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I use the wal-mart brand most of the time for my indoor house planting just because it is cheaper and so much easier to find. I've never found anything other than a few small sticks in it. Otherwise I buy Miracle Grow for my outside pots only because I can buy a huge bag at Sam's Club. Now I just need to wait for all the snow to melt to get to my pots to get to Sams Club to buy that dirt. Happy Gardening everyone!!
I have used both Miracle Grow and Pro-Mix and had good results with both. I think the Pro-Mix is lighter and drains better, but it is so hard to wet, it takes a lot of time.
This time I bought Fafard, and I think I'm going to like it, as long as results are good. It's really light and fluffy, has a lot of perlite and vermiculite, and is easy to wet. I've only used it on about 6 jugs so far, so the jury is still out on it until I see how it works.
Be careful and make sure you take a good look at the bag posted, because Wal Mart has a cheaper one of the same brand and it's terrible. I made that mistake and it was so heavy and full of junk that that I don't think a seed can get through it.
I know the containers I used it in are the ones that aren't coming up
I've been using the Walmart brand for a couple of years, and like it, but did see yesterday that they had a cheaper bag, so that must be the one with the sticks and stones! A member of our garden club is a Master Gardener and he uses the Walmart brand in the yellow bag for his thousands of seedlings. He is not a winter sower, so I have to try to convert him!
I think it's called Hyponex, but it's like 98 cents a bag, so you would have to be crazy, like me, to not realize it was no good. It was like someone went in the back yard, found all the bad soil he could and put it in a bag, sticks and all.
I don't remember who told me it was good stuff, but I wish I could remember so I could put a hit out on them!! LOL
I used Pro-mix this year because I bargained for a broken bale at the Seed & Feed Store. Some of the DG gardeners seem to really love it, so I was happy to land a bag of it.
I didn't realize at the time that there are several kinds of Pro-mix and I don't know if I am using quite the right one, but it seems very nice...perhaps there is one with a fine grain, although the BX seems to work fine for seeds I am sowing. I don't think mine has the 'mycorise' which some seem to think is helpful (I don't know what it is exactly).
I added some Osmocote and moisture crystals just for good measure.
The compressed bales of Pro-Mix really do contain a lot of mix and go a long way.
First impression, though, I think I'm going to like the Fafard better, as long as the germination and growth are comparable to what I've had with Pro-Mix. Because it's easier and faster to wet initially, sowing is faster, too. Also, if they dry out in spring I imagine it will be easier to re-wet with bottom watering. (That also can take some time with Pro-Mix). I prefer to bottom water, and do that if they are very dry and weather is hot.
Osmocote isn't necessary (and often it is counter recommended to include fertilizer for wintersowing), but I mix a little into my Pro-mix planting medium anyway because I want to be sure the seedlings get some nutrients (and I probably would forget, otherwise!) Miracle Planting Mix already has fertilizer in it.
tabasco: I got the Fafard at Nature's Corner, Ebenezer Rd. @ Rapid Run in Western Hills, kind of the other end of the world for you. They're not even open in winter, but a guy was there working the day I called and said he would sell me a bag if I showed up. This fellow said he's has used the Fafard exclusively for 15 years for everything- seed starting, container planting, etc.
Ahhh! I thought you may have purchased it at AJ Rahn's or Delhi.
I googled Fafard because I thought it was a local or regional company, but I see it's quite national. Sounds like an excelent product and source, but they don't seem to retail their stuff on my side or town...
Here is company FAQ's about their mixes FYI everyone.
Wal mart here only has jiffy too. Glad you found a knowledgeable
helper too. I was in the garden center in this Walmart and asksed where the begonias were. She gave me a blank stare and asked what begonia was. So, nice person I am, I found one, showed it to her so she'd never say that to anyone else. Showed her where they were too
I use the Promix BX for everything; seedstarting, wintersowing and containers. I usually buy about 6 big bales and get them from a wholesaler. Retail, it sell for about $30 a bale and it goes a long way. 3cu.ft compressed.
Not snobbish at all. I'm moving toward using more natural products in my operation, too.
