Help me get this Jiffy Mix wet!

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm trying to start some seeds and wondering exactly how to do this. What I've done before is just keep wetting it until it finally absorbs the water, BUT I think by doing that I get it TOO wet. Where is the "happy medium" here?

This message was edited Feb 4, 2005 7:33 PM

Lima, OH(Zone 5a)

Put mix in papertowel in flat plastic container, pour pan of hot water over until it is wet, drain, then squeeze papertowel, to get water out.

Hope this helps.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you!! I finally had the brilliant idea to mix it together in something FIRST then put it in the trays. This method sounds a lot cleaner than what I just did (lol) so I'll do that next.

smithton, MO(Zone 5a)

i have found that if you add a bit of dish soap to some warm water then pour it over the soil, put a lid of some sort on top, it will absorb a bit better..this is how i wet my pro mix


Fort Wayne, IN(Zone 5a)

I'm sure everyone is getting annoyed with my repetition but the best way to get that dry potting soil, Jiffy Mix, Metro mix, peat moss etc. to absorb water is to stick it in the microwave for 10 minutes with at least a cup of water, more if very dry to a half gallon of soil. Leave it loosely covered in the microwave, tighter after. It needs to retain the heat to kill microbes and weed seeds and insect eggs and for the water to permiate the media. Boiling water can rehydrate it to some extent but nuking it works much better for something you use for seeds because it is under pressure if you close the lid plus the water turns to steam which is hotter and more effective. Jessamine

(Linda) Winfield, KS(Zone 6a)

jessamine how much jiffy mix do you put in the microwave. I have a bag that says it is 10 dry quarts. You mix the jiffy mix and water together then microwave. I'm so sorry for the stupid questions here but I am getting ready to try the jiffy mix for the first time. I just recently seeded about 30 hibiscus and just used regular ole potting soil and had real good luck. But I want to go with your method now. Thanks.

Had to edit to correct my spelling, not only do I ask stupid questions, but I have SpellCheck and sometimes I forget to use it.

This message was edited Feb 5, 2005 10:20 AM

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Jessamine, I'm not aware of any "reputation" yet so feel free to explain this to me! ;) I wasn't going to start any seeds this year because it seemed to be so time consuming with little payoff last year, which was my first time to try it. (I know I did most of it wrong tho) As much as I want to just be able to throw the seeds in some dirt and walk away, I would really like to be successful at it this year. I never thought about those "things!" being in the mix but I certainly would like to kill them if they are. So I take the potting mix and put at least a cup of water in it, then put it in the microwave and loosely cover it, nuke it for 10 minutes, then cover it tightly (like with a lid?) and then let it sit for a while. And this process is going to help it absorb the water. I'll give it a try! Thanks so much!

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I think you have old potting soil. If you have nice fresh bag, you will have no trouble getting it wet.
We had a half bale left over last year, couldn't get it to take water either.
A new bale just purchased, sucked up water like a sponge.

Peat moss by itself repels water, the potting mixes have an added wetting agent. It must lose it's effect after a period of time.


Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I do know it's drier than last year but I had the same problem with this soil-less mix then too. Just to be sure tho, yesterday I did go buy a new bag. I'll be giving it all another try today.

Stockton, MO(Zone 6b)

I pour some of the dry Jiffy-mix into a large mixing bowl, then pour in some warm water and mix with a large spoon. Kind of like a cake. I try not to get too much water in it, but if I do, I just add a little more dry mix.

When it is a nice moist consistency, I spoon it into the seeding containers, just like measuring flour for baking. You might want to tap the side a little to fill in well, but you don't want to pack it like brown sugar.

To plant. I just dop a seed or two on top, sprinkle some dry Jiffy-mix over it, and wet it down with a spray bottle.

Fort Wayne, IN(Zone 5a)

I guess if I was just doing a few flats or didn't mind using more chemicals I might not worry about dealing with pasturizing my seed starting mix, but when I may be starting a couple of hundred, many of which are for someone else, the idea of losing whole flats to grey mold stops me in my tracks and I nuke the stuff. The last time I didn't was when I was supposed to start some seed for oriental veggies for a friend whose wife is from the Philipines. The soil didn't absorb the water enough to sprout the seeds even with twice a day watering. When I realized what was wrong, it was almost too late to start over. Very embarrassing. I'm still embarrassed. When the soil gets dry it gets a hard coating on the particles that won't let the water through. It will let steam through. I guess it is reducing the surface tension of the water so it can penetrate and it opens up the little air pockets in the soil particles so water can settle in them. In any case, it works on old soil as well as new bags of soil and reactivates the moisture control as well. That also saves money. I don't have to get Captan or other chemicals that have been suspected of being cancer causing agents. Some of my friends like to grow organicly, too and nukeing the soil meets their requirements. I sometimes give classes on propagation and soil pasturization is something I stress over and over.
I used to use Ziploc bags but they have changed their formula and heat makes the bags too weak to use over and over, so I use old Tupperware canisters. They work great and I can store the soil in them for a long time. You don't have to mix the water in. Just pour a cup or two of water into the container with a half gallon of soil. Cover it with the lid but don't seal it until you have removed it from the microwave to cool off. I set it for 10 minutes on high. I have read shorter times or other quantities but this works best in my experience. The idea is to turn the water to steam.You can use more water if the soil seems too dry.I have never had water standing or mud from using too much although I guess it is possible. The soil will be nice and fluffy and evenly moist. There will be no lumps or clumps. The steam breaks them up. Some people bake the soil in the oven but it doesn't get the soil moist and it stinks up the kitchen and takes more than an hour for each panful. Pouring boiling water over flats of soil will give you shrunken and badly distorted flats. Boiling water is much more time consuming, uneven and doesn't get as hot and is more dangerous. It cools off too fast as well. Jessamine

