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Winter Sowing: What kind of soil?????

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Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

November 24, 2007
1:05 PM

Post #4224536

Last year I just used regular potting soil - but I get the impression that some use the soiless seed starter mixes to winter sow.

What have you used . . . and which do you prefer? Or does it make a difference in seed germination or bank accounts?

I'd like to know in advance what I should be purchasing.

And don't ask me to sterilize the soil. DH HATES the smell of soil roasting in the oven or microwave. lol
merryma
Auburn, MA
(Zone 5b)

November 24, 2007
1:16 PM

Post #4224564

I use Miracle Grow and had very good results with that. Just the regular potting soil, not seed starting mix. Mostly because it's what's available in the winter. But I don't recommend the one with water retention. For me, it's always turned into bricks. I've heard some have good results with Promix, but I've never used it. Whatever you do, don't use that really cheap soil...the one that's like dust and cost a dollar. Takes forever to wet and really does turn into bricks.
Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

November 24, 2007
1:22 PM

Post #4224576

Okay - I had heard that others were successful with Miracle Grow. I used Pro-Mix from Walmart last year - but it had a lot of sticks in it.
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

November 24, 2007
3:01 PM

Post #4224837

I couldn't find Pro-Mix last year and ended up using Miracle Gro, which I got on sale and which seemed to work fine. I concur that any good soiless potting mix is good, but not one with the water-retention crystals.
dellrose
The Ozarks, MO
(Zone 5b)

November 24, 2007
3:55 PM

Post #4225034

I am glad this question was asked. I am going to try WS and I couldn't find ProMix in my area and the local nursery recommended Fafard professional potting mix. The one I got is a mix of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. Do you think this will work for WS? Thanks for your help...Rose.
Lala_Jane
North West, OH
(Zone 5b)

November 24, 2007
9:43 PM

Post #4225800

I had to laugh at your reference to sterilizing the soil. I just cooked some last night to put into a cutting tray and found myself rather enjoying the smell of it. Mind you I didn't think it smelled GOOD, it's just one of those association things. I associate the smell of sterilizing soil with something I really love to do so it really didn't bother me at all.

However, one of the beauties of winter sowing is that step is not a requirement. This is only my second year so I'm far from a WS guru, but from all I gleaned last year sanitation of your containers and soil is not necessary as the freezing temps takes care of any cooties that might exist in either. :D

La
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

November 24, 2007
9:57 PM

Post #4225846

Hmmm, Rose; I hope someone answers your question regarding using the Fafard professional potting mix for winter sowing. I am a fan of Fafard mixes, but I don't know that one.
Shirley1md
Ellicott City, MD
(Zone 7a)

November 24, 2007
11:18 PM

Post #4226033

This is the MOST important step in wintersowing! ONLY buy the name brands of good potting soil!! Brand "X" will turn as hard as a brick, dry out and cause your seeds to die before they ever have a chance to germinate!!!. Don't try to save your pennies by buying inferior types of soil, a.k.a. "dirt". I have used "Miracle-Gro" year after year with excellent results. Finding "Pro-Mix" varies from area to area.

Please re-read "Lessons Learned 1-4", sticky noted at the top of this forum. There are so many "pearls" of wisdom contained in those lessons. Save yourself the aggravation and heartache before you start the wintersowing process.

Oops, make that "Lessons Learned 1-5".

This message was edited Nov 24, 2007 6:21 PM
kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

November 25, 2007
12:05 AM

Post #4226137

In my 2 WSing years, I have used mostly ProMix and a little Miracle Grow and both worked OK. My people do report problems with really cheap brands like dollar store stuff.

I do no sterilization of containers or potting mix. My milk jugs are just rinsed in clear tap water.

Karen
dellrose
The Ozarks, MO
(Zone 5b)

November 25, 2007
4:12 AM

Post #4226812

Shirley...I am taking your advise and reading the sticky's. So far I am in the middle of #2. I have read them all in the past but had already forgotten so much of what I had read (senior moments ya know)! Now that I know I will wintersow I think I will retain a lot more (at least I hope so)! This is so interesting and everyone has such good ideas. Hopefully next year I can add something to the mix.

CapeCod...In checking out the WinterSowing site I found that my Fafard mix is a good mix. I am glad as it was costly but is specially mixed for seed starting. I also want to use some MG just to see if there is a difference. I guess the real test will be next Spring.

