Friday, February 15, 2013

Time to Think Gardening

Making Soil mixes and Soilless mixes for Seed Starting 
These are the ratios I prefer.  1/3. 1/3. 1/3 
 Peat moss,  Sand or Perlite or or vermiculite,  Sterilized Soil.   
I like being able to mix up any amount i need.  If you don’t need a huge batch you can use this as a basis for choosing a store-bought seed-starting mix.. Most popular soil mixes in stores have chemical fertilizers added that are unnecessary and will defeat the purpose of growing organically.
 When plants need nutrients I add compost to the soil mix or just place some compost around the plants.   When using seed starting mix to start seed, seeds do not require any fertilizers until they produce their first set of “True Leaves“. In basic terms this means the second set of leaves you will see. The first leaves that appear are called “seed leaves” and feed the seedling until the first “true leaves”appear.
  • 1 part peat or coir (Coir is a sustainable peat substitute made from coconut husks. Peat is mined from marshland, destroying natural habitats. When you can, use coir.)
  • 1 part perlite (popped volcanic ash that creates good drainage.), vermiculite (water absorbing material made from the mineral mica), or Sand
  • 1 part potting soil, or sterilized soil
To Sterilize soil:  Place lightly moist soil  in a heat resistant container or pan which can be covered, in an oven set at 250 degrees.  Allow the soil to reach 180 degrees for 30 minutes. ( you can check the temp with a meat thermometer)  
 To prevent odors and to ensure good heat penetration cover the container tightly with foil.  Do not over heat the soil.
Sterilizing the soil helps prevent damping-off and other plant diseases.  

Soilless mixes are great for for germination:  made of  half peat moss and half vermiculite.  These work great for seed starting because they are generally free of diseases , weed seeds, and insects.  They are easy to find and are light weight.  They produce uniform plant growth.

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