Now. I'm gonna need all ya'lls help pretty soon, cause my Dear Niece that I love, just asked me to help her landscape the front of her BRAND NEW HOUSE! They got a humongous property for a STEAL! They are young, industrious, and are putting faith and trust in me to help guide them.
I've only grown veggies...
But! Linda-Sahn gave them theIr very first assignment: She had to commit to following Auntie Linda's directions without question (she'll try to argue about all those milk jugs all over the place, but she'll thank me come Springtime...). And, she MUST join DAVE'SGARDEN.COM IMMEDIATELY!
Steph, I'll be tearing through the landscaping forum like crazy.
P.S. (since they have "means" I'm gonna suggest things like having a very attractive compost bin built in a section of the property to help build up the RAISED BEDS they don't know they'll be working with down the line).
Thanks to God that I've been venturing out from the veggie forums to at least read about some of the landscaping stuff!
I think we should have a forum called: Designer's Challenge! to assist newbie landscapers! Experienced growers could submit landscape design ideas for a specific property, and the winner of the Challenge would win an all expense paid trip to the property to see their finished design -- or not! ^^
I could go for a designer help thing. Ihave an area that is dry shade and have a large pergola with walkway that my DH built. Iwant to put this area all in garden in order not to have to get a mower in there.I also have a challenge of a propane tank in there.Last year I painted some frogs on the tank as I have a small pond behind it in a corner that I also want to landscape arpubd.
Folks, I've often grown seedlings in situations very similar to the winter sowing described in these threads. But I've never used the jugs and want to do that this year. I've also never covered my seeds before, except in periods of intense deluge or high frigid winds.
My question after reading this thread, is why use all bagged premixed soil? I have always mixed my own soil for planting holes, containers and seed starting. Is there something about using the jugs that requires one to use commercially packaged soil mixes?
Does having the covers over the seeds make them more prone to fungus and pathogens?
Stormyla, the only reason I use bagged premixed potting mix is that it is easy and I know that it is sterile. Here's a link that talks about this: http://gardening.about.com/b/2008/01/31/whats-a-soil-less-potting-mix.htm
Having said that, it sounds as if you've had excellent luck with making your own potting mix for seed-starting, so you must be doing it right. I am less expert, so I just go with a purchased soiless potting mix. (Usually MG 'cause it's easy for me to find.)
I've never seen any signs of pathogens in my covered WS jugs. Even when the weather warms up in the spring, I've never seen one example of damping-off for instance. The seedlings that emerge are pretty hardy!
Most of the mixes have a lot of peat in it. I find that pre-moistening is a must before putting it in the containers for seeding/planting. Initially the mix will repel the water, but after about 10 minutes it absorbs it. I put the soil mix in a 5-gallon pail about 2/3 full. add about 1 icecream pail of the of warm water and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. mix it up and ad a bit more water if it needs it.
I've read on these threads that sterilizing the soil is not necessary in winter sowing. My first thought when I began reading about the soils folks are using is that they appeared to contail no soil. For the purpose of HOS planting, I thought the soiless mixes would fall apart when trying to separate the hunks. Then I read that people were experiencing this.
I can see the benefits of using soiless mixes if they have to be baked or if they would be germinating on heat mats or in a warm room. In the past I have used seed starting prepared mixes and found them very unsatisfactory because of the watering difficulty. My preference is organic fertilizers, so I don't use the MG products. In recent years, when starting seeds in containers outside, I have made a mix that contains soil and organics matters.
Stephanietx, my mixes always contains compost, fish emulsion, kelp, mycorrhizza and beneficial microbes.This year I've also added alfalfa meal to all of my plantings, but I'm unsure if it would be wise to use it in a seed mix. You're not baking your compost, are you? It would seem like that would kill the organisms in the compost. If a sterile enviornment is necessary, wouldn't the fish emulsion be counterproductive? I've read that Promix contains Mycorrhizza and that many folks use it. Surely baking the Promix would destroy the Mycorrhizza.
I'd really appreciate all of your imput as I am planning on starting quite a large number of jugs and would really prefer not to buy commercially prepared soiless mix. However, I don't want to destroy the seeds either. If winter sowing is attempting to mimic the natural enviornment, surely using some real soil has a part in that process, or am I missing something?