I have been cutting the tops off of my 2ltr bottles using my band saw. The plastic makes a terrible noise as I'm cutting it but it is very quick. I also found 3 plastic milk crates that hold eleven 2ltr bottles so I will use those to hold everything together when I take it all outside.

cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

November 25, 2007
4:16 AM

Post #4226823

may I ask why the miracle grow with the water crystals is bad? tks.
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

November 25, 2007
2:55 PM

Post #4227397

Cathy, here is a link I just found on soils to use for WS. ( It's from a previous DG thread from Sept. 06. ) Gives a lot of information about all sorts of different types of soils that work for different people. Some of the repondents do use moisture retaining crystals.

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/648817/

I've always thought that what merryma says below would be the result, but truthfully, I haven't tried it myself and as you will see in the thread, it does work for some.

Quoting:But I don't recommend the one with water retention. For me, it's always turned into bricks.


This message was edited Nov 25, 2007 9:58 AM
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

November 25, 2007
3:52 PM

Post #4227611

Thank you Cape, I've used it for several years in my pots and can't imagine ever going back. My plants do wonderful in it and it has cut down on watering time. Cathy
Shirley1md
Ellicott City, MD
(Zone 7a)

November 26, 2007
2:12 AM

Post #4229563

dellrose: Glad to help. Keep reading the "sticky notes" because there is a lot of wisdom contained in them!! Your time will be well spent!!!

cathy4: I am a proponent for adding a few polymer crystals to the potting soil or you can buy soil that already contains them. I would prefer to have damp soil and add a few more drainage holes than dried out soil with dead seeds. I haven't regretted yet adding these crystals to my wintersown containers.
Peckhaus
Long Island, NY
(Zone 7a)

November 27, 2007
1:43 PM

Post #4234459

May I chime in and ask what brands of potting soil already contain polymer crystals? I might try wintersowing, but I am a weekend gardener and won't be able to water M-F. It's just an experiment this year to see if winter sowing works on this schedule - perhaps the polymer crystals would help.
Shirley1md
Ellicott City, MD
(Zone 7a)

November 27, 2007
5:22 PM

Post #4235404

Peckhaus: I use Miracle Gro which does have the moisture crystals in some of their bags. You'll have to check the labels. I can't speak to any other variety because I use Miracle Gro exclusively.
hymenocallis
Auburn, AL
(Zone 8a)

November 27, 2007
5:28 PM

Post #4235421

I use Sunshine grow mix for greenhouse starters, it has small sticks in it but it was the only brand that would give us a definitive list of what was in it for our organic gardening research. Promix is good too as well as Fafards.. have used them all with great success.
Peckhaus
Long Island, NY
(Zone 7a)

November 27, 2007
6:01 PM

Post #4235546

Thanks for the information!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

November 28, 2007
9:04 AM

Post #4238089

Miracle Gro with "Moisture Control" just doesn't seem the same to me as when I add polymer crystals to regular Miracle Gro mix or to Pro Mix. I'm not a fan of the "Moisture Control" stuff, either for containers or for WSing. But if it works for you, then it works! :-)
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

November 28, 2007
3:28 PM

Post #4238961

I've found a different quality of product between the smaller bags of miracle gro with moisture control and the really big bags. The smaller bags are dried out and have larger pieces.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

November 28, 2007
4:20 PM

Post #4239096

I've never bought a "smaller bag" LOL...

The moisture control stuff obviously works for people, because it's become very popular. The "regular" MG mix can be hard to find at times. I'd just rather add my own polymer crystals. I get them in bulk, from watersorb.com.
crazy_gardener
Wainwright, AB
(Zone 2b)

December 1, 2007
6:44 AM

Post #4249510

Big compressed bales of Sunshine #4.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 15, 2007
10:39 PM

Post #4298308

Where do you buy potting soil in December? All I can find at HD is inflatable Bambis and sprouted Amaryllis. :>( x, C
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

December 16, 2007
1:56 AM

Post #4298918

Same here carrie, I bought the last 2 at our HD and paid a terrible price. Lowe's did have more if you have one near you. I'd call first. Next year I'm buying a pile when they are on sale.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 16, 2007
2:44 AM

Post #4299106

They're never on sale. Ever. x, Carrie
Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 17, 2007
1:29 AM

Post #4302040

I was able to buy potting soil (big bags) at Wal-Mart all winter last year.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 17, 2007
1:41 AM

Post #4302081

(Said in a disdainful tone) the Walton family are 6 of the ten richest people in this country. We don't go to Wal-Mart. Actually the Wal-mart closest to us is not that close. xx, Carrie
Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 17, 2007
1:58 AM

Post #4302137

oh . . . okay . . . is the distainful tone for me . . . or the Walton family?
kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

December 17, 2007
1:05 PM

Post #4303370

My HD usually has it in winter but it's not easy to find there. It's outside in the fenced-in area which is the garden center in summer. It's cold and dark out there, but usually there's frozen potting mix to be had. I had to scrape snow off of it to see which brand was which.

