Hi guys. I mostly have direct-sowed seeds in the past outdoors in the garden. I want to start some seeds early this year in pots and was wondering what is the best medium to do so? I read a lot about soil-less mixes. What do you guys use? Thanks in advance.
I bought a couple of the small green houses that use the pellets at Wal Mart. I really liked them. They are real easy to do and a hundred per cent successful if you follow the instructions. Buy the one with the big pellets, they work best.
Peat pellets or soiless seed starting mix. Some of the larger seeds I start in wet paper towels and plastic bags. After they sprout I sow them in the garden. By doing this they don't have to acclimate.
Any commercial potting mix ... mixed with about 30% to 50% shredded screened pine bark. You wnat it to be less expensive and better aerated, and medium-coarse bark accomplishes both goals.
I think most commercial mixes hold too much water and not enough air because they have too much peat, and the texture is too fine. It is too easy to over-water when the mix holds ALL the water you add. You want excess water to flow out the bottom, so more air can flow in the top, and diffuse or circulate through the sir.
Most people just add very coarse Perlite to improve the drainage. I don't like Perlite and it's expensive. I do like bark, and it's cheap.; But you'll probably have to screen it yourself unless you find very clean, small bark nuggets or chips.
Grit is good, too, like crushed granite or other c rushed rock. But screen out the rock dust and sand - you want some GRIT, like 2-3 mm grains.
If you buy clean dry bark mulch, or bark nuggets, you can screen it yourself. Mostly you want what passes easily THROUGH 1/4" screen, but not the dusty parts, fines, or fibers that are too fine.
If you can get 1/8" hardware cloth, you don't want the finer stuff that passes too easily through 1/8" mesh. That tends to clog up the mix.
P.S. I don't like Miracle-Grow potting mix or seedling mix. Where I am, it is almost all peat, and almost powdery in texture. I've seen good-looking "Pro-Mix" and "Fafard" potting or seedling mixes. They have enough of some kinds of fibers to hold the mix "up" even when wet. Water drains out and air can get in.