Potting mix or seed starter mix

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I called a local well know plant nursery yesterday to inquire if Fafard potting mix was available at this time of the year at their store. I had gone on the internet and it showed this nursery as being one of their merchants that sell this brand. Spoke with one of the garden center managers and he said that they do sell it but in small sizes, and they also sell Promix..but a lot of the staff in the garden center have been trying the Espoma organic potting mix and really like it. I told him what I wanted to use it for and he suggested I use a seed starter mix instead of potting mix. I plan to go there in person after Christmas is over and talk with this mgr. personally, even take my WS pictures if necessary. Have any of you used this product before. If you google it, you will find that it has something added to it that gives the seeds a good start. He says it is lighter than potting mix..does that mean it might dry out quicker? I don't want to have to get out in the cold or snow covered ground and water the containers. That happened last year with two tubs of sees when I tried coffee cups and cold drink cups. The ones in the milk jugs and liter bottles did beautifully. I think I only had one or two jugs that didn't germinate; they were seeds that were donated to me so they may have been old seeds to begin with that somebody passed on. Everything was fine buried under the 55 in. of snow, plenty of moisture then but when it melted a month later, the yard was so muddy, I couldn't get to the containers that held the coffee cups/cold drink cups and they dried up. Even with watering them when I could get out there didn't survive them, so I lost a lot. Learning experience I won't make in 2011.

Would like to hear about anybody else's experiences with seed starter mix for wintersowing. Maybe this gentleman thought I was going to grow indoors "under lights". Would that make a difference in the soil used?

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

By 'lighter' he may mean it's not as fertilizer rich. Seedlings cannot take too much fertilizer, whereas more mature, established plants can. Anyway, that's my take on how potting soil vs starter soil works.

Try adding some shredded coir to your soil mix, it will help it hold moisture longer.

HTH. Keep on tryin', it's the only way to learn what will work for you.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

In the late Spring or early summer, I bought Miracle Grow potting mix with the crystals in it. I used MG last year but without..and only because Home Depot is one mile from where we live and it is convenient, but I didn't like it; bunch of trash in it as far as I was concerned. You're right, each person has to try different brands and see what works best for them. I know a lot use Pro-mix but that is double the price of MG..another factor one must consider. The man from the nursery mentioned Promix being good but the bales he mixes in a wheelbarrow. I can't do that here where we live. Need to mix small amounts and take it inside the house to kitchen where it's warm. Garage is too cold to work in. I will mix it in 5 gal. Homer Bucket or in one of those dishpans/plastic basins that they give you when you are in hospitals.

Are you suggesting using coir bricks in with the seed starter mix or potting mix? I've read where some of the GW members use the coir, but I didn't understand whether they use it alone or mixed in with their other potting mix of their perference.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

People do both, use coir alone or mixed with potting soil. I bought a bag of CocoCoir, not bricks, but I think it's all the same, just needs to be shredded.

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

I could be 'way wrong, but I always thought that seed-starter mix was too light for WS purposes, where you're really trying to replicate something close to an actual seed-bed in the garden--though with good drainage, protection from the elements, and no opportunity for critters to carry off the seeds. I use whatever good quality potting mix I find on sale for WS purposes, which has ranged from Fafard, to Espoma, to Pro-Mix. (And even Miracle-Gro.) All have given me good results. But I'd be interested in hearing from an expert about using pure seed-starter mix for WS.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I'm sure after the holidays maybe some will read up on the forums and post their views. Everybody is so busy right now and WS is not a priority until after New Year's when all the Christmas decorations,etc. are put away. Christmas is only a few days away and already I'm ready to get this mess put away for another year.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

oK sounds like we need some good soil information for winter sowing.. i know nothing about outdoor wintersowing.I do start bedding plants under lights in the house and I use seed starting mix ,soil less.I have been wondering what I need to use for best results outside.Seeing that I have been too lazy to read up on the subject,Im such a procrastinator,seriously..LOL Betty you can testifie to that ,i owe you a long email..Tamara

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

the site that I went to to get info on germination timing said that he used 'compost'. Sounds pretty heavy to me. I just bought some Black Gold seed soil and it is indeed very light. Planted in gallon jugs and they are out by the garage next to a snow bank where they should be safe. Snow should be gone by the middle end of April. I hope.

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