With the arrival of cooler weather, I’ve been actively engaged in the greenhouse. My success in raising seeds was quite inconsistent until not too long ago.
Initially, the idea of using seeds in my garden was daunting.
I found it too much of a hassle and lacked the patience, preferring the simplicity of purchasing seedling trays. However, I soon realized that the unique varieties I desired weren’t available in these trays.
To cultivate these special plants, I had no choice but to start from seeds.
The cost-effectiveness of seeds is undeniable.
For the price of $3.00, one can either get eight seedlings or a thousand seeds. It’s obvious which option offers more value.
Additionally, heirloom seeds can be saved and reused each year with proper planning, making them an even more economical choice. It’s clear that growing from seeds is a far more cost-effective method.
A few years back, when I began experimenting with seeds, I consulted a renowned nurseryman for advice.
He suggested, “Just use some soil from the area where you plan to plant them. If they don’t grow in that soil, they won’t survive when you transplant them either.”
Recognizing the logic in his words, I decided to try it out. However, the challenge I faced was that my soil was essentially like beach sand. It lacked nutrients, became compact in the pots, and repelled water.
Unfortunately, only nasturtiums managed to thrive under these conditions.
I started to explore and create my own DIY seed raising mixes through research and experimentation.
My mix included peat moss, coarse river sand (ironically, despite being surrounded by sand, I had to purchase the “right” kind), finely sifted compost & worm castings, and a bit of blood and bone for good measure.
This mix was a significant improvement over my beach sand soil!
However, there were still some issues. The preparation and mixing process was time-consuming and costly.
The sifted compost brought in numerous unwanted seeds, making it difficult to identify the correct plants in the pots. Often, several different plants would emerge in a single seedling pot.
I even thought that the compost worms in my mix might be eating the germinating seeds.
I realized that seeds don’t necessarily need a highly nutritious mix, as they have their own food source within the germ. What they require is warmth, and a soil mix that won’t become waterlogged or dry out too quickly. The mix needs to be loose enough for fragile roots to grow through.
Ideally, it would also be affordable, easy for me to mix, and suitable for the soil where I would eventually transplant the seedlings.
After a few more trials, I finally found the perfect formula, and it’s incredibly simple. It consists of just two ingredients.
DIY Seed Raising Mix Recipe
Here’s what you need:
- One part reconstituted, finely shredded coir fiber.
- One part vermiculite (Tip: It’s much more affordable to buy in large bags from pet stores than garden centers or hardware stores).
- Simply mix the coir fiber and vermiculite thoroughly.
- That’s it – you’re done!
It’s surprisingly straightforward, right?
This mix is great for seedling trays, paper pots, and seedling bags. It maintains moisture without becoming waterlogged and is free-draining. I’ve found it to be highly effective, and I always use a freshly mixed batch for planting. This way, there’s no risk of contamination, and the seedlings that emerge are exactly what I expect.
Purple broccoli, tomatoes, and lettuce thrive in this mix. In fact, they do so well that I often need to thin them out before planting. Since switching to this mix, I’ve reduced the number of seeds I sow due to a much higher germination rate.
Once the seeds develop their second set of leaves, I nourish them with diluted worm tea, providing them with nutrients and beneficial bacteria before transferring them to my vegetable garden.
I reserve my compost for enriching garden soil or potting mix.
Since adopting this two-ingredient seed raising mix, my success with seeds has soared. I highly recommend giving it a try!
Have you used a similar mix for seed raising? Have you tried this particular combination before? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!