There's is also a Worm's Way store near here. They carry ProMix, inside the store, but it's very expensive there so I didn't buy it. I went to HD and froze in the dark to get the better price on the ProMix.

I thought I had enough ProMix left from last summer. But as my list of must have flowers increases, I see myself freezing at Home Depot again in search of my ProMix.

Karen

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 17, 2007
3:12 PM

Post #4303727

The Walton family, not you, silly! Have you read Nickled and Dimed in America? Totally UNscholarly, but got ME all riled up. Do they ever have dirt at Target? x, C
claypa
West Pottsgrove, PA
(Zone 6b)

December 17, 2007
3:27 PM

Post #4303803

What's wrong with the Waltons? Michael Learned / Olivia was hot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Waltons

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 17, 2007
3:52 PM

Post #4303871

I liked Michael Learned. I like those Waltons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Wal-Mart
xxx, Carrie
Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 17, 2007
10:37 PM

Post #4304877

Yes - read Nickel and Dimed and was totally pi##ed off . . . I grew up on the other side of the tracks and the idea that someone could go "slumming" for several months, (all the while clearly understanding there was a nice condo and bankaccount, plus publishing royalties at the end) could possibly understand what that life is actually like beggars the imagination.

Until you have lived it, you have no idea. When you are there (as I was), you don't even know what questions to ask, much less the answers. The world of the working poor is a different planet than the one lived in by the middle class.

David and I made the "great escape" through dogged determination and hard work. But by-in-large, no one assisted, or guided, or anything. It was just assumed I should work as a waitress ( a job I loath!!!!!) and David should pump gas all our lives. We were able to escape because we both read - and reading leads you to understand there are other worlds - if you can only figure out how to get there.

As for Wal-Mart taking advantage of the poor - well, the reason there are 11 million illegal aliens in this country is because we ALL benefit from cheap labour. How many are prepared to pay more for veggies or other groceries? And overseas, people die every day working in appalling conditions so we can buy even more consumer goods, most of which will eventually end up in the dump. Imagine, people die so we can throw things away .. . .
And it's not just Wal-mart selling these products - the price of the product often bears little relation to the labour costs and employment condtions. . . .

sorry about the rant . . . but really, as long as we limit our consumption to the basics (e.g. stuff for the garden!) and buy the very best quality of stuff, and then make it last a lifetime, we will improve the environment and are less likely to exploit others.


CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

December 18, 2007
12:27 AM

Post #4305166

Quoting:sorry about the rant . . . but really, as long as we limit our consumption to the basics (e.g. stuff for the garden!) and buy the very best quality of stuff, and then make it last a lifetime, we will improve the environment and are less likely to exploit others.

Yesss, and compost! And recycle our jugs while wintersowing! . . . oh-oh, I'm getting up on my soapbox. . .

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 18, 2007
12:54 AM

Post #4305227

Yes, Michaela, my DD#1 had to read it for school and had basically the same reaction you did! I am the first generation who has a SUBSTANTIALLY lower standard of living than my parents. You're still rising and so is my DH. But yes, I am willing to pay more to support a local business (if they have the quality product I'm looking for). I go to Farmer's Markets and buy crafts and buy through my church so they get the profit instead of Sam Walton and his family. I just think there should an amount of money that is enough! Oh don't get me started! xx, Carrie

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 18, 2007
12:59 AM

Post #4305238

OH I had something really important to add buut I forget what it was. Man I hate that. Oh well.
Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

December 18, 2007
1:31 AM

Post #4305323

Thanks Emily and Carrie - I'm glad you didn't take my rant personally :-)

carrielamont

carrielamont
Euless, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 18, 2007
8:23 PM

Post #4307864

Take Michaela and her ranting personally? Naw, not me. We love you ranting! xx, C
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

December 19, 2007
1:47 AM

Post #4308811

Never, Michaela!

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Other Winter Sowing Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Winter Sowing Seed Swap .....part 2 alicewho 213 Mar 23, 2007 1:01 PM
Lessons learned for next year #2 zenpotter 256 Mar 23, 2007 7:56 AM
Milk jugs TurtleChi 99 Mar 19, 2007 12:20 PM
WS Poppies & transplant problems marie_ 100 May 11, 2011 4:44 PM
Database germination info bluespiral 6 Mar 5, 2008 12:23 PM


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