Capecodgardender, LOL, I am never sensible enough to take the easy way out. Also, it takes me months to plant all of my seedlings, and often I transplant many of them to pots and grow them some more before putting them in the garden. A nutritious soil mix seems like it would give the seedlings more vigor to withstand the double transplanting. I walk through my beds all of the time and need the plants to be large enough to make them easily visible to avoid tromping on them
There were folks on these threads who reported that they don't use soil because weeds grew in with their seedlings. When I used to germinate seeds indoors, I always used commercially prepared seed starting soils or peat pellets. When I would move the trays out to my cold frames, after about 10 days of exposing them to the air with the windows open, weeds would grow in those mediums.
Joannabanana, I am familiar with the water repellant properties of peat, which I always use in my mixes, and find that your watering method is a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion.
My growing mediums are so mixed up right now, I couldn't begin to tell you what's what! Im sure I've dumped MG potting mix in with the compost, which went in with the Black Kow composted manure, that got into the yard of veggie growers Rose Mix garden soil I had delivered this summer...
If I see worms in a container, I figure that's the organic stuff. No worms in a container, I figure that's the potting mix!
I don't sterilize my soil at all! I just know it can be done and people do it. I'm way too lazy to sterilize. Besides that, I figure if Mother Nature doesn't sterilize, why should I? Last year, none of my WS containers had weeds in them. I just use an organic potting soil add a bit of my own compost (everything seems to grow in my compost pile) and put the seeds in. I probably use a 3:1 mix, 3 parts soil to 1 part extra compost.
Thank heavens, you guys!!! I can't imagine running my oven with the turkey roaster full of soil for three days. I also think that heating organic substances like peat and coir must alter some of their natural properties. When I germinated indoors, I never cooked them, just misted the plantings with very diluted H2O2 or bleach.
I've always kept my cold frame doors open in the day and only closed them at night unless there were hugh down pours or snow. I always filled the bottoms of the ones with half hardy or tender plants with straw and manure, which kept them warm enough through the night.
Another benefit of the jugs over the cold frames, is that I won't have the repeat of last year's marauding squirrels getting into the cold frames and ripping the seedlings and containers to shreds. I lost about 500 seedlings that way and many of them are still growing in troughs, as yet unidentified. This year at bloom, I'll finally be able to ID them. Darn squirrels just love to rip those markers out and toss the seedlings everywhere.
I do understand the importance of keeping the mixture very light and porous. I keep rock dust, peat and leaf mold on hand for all of my plantings and amending my beds. I always have large containers of native soil that are returns from the planting holes. Somehow it seems so alien to me to germinate the seeds in a totally artificial medium without expecting the seedling to have to undergo stress to adapt to a true soil upon planting. Doesn't it seem more logical to start them out in a mix that is close in composition to their eventual destination?
I've never used soil or compost, only soilless mixes, with good results. My soil is clay and clay doesn't drain all that well in heavy rain despite years and years of amending. Compost holds lots and lots of moisture too. Sometimes we get monsoon rains in spring with can last for days. I want the mix to drain as fast as possible, avoid rotting the seeds. Excess moisture or poor drainage combined with cool temps will rot seeds, especially large ones. Been there, done that. I also gouge plenty of large drain holes in the bottom of the jugs.
Unless weather is exceptionally warm and dry in spring I don't have to water often. Last year was so wet that I don't think I ever watered once. They get only morning sun exposure, afternoon shade. I also plant hardy annuals or hardy perennials out early while they're very tiny, usually only a couple of true leaves, and I think that helps, too. Everything goes right from milk jug to garden bed. I begin planting out perennials in April usually, though we get frost well into May. I'm not always so good at timing the tender annuals; I have had those bloom in the milk jugs before I can get them in the ground, although my goal is to have everything in the ground by May 15 or 20.
Karen, That's an amazing quantity of plants to get into the ground by the end of May. Even if you only yield 6 plants per jug x 80 = 480 . The springtime is full of garden chores. Pruning the shrubs, trimming the trees, bed clean up, feeding the bulbs and everything else, deadheading the bulbs, dividing the daylilies and Iris, plant moving. Slug and other pest treatments, compost spreading. Branch removal from all of the spring storms, compost making. Mulching, Washing all of the furniture. Planting your containers and bringing out your garden art. Not to mention your regular job!! I am always still planting through a good part of the summer.
