When you’re into gardening, or just starting to get into it, one of the major issues you’re going to encounter is starting seeds. If you’re used to simply buying seedlings from a nearby nursery and don’t have the experience of starting seeds before, you’ll surely come across difficulties.
Trust me, I’ve been there, and I know how hard it can be, especially if you don’t use the right seed starting mix. For that, I’m here to help you know how to choose the best organic seed starting mix for your garden.
But before we start, let us first have a quick overview of the seed starting mix.
What’s a Seed Starting Mix?
A seed starting mix helps a seed germinate to a seedling then to a full-grown plant. Though you might have been used to buying seedlings straight from a nursery, the problem is that they might have plant diseases which can ultimately affect their growth and overall health.
However, by growing them from seeds via a starting mix, you will be able to control the entire process and even make sure that they remain disease-free.
To choose the best organic seed starting mix, here are some tips I’d recommend you follow:
Choose a Lightweight Mix with Excellent Drainage
To make sure you get the best organic seedling mix, you’d want to go for one that is lightweight, has excellent water retention properties, and has good drainage. This is because good water retention will allow the roots of your seedlings to push through the soil and make sure they have enough room to allow growth.
It Should Contain the Right Ingredients
You also have to pay special attention to the elements that make up a seed starting mix before buying. This way, you can guarantee that your seeds will grow healthily without any issues. While the exact composition of a soil mix will be up to the manufacturer, there are several key ingredients you have to look for. They’re as follows:
Sphagnum Peat Moss
Sphagnum peat moss is considered one of the most important ingredients in a seed starting mix. In fact, most of the seed starting mixes you can find on the market contains this element which is highly absorbent and very lightweight, thereby allowing it to retain moisture which is necessary for your seeds.
Having this ingredient in your starting mix is quite beneficial if you tend to forget watering your plants on a regular basis. It also works best if you live in a dry region. The downside with the peat moss is that it will be a bit difficult to moisten.
Meanwhile, you can also opt for a coconut coir fiber as an alternative to peat moss. In fact, it’s been used in a lot of agricultural and horticultural applications. Like the peat moss, it’s also highly absorbent, capable of absorbing water up to 8 times its weight.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
DE is yet another key ingredient which is found in most potting mixes. It acts as a natural fertilizer which can effectively kill any insects that might affect your seeds, particularly during the germination period.
This ingredient is actually a naturally occurring mineral from fossilized plants known as diatoms. Apart from its neutralizing property, it also contains various minerals such as iron, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and silicon which are all helpful in germinating your plants.
This ingredient will keep the mix moist, allowing your seeds to stay hydrated at all times. Due to that, it’s a vital ingredient which is found in most starting mixes. Like peat moss, it also saves you the trouble of having to water your seeds more often.
The last essential ingredient you should pay attention to is perlite. Despite having a styrofoam-like appearance, perlite is actually made of small natural volcanic mineral which is responsible for its aeration and water retention capabilities. Aside from that, perlite is also ideal for preventing the mix from compacting.
Take Note of its pH Level
A soil’s pH level is a measurement of how acidic or basic a soil is. If you’re in a region with low rainfall, you can expect your soil to have a high pH level. On the other hand, an area that receives more rainfall have soil with a lower pH level.
The best option is to go for a seedling mix that has a pH level of around 5.5 to 6.5. It’s because plants tend to grow best when planted in slightly acidic soil. However, if you’re from a region with low rainfall, you want to look for a seed starting mix which contains calcium and magnesium, or a soil mix with a pH level of around 5.6 to 5.9.
However, since the ingredients added in a starting mix tend to have varying pH levels, manufacturers usually add lime in order to adjust the soil’s overall pH. In general, you want to go for a soil mix with a pH level of around 5.5 to 6.5 to promote optimal germination and growth.
Always Go Organic
While there’s still an ongoing debate whether to go for an organic or conventional seedling mix, there’s also the fact the organic products are continuing to rise in popularity. Due to a large number of consumers going “green”, most manufacturers are also starting to make the shift.
However, there are those who claim that their products are organic despite them being non-organic. As such, you have to make sure you read the fine print first before you decide on a certain seed starting mix.
Additionally, you can check the packaging for the term “OMRI Listed”. This means that the ingredients contained in said starting mix were reviewed and approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute for organic use.
If you’re keen to the idea of growing your plants from seeds, then I highly recommend going for an organic seed starting mix. After all, the fact that you can do the entire germination process on your own can be a rewarding experience.
However, just make sure that you choose your seedling mix properly. Don’t forget to refer to the above tips when buying.
If you have any questions regarding starting mixes, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share it with your gardener friends.