Blend Your Own Seed Starting Mix

The countdown to seed starting is on!  Each week I'm trying to get a few little things in order, so when it comes time to start those tomato seeds, I'm ready to go. Last week I mentioned a basic formula for blending your own seed starting mix as an alternative to purchasing pre-made seed starting mix, and that is exactly what I checked off my to-do list this week.

Why Blend Your Own
In general, there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with bags of starter mix you buy at your local garden center.  I've used them, they work well, and if you only need a small amount, the convenience factor definitely comes into play.  With a little bit of careful label reading you can find a good mix, but there are some advantages to blending your own:

You may find that there are some slight variations in different formulas for starter mix (usually a matter of personal preference), but essentially seed starting mix needs to be fine, light, and regulate water well. The seed starting mix that I like to use is a blend of the following components, all of which are easy to find at your local garden center:

To start blending your own starter mix, combine 4 parts compost, 2 parts peat, 1 part perlite, and 1 part vermiculite in a container for mixing.  Dig right in with your hands (yay! you'll have dirt under your fingernails for the first time this season!) and start blending the mixture together until there are no longer pockets of one material and the starter mix has a consistent appearance (a good blend of all four components).  Dampening the mixture with a little water will help keep the dust down and make filling the starter pots a little easier.

That's all there is to it!
Leftover blended seed starting mix can be stored to be used a later time.  It's important to keep starter mix as sterile as possible, so allowing the mix to dry out excess moisture and storing it in a container with a cover will prevent bugs, molds, and mildews from making themselves at home in the soil mix and wrecking havoc on tender seedlings.  Likewise, leftover materials can also be stored for future use.  I use a large plastic tub to store the individual bags of peat, perlite, and vermiculite together, but I like to use any leftover compost in the garden (throw a handful in the hole before you transplant the seedlings - they'll love it!).

If you do not have the storage space or the desire to save leftover seed starting mix from season to season, just work whatever is leftover into your garden soil.

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