I have several bags of this stuff left and would love some input as to what I can add to make this stuff palatable to my plants. Every seed I've ever started in it has not made it. Perlite? regular potting soil? Peat? Something has to lighten it up.
I've been using the Jiffy Mix Plus for two years now. Started when I couldn't buy vermiculite locally, so had to make do. It worked really good. This fall I stocked up when WallMart was clearing it out: 65 cents each for the large (nine quart) size.
The plus contains peat and vermiculite, according to the label, plus a modicum of fertilizer. It seems just the right density for me.
If you have to lighten it up, a bit of perlite certainly wouldn't hurt; maybe a third by volume. I wouldn't use potting soil for starting seeds, you'll just be making the mix heavier and chance introducing pathogens.
What do you mean by seeds not making it? Do they germinate and not grow? Or not germinate? Or what?
I got the same mix when WM marked it down. It just seems to compact and I really have had next to nothing germinate in it. Things from the same pack do well in Ultimate (like Pro-mix) but I wanted to use this up.
When WM had their fall sale I bought 15 of their starter pack (72 cells) with peat pellets. I want to do winter sowing with them but kinda afraid they may not work.
I may just remove the pellets & use the mini hot house with some type of soil.. any ideas on the pellets will be welcomed.. any ideas for a CHEAP soil? *S*
I don't know what to tell you, TiG. Mine doesn't compact at all, and everything has germinated and grown well in it. In fact, I've got some stuff growing under lights that I've just left in it. Instead of watering straight, however, I use Shultz's food, at 25% strength.
Sugar: I don't care for the pellets, nor does anybody I know whose tried them. They have a tendency to not reconsitute evenly, and, because they absorb so much water, seeds rot.
If you do raise seedlings in it, be sure and cut the netting several times when transplanting. Despite what Jiffy says, most root systems aren't strong enough to grow through it without some help.
well, maybe it's the way I do it. I wet it all in a very large bowl and then pack the seed trays. Perhaps I'm packing them too tight. I just did a little more, and I wet it just through, and then very lightly packed. Watered to get any pockets out. If you have a certain way to do it, I'd love to know!!!!
I just got the jiffy "seed starting mix". Is that what your having trouble with tiG? I have a hard time with peat based mixes - even the promix. The peat just seems to stay water logged and then dry out like a brick. I'd like to find something else to use that doesn't cost a fortune. I'm never happy with my seed mix. I've been thinking about buying the capilary mats for better watering control. i think that would help.
Sugar_fl - I did winter sowing with some poppies in one of those peat pellet trays. I cut the netting off the pellets after I soaked them. Planted the seeds - and put the tray w/ dome in a big clear garbage bag. If you think you'll get a lot of snow the dome will cave in so leave it off. And - if I recall right the tray under the pellets doesn't have any drainage holes so make sure to cut some. The poppies came up good - but it's hard to moniter the moisture with those small peat pellets - one hot sunny day will dry them right out. Your best bet is to plant them in the ground as soon as possible. I think they'd be Ok for quick germinators that you can plant quickly into the ground. Other than poppies ... maybe candytuft, cal. poppies, batchelar buttons, alyssum, chinese forget me nots or calendula. You should be able to plant those shortly after they germinate - and they'll be able to take a few frosts. I wouldn't use them for small seeds that need some growing time in order to be planted out in the garden. My best winter sowing success was using plain old Coke bottles cut in half. They did much better than the chinese food containers and all the other container types I used. They held the moisture better and hold enough soil to keep them happy. Any I do this year will be with coke bottles.
Do I understand that U cut the coke bottles in 1/2 by cutting the tops off...We don't get snow here in the FL panhandle but is pretty cold right now.. been going into the
middle & lower 20s at nite.. it doesn't stay that cold long & the last frost is around March 15. I keep wondering how the topsoil I got from WM last fall will do.. it was very light & fluffy.. Black.. probably had lots of sand in it. It feels like some expensive seed starting soil we bought. We planted a few radishes in it last fall just as a experiment.. they came up quick & after a couple of weeks we dumped them.. they were living but didn't want to plant them out as it was too late & we saw that they would come up & survive.. now would tiny flower seed do OK..
Anyway I think I'll just take out the pellets & use the mini green houses with some kinda soil.
Thanks & I'm open to any other ideas :)
Yes - the coke bottles are cut in ½ - the bottom part would be the pot and the top part is the cover. Put 3 or 4 drainage holes in the bottom and a few slits in the top for ventilation (leave the cap on). Your top soil would probably work fine. You could always mix it with some peat if you think it's too heavy. After planting your seeds you put the tops back on the bottles ... you have to kinda sqeeze the bottom so the top fits over it. I put them in cardboard boxes to keep them upright and the wind from blowing them away. Put them outside and as the temps warm up and you see some seeds sprouting you can remove the bottle caps to give them extra ventilation. Eventually remove the entire bottle tops. I found I didn't have to water very often but it could be different in your climate.
What I do is put the Jiffy mix in the flat or other planting container. I then wet it until water flows from the drain holes. Then I barely press down on the surface, just enough to compact the mix slightly.
Seeds go in. Most of the time I'm starting small seeds, so I just lay them on the surface and sprinkle with another 1/4" or so of dry Jiffy. Then I spray water again until the new layer is wetted---which takes more water than you might think.
That's my whole procedure. Once the seed germinates, however, I strictly bottom water. I want the surface to be no wetter than a wrung out sponge.
well, what I am finding is that water will come through, but if you stick your finger down in the middle, it's still dry as a bone. But I am going to give this a shot with some duplicate seeds, and see if that's what I'm doing wrong. Thanks for your help.
What I do is use the sprayer head on the sink. I lay down an even application, flooding the surface, and let that sink in. Then do it again. And again. Depending on the depth of the flat or container, it can take quite a few such applications.
Problem with just pouring water on is that until the peat component gets damp water runs right off it. Maybe that's been your problem? The water is just draining through without being absorbed?
An alternate approach would be to submerge the flat, and let it sit for awhile to fully absorb water. Then let it drain overnight or even longer (otherwise it will be too wet), and go on from there.
Tig, I used Jiffy mix last year for all my seeds. (Sure wish our WM had marked theirs down - I paid a lot more than $.65 for each bag I purchased!)
I totally agree with Brook's advice: DON'T wet it first. I scoop it dry into all the cells in a flat, press down lightly to make sure the cells are fairly full (1/4" head space give or take.)
I usually go ahead and plant the seeds before I moisten the soil (right or wrong, I dunno.) After the seeds are planted, I have a watering "bladder" thing I got from Park Seed years ago (it looks like a hand grenad with a brass nozzle cap, LOL!) and I fill it with warm water and spray it over the top of the cell packs. Then I take 2-3 cups of warm water and pour into the flat, and let it wick up into the plants. Somehow moistening the top first seems to help the water draw more quickly up through the cells for that initial watering.
After that, it was very easy to keep the soil moist. When the surface got dry, I put 3-4 cups of water in the flat (usually warm water, BTW), and it would wick up within 15 minutes or so. This was a once-every-5-days-or-so procedure while the seedlings were indoors.
The only complaint I had with the Jiffy mix (aside from price) was that it tended to form a green "funk" on the surface - probably a harmless manifestation of the fertilizer, but I've had damp-off problems in the past and it worried me. So I bought a 50 lb. bag of chick grit from my co-op ($5), and spread it around the seedlings, and that seemed to help. Also, about once every 2-3 weeks I'd mix up a 10% solution of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in my watering bladder thingy, and spray it on top. I had great success starting seeds last year. Hope our advice helps you!!!