Starting a garden can be super exciting, but there is a lot to know, especially when it comes to starting seeds indoors. There are many options for what medium to start your seeds. We’ll go over a few of the most popular options so you can make your choice on the best seed starting mix for your gardening style.
Starting seeds can be a tricky thing if you don’t know what you are doing. It isn’t as easy as dropping some seeds into some dirt, and just adding water. There are some things to consider when choosing which type of soil you plant your seeds.
If you are also needing seed starting supplies, I have a really cool list of super cheap supplies you can get from the dollar store. The dollar store is my very favorite place to get gardening supplies because it allows me to do a lot of gardening without breaking the bank. You’ll be able to get that cool list at the bottom of this post.
Rules of Thumb for Choosing Seed Starting Mix
A good rule of thumb when starting seeds indoors is to choose a sterile medium. This will give your sprouted seedlings the best chance at life because harmful bacterias and molds will not be present in the mix. It doesn’t mean you won’t have problems with those things, though.
Another good rule of thumb is that the soil needs to be able to hold water. It’s important for the seeds to remain in contact with the damp soil so that the outer shell of the seed can soften and the lovely little seedling can emerge easily.
What Not to Use
You may be wondering if it’s possible to simply go out into the garden and fill your pots with the soil where you will eventually be planting your seedlings. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could? But no, that doesn’t usually work for sprouting seeds.
Why? For a few reasons. One reason is because it’s not sterile. The soil out in your garden already has an eco-system built into it, including bacterias that seedlings may not be able to fend off as a young sprout. Another reason is because the structure of the outdoor soil isn’t conducive to starting seeds indoors. Depending on the type of soil you have, it may be too heavy or dense, which would maybe suffocate the seedling as it sprouted. It may also be unable to hold water, which would allow the seed or seedling to dry out before it had a chance.
Now that we’ve got that question answered, let’s take a look at some of the options that will help you sprout your seeds with success.
Premade Seed Starting Mix
Premade seed starting mix is a great choice. It’s easy to use and is specially formulated to provide the proper environment for your seeds to sprout into beautiful seedlings. It is very light in weight and texture, and is easy to use.
Use premade seed starting mix in the container of your choice. Your options are plastic trays, pressed cardboard containers, small plastic containers, seed starting flats, or really any container you’d like. Just make sure to wash used containers in soap and hot water before using them for starting seeds.
If you need to purchase new containers, there are a few really cheap options in my Top 5 Crazy Cheap Seed Starting Tools You Can Get from the Dollar Store cheat sheet. It’s in my resource library, and you can get the password to that at the end of this post.
Homemade Seed Starting Mix
You can make your own seed starting mix if you are a seasoned gardener who stocks plenty of different garden amending products in your shed. At the very least, if you have some perlite or vermiculite and some peat moss, you should be able to put together something that will work for seed starting.
If this idea intrigues you, there are many recipes on the internet for different seed starting mixes. It isn’t my choice to make my own because I’m concerned about bacteria and molds growing in open bags of peat moss. Still, many make their own and it seems to work well for them!
This is by far my favorite medium for sprouting seeds. Peat pellets are easy to use, compact, and easy to move around if I need to. Basically, these have the seed starting mix inside of nylon mesh. You have to activate the pellets with warm water, and once you do, you can plant your seeds into them. They are much less messy than filling pots with seed starting mix.
There are plenty of different sizes of pellets, and you would choose your size based on the size seed you are planting. For small seeds, a 36mm pellet would work perfectly. However, if you are planting larger seeds, or you know you won’t want to “plant up” at all before you plant outside, you may want to get a 50mm sized pellet.
Which one will work best for you?
Now it’s time for you to decide which of these seed starting mixes fits your gardening style. Do you love easy, like me? Then peat pellets might be the way to go. Love to get your hands in the dirt? Perhaps one of the seed starting mixes is for you. Whatever you choose, make sure to choose something that is sterile, and that will hold water adequately so that your seedlings have the best chance at a long life!