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In a container filled with garden soil / yard dirt, won't any weed seeds germinate along with my planting? How do you manage this? I am remarkably bad at identifying seedlings. Well, correctly, anyway.
You could sterilize the soil before planting. But garden soil is not recommended for containers as it doesn't drain well enough. Potting mix is recommended and, and, at least when you open the bag, it is sterile.
You will get weed seeds even in the best potting soil. I will say that Miracle gro is the best potting soil for fewer weeds and the soil doesn't turn rock hard. My best advice is to checkout the seed site I list below. It is a fantastic site and should help you with identifying most seedlings.
I think if you have well draining garden soil you can use it. I used to live in an area that had great soil. I would sterilize it by baking it in the oven or microwaving it. I mix the sterilized soil with compost and I mix my seeds with sand. Then I sprinkle the sand/seed mixture on top of the soil.
Where I live now the soil is icky clay and doesn't drain. So I do buy whatever soil is generic and cheap and sterilize it just like my old soil.
Just a note here to mention that potting soil -- even special "seed starting mix" -- is not sterile out of the bag. I sterilize it in my microwave, 6 to 8 quarts at a time with 3 to 4 cups of water added if the mix starts out bone dry (the water is important if you don't want the peat to catch fire). I put it in a giant tupperware bowl, microwave on high for 12 - 15 minutes until I see lots of steam, then I snap the lid down and let it gradually cool off. The steam sterilizes the potting mix and also loosens up the peat so that it gets nice & moist. Baking it in the oven works too, but I don't like the smell.
Sterilizing your soil mix isn't such an issue for wintersown seeds (although it should kill off those pesky weeds), but it will go a long way toward preventing damping off & other problems with indoor seedling starts.
LOL! Seriously, it's not just a question of taste... the brownies do smell *much* better than did the potting mix! The day I tried it, DH came home and was very hesitant in voicing his query of what my plans might be for dinner, LOL. I'm sticking with the microwave method for sterilizing my indoor seed starting (and african violet potting) mix.
yes--but I always put 2-3 seeds to make sure the trays are full. I often have to top water but they are only about 15 feet out the back door and I can do it in the dark with the back porch light if I don't get home before dark from work. I have this real goofy looking old plastic watering can that puts out a really fine spray.