Just getting ready for the spring swap takes almost 2 weeks, but will be easier if I give away half seedlings and half divisions. I will probably do about 75 jugs and have to move a lot of other plants to put those new ones in the ground. My bed area is about a third of an acre, much of it under a canopy of trees that must be thinned in early spring.
Stormy: My jugs generally yield more than six seedlings, see picture attached. I had taken what I wanted from one corner, then passed (forced?) the rest to friends.
Yes, spring is a busy time. Maybe my priorities differ from yours. I know that getting those babies in the ground is necessary for best performance, so I make it a priority. I measure soil temp regularly and start slug treatment as soon as soil temp is 40 degrees. Despite my best intentions, the windows and screens might not get washed in early spring. Curtains might not get washed and ironed. Perennials that need it might not get divided. But my babies get planted.
I USED TO have a much cleaner house before wintersowing. When I'm on my deathbed and look back at my life, I don't think I'll reminisce about how much I enjoyed those clean curtains. But I think I WILL remember how much I enjoyed being surrounded by flowers.
LOL, Karen, my house doesn't get cleaned from Easter to Thanksgiving, not deep cleaned anyway. I have a gardening friend who had a cross stitched sampler hanging in her kitchen, that said "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life". I agree with those sentiments fully. I spend all of my non working time in my garden.
A large part of my spring efforts is keeping up with the 20,000 bulbs that are here. They all have to photographed and marked for fall division. There's no putting that off tlll later. Gardening under trees has it's own challenges. I pour over last year's photos to look for light pockets both to know where to thin the canopy and where to plant.
I was being conservative with the 6 plants per container. I rarely get less than 20 plants from seeds, even with only using partial packs. When I plant, I often have to remove tree roots, which is very time consuming. I admire your determination in your planting regime. I just can't ignore all of the other garden chores that scream out for attention!!
The only food I grow is tomatoes. I don't even grow many herbs anymore, since my picky husband won't eat them. I have to say I have no idea how to grow anything practical, like food. I've only been on a farm once, for about an hour, as a little girl. Smelled poop, wanted outta there Definitely a big city kid.
>>Smelled poop, wanted outta there Definitely a big city kid.
as a child, I spend many weeks up on the farm. My mom's relatives were/are dairy farmers in Wisc. The only manure that I dont care for is from pigs... or when it was barn cleaning day and it's all getting churned up.
I'm not a "farm girl" but i'd rather live in the country than the city.
Just to be clear, I think the distinction is more between soil-less mix and garden soil/dirt, not whether you buy a pre-packaged mix or make your own blend of coir, peat moss, perlite, whatever. The reason to use a soil-less mix is that "regular" soil compacts in containers... you'll end up with little bricks, and your seedlings won't be happy. Now, maybe you've got miracle dirt in your garden, but several people have reported very disappointing results when they WS'd in garden soil rather than a soil-less mix.
Personally, I like ProMix BX, partly because I can get it in huge compressed bales and partly because it has a fairly fine texture that I like for seedlings. I'm not fond of the newer Miracle Gro "moisture control," although I haven't been able to put my finger on the "why" there. I do add polymer moisture crystals to pretty much everything. Last year, I also mixed coir and rice hulls with my purchased Pro Mix, and I thought that worked out well.
Stormy, I think after you come down here to see Joyanna's crocus lawn, we want to visit you to see 20 kilobulbs in bloom!
Oh, yeah... sterilizing soil... totally unnecessary for WS.
But I do sterilize the smaller amounts of soil I use for seedling trays and potting up cuttings or African violet plantlets. I do it in the microwave -- doesn't get that smell the way it does when you use the oven, and it's quick! Just be sure you moisten it well.
Critter, LOL. I feel myself being coraled into another trip to MD. Just don't schedule another 3 hour traffic jam for the return trip. I would love to have you, Adventure Girl and hopefully Terri come see my bulb show!
