“Dont judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Now the cooler weather has arrived, I have been getting busy in the greenhouse.
Until fairly recently, my seed raising success has been patchy at best.
Seeds used to really intimidate me in the garden. I really couldn’t be bothered. And I was a bit impatient. It was just far easier to buy punnets. But, before long, I wanted varieties that just weren’t grown by the punnet distributors. If I wanted to grow the interesting stuff, it had to be from seed.
Besides, punnets are expensive. Eight plants for $3.00 or a packet of 1000 seeds for the same price. You don’t have to be an economic expert to figure out that math! Plus, heirloom varieties, with some careful planning, return seed to you year after year. Clearly, growing from seed is much better value.
So, when starting to experiment with seeds a few years ago, I sought the advice of a well-known nurseryman .
“Just dig up some soil you are planning to plant them in” he said. “And stick ’em in that. If they’re not going to grow in that, you’re buggered the minute you transplant them anyway.”
And because there was some truth in his reasoning, I gave it a go. The problem was, my soil was effectively beach sand. It offered no nutrient, compacted in the pot and was water repellant. Not much other than nasturtiums survived that experiment.
So I hunted around and found another recipe for seed raising mix.
I blended peat moss, coarse river sand (yes, despite being surrounded by sand, can you believe I was encouraged to buy the “right” sand), carefully sifted compost & worm castings and a handful of blood and bone for good measure.
This worked much better!
But, I still had a few problems. It took forever to prepare and mix. It was expensive. My sifted compost introduced dozens of uninvited seeds, making it hard to determine if indeed the right plant was showing up in the pot, or if it was an impostor. Often, there was a number of competing plants springing up in the one seedling pot. I even suspected the compost worms introduced into my mix snacked on the germinating seeds.
So back to the drawing board.
I reckoned I didn’t really need a super-dooper nutritious mix. Seeds have their own sprouting food source in the germ of the seed itself. What they need is warmth, and soil that isn’t going to get waterlogged, or dry out too fast. It has to be friable enough for delicate roots to penetrate. Not too expensive would be nice too. Plus, it has to be easy for me to mix, and good for the soil I will eventually plant into.
After a bit of experimenting, I think I have found the winner. And it couldn’t be simpler. Two ingredients.
My Never-Fail-Two-Ingredient Seed Raising Mix
1 measurement of reconstituted finely shredded coir fibre.
1 measurement of vermiculite. (I buy mine in big bags from the pet store. It’s MUCH cheaper than getting it from the garden centre or hardware store.)
Too easy. It’s good in punnet trays, my little paper pots and of course, plastic.
It holds it’s water without getting soggy and is freely draining. It works a treat. I only plant with freshly mixed seed raising mix. No chance of contamination.
See? Purple broccoli, tomatoes and lettuce all love this mix! In fact, they love it so much, you can see I have a bit of thinning to do before I plant. Since using this mix, I can be more conservative with the number of seed I sow.
When the seeds start to grow their second set of leaves, I water them with diluted compost tea to boost them with some nutrient and bacteria before they make their way out into the big wide space that is my veggie patch.
I save my compost for my actual garden soil or potting mix.
My seedy success has just sky-rocketed with this mix. I urge you to give it a try.
What do you use for seed raising mix? Have you tried this mix before? Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.