On a cold 10 degree day, I found myself wandering out into the stark frontier of what was to become, in a few months, the bustling garden center at my local home improvement center. No, I wasn’t lost or confused, it was seed starting season for tomatoes and peppers and I was on the hunt for seed starting soil mix. Back and forth I wandered along the racks, brushing snow off of the bags of soil and amendments to see what I had to work with. Back and forth, back and forth a little more…did I really expect it to suddenly appear where it hadn’t been before? (Sort of like when you go to the refrigerator because you are hungry, open the door and see nothing that suits you, close it and open it a few minutes later expecting to see something this time that appeals. Ah, but I diverge.) Realizing that I would have to get a bit more resourceful, I did a mental inventory of what I had at home…peat moss (check), pearlite (tiny check), topsoil (not that I can think of)…so I wandered back down the aisle to pick up a couple of bags of topsoil. I can only imagine the humor someone would have found in watching me retrieve it and wrestle it into my cart. The bags, mind you, were on a shelf about shoulder height, covered in snow and frozen together. After much tugging and grunting (and yes, in my mind it helped), I was able to pop a couple of the topsoil bricks, I mean bags, free and get them into my cart and to the checkout so that I could be on my way.
The next day, after letting the three components thaw to a useable state, I went to work concocting my own seed starter mix. Keep in mind if you decide to make up your own mix, the peat moss and pearlite are quite dusty and it is best to wear some sort of dust mask when making the mix. Here are the proportions I unscientifically came up with and decided to use.
Seed Starter Mix:
2 parts peat moss
1 part pearlite
1 part topsoil
You don’t need anything “nourishing” in this mix because it is just to get the seeds started, in a well drained enviroment that they can easily push through. At this stage, I should have sterilized the soil, but I didn’t. I am crossing my fingers that all will be well and that it won’t be a lesson learned in a few weeks and have decided to forgo that step right now.
Finally, it was time to dig out the pots and seeds and get started.
First I needed to make sure that the pots from last year were cleaned with a 1:10 bleach to water ratio to get them sterilized and ready to become the welcoming seed nurseries for the tomatoes and peppers.
Next order of business was to slightly dampen the seed starting mix that I made up. Since it takes some time for the mixture to absorb water, and because I wanted to add water a little at a time to be sure that I did not get the mix too soggy, I should have probably started this first and worked on the pot sterilization while the soil mix was getting to the right dampness level, which some describe as a slightly damp, wrung out sponge.
Finally, I was ready to get to the planting stage. Since this was going to be a temporary home for the seedlings, I opted to plant multiple seeds of one kind per pot. All that I did was place the seeds on the surface of the soil and lightly sprinkled a small amount of the soil mixture on top.
I chose to place the pots in rectangular flats and place those on top of seed staring heating pads in the window and put a cover over top to create a mini-greenhouse effect until the seeds start to sprout. Now all that I need is time and patience.