I've grown all of my seedlings except for one year in a mixture that contained some native garden soil. It's never compacted or turned bricklike. Nor does any of the soil in my pots. My soil is a lot more porous than a lot I've seen from the MidAtlantic and I add a lot of things to lighten it up. I'm nuts about having the microherd in there working right from the git go. I've always filled all of the peat pots with my soil mix and had no problems, even managed to eek out some Oriental Poppies every year.
I am very careful about the drainage.and have been reading these threads for good ideas on how to best achieve this in the jugs.
Jill -- i cant recall which thread i read it in... but since i see you are on this one... you had mentioned that you always add Polymer Crystals to your WS containers. Do you wet them first, or add them dry to the soil?
I was going to add vermiculite to the soil, I think Karen mentioned that... but i just recalled i used it all up last year... I may just venture out today in search of some at HD. I know that most of WallyWorlds gardening stuff disappears around the holidays...so i dont think i'd find it there.. which happens to be the closest store.
I add the polymer crystals dry to my soil mix, being careful not to overdo it! If you want to be sure about not overdoing, you could wet/expand them first. With the crystals, I can get away with some shallow WS containers (2+ inches of soil mix rather than 4-5").
Thanks for the info. I bought a small bag last year at a greenhouse supply company, and have been hoarding it. I used it in some of my hanging baskets, mixed with coir. They were the best baskets I have ever planted.
Thanks to Critter's advice, I use it in all of my planting holes for new plants. It has made a remarkable difference in the success rate of plantings especially in my dry as dust roadside bed, which is covered with Maples. I use it in containers, but never tried it with seedlings. Those crystals get so big when they are wet, it seems like they would unearth some recently germinated seedlings and maybe even move the seeds around.
In shallow seed starting trays, I actually use a version with smaller crystals, but I just use the regular crystals in the WS containers, and that works out fine.
The watersorb folks used to carry a "small" crystal size, but they just could not convince people that "medium" was the right size for the cool ties that everybody was making (many were being sent to our troops)... said everybody would order "small" and then complain... so they stopped carrying them. When I run out (probably soon), I'm going to make some more smaller crystals by running a few handfuls through my propeller-style coffee grinder.
tcs, I know, but if any get jammed in there, when you go to wash it, they'll swell. Have you ground any by machine? I've found them everywhere when I'm using them. You know how if your hands are the least bit damp, they stick to you? I find that they stick to you even when your hands are dry. One day, I found a bunch of swollen ones in the washing machine. They must have fallen into my apron pocket and then fell out of the pocket when I washed it.
I actually just cleaned my good grinder the other night.. added some new "good" beans.
I have another grinder that i use to grind flax seeds... that one gets cleaned the same way... but it would be my "crystal" grinder if i ever did that.
Yeah, my potential crystal grinder is the one I use to grind spices, not my coffee grinder... figured I'd blow it out really well, and anything left would probably rinse away just fine or would come up with a damp sponge. Wet crystals are slippy, not gummy.
tcs, You made me laugh. My friends all tease me when I call the dish cloth a wash rag. It's what my mother always said and those habits aquired in youth are hard to break! I think I was about 40 before I stopped calling the fridge an ice box.
No, it's a depression era thing. My mom is an easterner. People always look at me strangely, if I say that too. I occasionally forget. She also called every type of heating device, the radiator, didn't matter that it was baseboard or forced hot air vents.
Stormy, she didn't grow up in the Depression, but she did grow up post-Depression and WW II. The thing that gets me is to hear people say "carry" instead of "take". Ex: "I'm going to carry my neighbor to the store." or "I'll carry that to the car for you."
I have used Scott's Metro Mix and Fafard soil-less mixtures in the past. This year I splurged and bought some ProMix. I would recommend that people stay away from the dirt-cheap Miracle Grow, Walmart, Hyponex mixes. Often, they are not well screened and contain a lot of wood twigs, bark chips, etc. that make it tough for seeds to emerge. And the mix doesn't need added fertilizer. Your seedlings don't need much nutrition at first and these mixes tend to be loaded up with nitrogen. I fertilizer with a fish/seaweed mixture and use some general-purpose hydroponic fertilizers. If you want ferts in your potting mixture, why not throw in a scoop of alfalfa meal which is a bio-stimulant. In order to grow stocky transplants, you don't want to overdo the fertilizer during the seedling stage.