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Jessamine gives good info folks....I don't use the mix with the wetting's a chemical. Most of my seedlings are edibles and if I'm not going to use chemicals in the makes sense not to use them when you start the seeds either.

I've microwaved my seed starting mix for years too....use old tupperware and rubbermaid containers. One secret is that you don't go grab your bag of mix and expect to start seeds 10 minutes later. I make sure everything is ready the day before...and never put dry mix in the flats.

Bernie is right...good mix that is properly sealed in the bag needs very little moisture. If you are useing mix left over from the year before...the microwave is your friend.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I appreciate all of the info!! I know nothing about chemicals or wetting agents. Does my Jiffy Mix contain these? I prefer not to use any chemicals that are not necessary. I'm not growing veggies but just try and avoid them for myself and my family. Did you know that microwaving plastic causes cancer causing particles to leak into foods? If you are growing veggies, maybe microwaving in glass would be better? Just a thought. Thanks so much everyone! I am just doing this for myself and my own enjoyment and hopefully will get some satisfaction from it. lol I can use all the help I can get!

(Linda) Winfield, KS(Zone 6a)

jessamine THANKS once again. I like the microwave method the best. This is the one I'm going to use. I knew I had read somewhere about the use of a microwave but couldn't remember where. I need to start writting down all the good things that I read. Thanks again


Fort Wayne, IN(Zone 5a)

Hey Linda, what's "writting". LOL. That why I have a printer.
Konkreteblond, I can't know for sure but I suspect the microwave/plastic=cancer is one of those things that will never be proved for certain. Too many variables but you might look at the inside of your microwave. Most of it is plastic. As for the wetting agent in the Jiffy-mix, the bag will tell you. The seed starter blends I have seen are mostly made of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, all materials designed to hold water. They are expensive compared to good quality potting soil which also has compost and shredded organic material in it. I think if they added the water retaining crystals it would raise the cost to the stratisphere. One way I save money is to use germination trays that have several dozen 1/2 x1/2 x1/2 divisions in each tray which is the same size as the ones that hold 72 divisions (or 12 six pacs). That is a lot less seed starter. One quarter, if my mind is working right. Once the seeds are germinated, you prick them out and put them in a standard flat. It is also a big space saver. It is also far less work to mainain one tray than 5 or so. Also you don't have those empty spots in the six pack and no more doubleing up on seeds per division. Have fun. Jessamine

Kannapolis, NC(Zone 7b)

Jessamine thanks so MUCH for the microwave tip! It's a keeper! Starting a ton this weekend so it's just in time too!!! I usually just dump water straight into my bag and mix it with a fork. Believe it or not that's worked for me for years with very little dampening off but this microwave thing sounds too good not to try!


(Linda) Winfield, KS(Zone 6a)


Thanks a bunch. I am going with the microwave and will be using Tupperware, the lids always seem to fit better. You'll right about using the printer to print off material I want to remember, my head must be stuck where the sun doesn't shine. These days I guess that could be almost anywhere, in our zone. Today we are having freezing rain. But I enjoy sitting in my computer room that is where I have all my newly started brugs, hibiscus. I have some banana tree or plant seeds coming that I got off EBay and some Jungle Red Hibiscus seeds that I want to start. I did start my other hibiscus in the tray that holds 72 and then moved them to a bigger size after they got going good. I just can't wait for spring. My DH asked me last week end what I was going to do with all these new plants that I have started. I just looked at him and smiled and said we are going to plant them, and then we can give some away. He just laughed and shock his head.

Waxhaw (Charlotte), NC(Zone 7b)

I like to pre-moisten the mixture in a platic "baggie". Just add a bit of water, and work it with your hands through the plastic bag. The goal is to get it moderately moist, so it stick together, but without being too wet. Squeeze a handfull and it should stick into a ball (not fall apart) but no water should drip.

You should never put dry peatmoss sphagnum, or growing mix, into a pot or cell pack because it will expand when wet and squeeze air out.

I recommend that you use above method, fill the pots/cell packs, and then tap the container to settle the mixture. Sow your seeds, and then water from below, until the surface glistens. Put aside to drain and cover with clear plastic.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

If you get more than just a faint mist of moisture on your plastic covers, then your mix is too wet.

Alma, IL

The fastest way I found to wet Jiffy Mix is to put a quantity of the dry mix into a bucket and then pour water in with it. Then swirl (shake) the bucket around. The mix gets wet in just a few seconds.

I earlier had left some water on the dry mix for a couple hours, and it absolutely did not soak in the least bit. The agitation of the bucket did it almost instantly.

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