Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seedling potting mixes, home made

I have been looking in my garden books for some seed and potting soil mixes and like to share some.

Many of the older recipes call for peat moss, peat moss is not a sustainable material so I like to substitute coco fiber for it. This used be hard to find but now you can buy coco fiber in many home and garden stores. The other common ingredients in these mixes are vermiculite, perlite, sand, coarse sand, milled sphagnum peat moss, leaf mold, compost, good garden soil.
Then some nutrient ingredients you might need for potting soil, which are cotton seed, rock phospate, green sand, blood meal, bone meal, lime, wood ash.

Here are the recipe and the source they are from.

Seedling mixes

1. from the Lane County Master Gardener Association, Eugene, Oregon
'Garden Rhytm-A year round guide and journal for the maritime Northwest

Seedling mix

1 part garden soil or finished Compost
1 part equal amounts of sand, vermiculite, and perlite
1 part coconut fiber

mix all ingredients together. To sterilize, bake the soil in an uncovered pan at 180°F for 30 to 60 minutes.

2. from the old garden book stable Rodale,
'All new encyclopedia of Organic Gardening-the indispensable Resource for every Gardener'
page 529

they suggest for a soil less mix using the ingredient alone or mix two or more together. No proportions are given, so you have to experiment
Ingredients given are
vermiculite, milled sphagnum peat moss (you can substitute coconut fiber), perlite, and compost. Use it to grow until the seedlings have their first true leaves and then transplant them in a richer potting mix.

3. from the same Rodale book. If you like to start the seedlings in a richer mix so you don't have to transplant them.
combine equal amounts of compost and vermiculite

4. From the book 'Growing Vegetables west of the Cascades' by Steve Solomon

Seedling mix

1 part by volume garden soil
1/2 part by volume finely screened compost
1/2 part by volume sifted and premoisted sphagnum moss
Blend into each cubic foot (5 gallons) of mix:
2 cups complete organic fertilizer (see below)
1/2 cup agricultural lime (in addition to what is the complete organic fertilizer)

He suggests if you have sandy garden soil to add vermiculite instead of sphagnum moss

Solomon's Fertilizer mix

4 parts seed meal (cotton seed or canola meal are available in our region, also can use linseed meal and soybean meal, all oil seed is generally similar in fertility (6% Nitrogen - 4% Phosporos - 2 % pottasium)
½ part lime (best is an equal mix of agricultural lime and dolomite)
½ part phosphate rock or bone meal (steamed or raw)
½ part kelp meal (any kind of pure seaweed meal from anywhere)

5. from the book 'Great Garden Formulas' from the Rodale company
page 71

Seedling mix

1 part vermiculite
1 part compost (sifted)
Milled sphagnum peat moss, or clean fine sand

Blend vermiculite into compost and fill flats or small (4") pots with the mix.
sow your seeds as directed
Sprinkle a fine dusting of moss or sand on the surface of the mix to discourage the fatal disease called 'damping off' that can infect seedlings at ground level in moist conditions.

6. same book, page 74
This is a High fertility seed starting mix from the Zephyr Farm in Stoughton, Wisconsin

¼ cup ground limestone
1 ½ cups Fertility mix (see recipe below)
3-gallon Bucket (for measuring)
2 buckets sphagnum peat moss (substitute coco fiber)
1 ½ buckets vermiculite
1 ½ buckets compost, shredded and sifted (first spread compost on tarp to dry and shred (if possible), then sift it through ¼-inch hardware cloth)

Sprinkle the ground limestone and Fertility mix over the peat and mix thoroughly
Add the vermiculite and compost and mix well
Yield: 15 gallons of seed starting mix
note: to fill seedling containers, moisten the mix so that you can feel a little moisture when you touch it.
You don't need any extra fertilizer as long you don't overwater, which leaches out the nutrients.

The Zephyr Farm Organic fertility mix

2 cups rock phospate
2 cups green sand
2 cups blood meal
½ cup bone meal
¼ cup kelp (seaweed) meal
yield: 6-3/4 cups

mix all ingredients together
sprinkle the Fertility mix over 15 gallons of commercial potting soil, or stir into the seed starting formula above


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