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How to Make Your Own DIY Seed Starting Mix


Seed trays and young bulbs
Mark Bolton/Photolibrary/Getty Images

If you are a small farmer, buying premade seed starting mix can get a bit pricey. If you can buy the basic ingredients in bulk, it's easy to make your own soil mix for starting seeds.

Why Make Your Own Seed Starting Mix?

It can be much easier to buy large amounts of the basic ingredients for seed starting mix, compared to buying it already made. And you can use your own compost - just screen it first, pass it through a framed screen fitted over a wheelbarrow or other large container to sift out large particles, rocks or other foreign material. If you are composting on-farm, this can save a ton of money.

The other main reason small farmers choose to make their own mix is the same reason they start from seed: to have control over the mix and ultimately, their product: food. For a seed-starting mix, you may eventually want to customize the blend to meet your requirements, whether you're using plastic celled trays or making soil blocks.

Recipe for Seed Starting Mix

This is a basic recipe for an indoor seed-starting mix that can be further customized and built upon. Lightly moisten ingredients with a fine water mist, then blend thoroughly in a large container like a wheelbarrow.

  • 4 parts screened compost
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part vermiculite
  • 2 parts sphagnum peat moss

Designing a Seed Starting Mix

If making your own mix, aim for something that has a balance of being able to stay moist yet draining well. If seedlings are too wet, they may suffer from damping-off, a fungal disease that causes them to wither where the stem meets the soil. Seedlings eventually fall over and die.

If you need a mix that drains more easily, use less compost and more peat moss or perlite. If you are looking for a mix that holds more water, add proportionally more compost or vermiculite.

If you don't use compost in your mix at all, add a quarter teaspoon of lime for every gallon of mix.

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