Seed starting soil ratios

Newport Beach, CA(Zone 10b)

I'm trying to start some very small South African seeds, about the size of poppy seeds, and several of the seeds want "equal parts river sand and fine compost". I have several questions about this:
1- Not having many rivers around here in Southern Calif., is it OK to use washed construction type sand from Home Depot?
2- Is fine compost the same as seed starting mix? Or what is?
3- and this is a dumb one, but I have no idea-is it equal parts by weight or by volume? A shovel of sand is obviously waaay more heavy than the compost. So, which is it?

Any info will be greatly appreciated! I got the seeds all the way from Africa, from BEingplants.com (who were great, and reasonable BTW) and I'd prefer not to have to re-order just because I blew it from the very get-go with the soil mix. I'd like to at least get them to the damping off stage before I kill them..... ;)

Pretoria, South Africa

Hi deedeedink,

Let me help you with the questions.
1. If the construction type sand is course, it should be okay, but you can also use perlite / vermiculite. I found that sand, unless very course, tend to become compact. I have ordered from them in the past, and started the seed in a seed starting compost. I suspect she copied the seed starting info from an overseas site, as neither the sand nor the fine compost is readily available in SA. I have only recently been able to buy seed starting compost, and we only have builder's sand that is very nasty for plants to grow in. It becomes as hard as rock when the mix dries out...

2. Yes, the seed starting compost will be fine.

3. You can do equal parts by volume.

What seeds did you buy - maybe I can help you if you feel unsure on starting them?

Elsa

Newport Beach, CA(Zone 10b)

Boy Elsa, I really appreciate your answer, and any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I'm not the worlds best at seeds in the first place, although I'm getting better, and these tiny little guys, with their special soils and all--let's just say I think of it as a challenge. I got:


Ixia monadelpha
Geissorhiza Radians
Geissorhiza Tulbaghensis 15 seeds
Lapeirousia pyramidalis ssp. regalis 15 seeds
Geissorhiza monanthos 15 seeds
Lachenalia pallida 10 seeds
Lapeirousia azurea 15 seeds
Lapeirousia corymbosa 15 seeds
Lapeirousia fabricii 15 seeds
Moraea Villosa

I germinated the G. Radians successfully last year- well, 2 out of 10 seeds survived, but that was my first and only attempt at SA seeds. Would the other two Geissorhiza's require about the same culture or is the G. Radians a little wetter? I had a hard time finding any info on germinating the Lapeirousias at all, and the Ixia too. Any help on the Moraea would be great too. I flowered one from a bulb two years ago, but it didn't flower this last spring at all, and I don't know what I did wrong. It grew just fine, but I never did get a flower. I've had the same problem with Ferraria Crispa too-grown from bulbs, great foliage, but I've yet to get them to flower even once.

Since you've been so kind to reply, I've got to tell you-- you have some awesome plants in SA!!! Hope to travel there someday!
Thanks so much,
Dee
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Pretoria, South Africa

Dee,

The seeds you ordered are from plants growing in the Winter Rainfall Area of SA. Unfortunately I don't have any experience growing them because I live in the Summer Rainfall part of SA. This is a good site to visit for SAn plants. http://www.plantzafrica.com

Hope it helps,
Elsa

Newport Beach, CA(Zone 10b)

Hi Elsa,
I like the winter rainfall stuff because it's very similar to our So. Calif. weather. It's practically a miracle if we get a summer rain of any consequence, so I'm able to put them in the ground, in an area my sprinklers don't hit, and leave them alone. A few of them are starting to naturalize, like the lachenalias and the velthamias, and even my Ixia viridifolia has set more bulbs.

I went ahead and started a few of the new seeds this weekend- one's that are happy without the sand, since I discovered that the bag of sand I thought my husband had bought for me was a bag of quick-setting concrete! Oops, seeds aren't gonna like that! :p

Pretoria, South Africa

Dee,

LOL! Good luck with the seeds. I'm glad you have such success with the other flowers - they surely are beautiful! Let me know how the new ones are doing.

Elsa

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