I always mix Alfalfa in the potting mix and put liquid fish & kelp ferilizer in the water. I also use Biotone or Organica Growth start, both of which are full of Beneficial Organisms. Conscentrated endo & ecto Mycorrhizza powder too.
I buy the MetroMix at a place called Broxterman nursery. I found Fafard at Nature's Corner on Ebenezer Rd. These places don't have them out for display, you have to ask for them. However, I'd call first. They might have changed mixes now and aren't even open at this time of year. If you're lucky you find someone there working in the greenhouse even in winter.
If you like ProMix , Worm's Way in Erlanger carries the large compressed bales of it. It's pretty pricey, over $40/bale, but those compressed bales hold a lot of mix! I think it's 3.7 cu ft. Worm's Way is a great place, one of the few local places with a good supply of organic ferts, hydroponic stuff, potting mixes and components to make your own, all kinds of neat stuff. I frequent the place just to browse and see what else I can't live without.
Yes, Marilyn, the bales of ProMix is on the display floor, back in the corner. If you don't see it, just ask. The clerks there are very friendly and helpful. Every time I go there for one thing I come home with a lot of stuff.
When I was last there, a few weeks ago, a nice lady graciously gave me a few coleus cuttings. Their plants were growing hydroponically but I potted them in potting mix. They're so pretty, and doing well.
I'm using a product called "Top Notch". It's organic and not too expensive, surprisingly. Never used it before, so it'll be an experience. I'll be mixing it with some other organic stuff I've got, too.
Hi, to all~~I know I've been a bum about DG in the past few months and I've missed you all. Don't know why I've been so negligent exactly, except that I've already shared/ranted/lectured all the info I know with everyone, and there's not much else in my head right now!
But, I just saw Promix today at Baker's Feed Store in Milford (a short jaunt from 275) and I believe they had it for $27. a bale. But I didn't read the quantity. And as far as I could tell it was just called "Promix" Planting Mix. They only had one kind of Promix.
They also had Miracle Grow plant. mix but I don't know if it's the moisture crystal kind.
I believe Wolfangle's Nursery on Beechmont in Anderson carries the Fafard products, but you should call them first because they have limited winter schedule. If you go there, you must stop and see me, though! I live very close.
After Baker's stop today I went to GFS Food Service and bought some large cups (for $1.29 for like 25 of them) and I'm going to fill those with the planting mix and plant each kind of seed in one, and then put them all in those big plastic bins (drilled for drainage) that they sell at HD, Lowes, Big Lots, etc. and put the lid on (in which of course I drilled holes.).
So that's my plan. And I'm going to do it tomorrow. I feel like I am late getting started, but maybe not. (Thanks tcs for giving me a nudge!)
Now I'm going to surf around on DG and see what else is going on (and I already read Dave's soulful thread from today announcing his last day here on the Site. Makes me sad.)
Did anybody use MG moisture control potting mix? A new gardening friend told me she tried it and liked it and she had a high rate of success with her WS project. I bought a small bag to try and love it for the lightweight feel. Since it doesn't compact like the regular potting mix, you might have a tendency to use more, maybe? I potted up my plants that I'm taking to a plant swap in that today. Did not water them because the plants had 1 1/2 inch of rain over last 48 hrs. but will spray them tomorrow or mist them.
Here's a definition from the "Gardenology" site on your GUIDES AND INFORMATION tab at the top of your home page.
DAMPING OFF. A fungus, usually affecting seedlings, that causes the stem to rot off at soil level. Sterilized potting soil and careful sanitation practices usually prevent this. Also referred to as damp-off.
If you've ever seen a little seedling shrivel up and the stem sort of pinches closed until it just keels over and dies, you've seen damping off. Hydrogen peroxide in the water is touted as helping ward off damping off. I've been using 1 capful/gallon water and bottom watering the seedlings. Pour off any remaining water after about 10-15 minutes, so the seedlings aren't sitting in standing water. So far, only two out of about 41 seedlings have had damp off.