Growing your own seedlings is a great way to save money and extend the joy of your gardening pleasure. Among the few things you will need to make this happen is a good potting medium.
Regardless, whether you make your own potting medium, or purchase it ready made there are a few things that separate a good potting soil mix from a bad one.
A successful potting medium has to be capable of supplying the plants with 4 of the 5 basic needs for health and growth, (the 5th being light) these are:
A good potting mix should have an even balance of both solid and porous particles to promote good aeration and drainage but also be capable of retaining water and nutrients.
Roll-over image to enlarge
If the mix is too porous it won’t retain enough water or nutrients. If it is not porous enough it will become too heavy, retain too much water and cause insufficient aeration for good root development. The roots become starved for oxygen, plant growth slows, often succumbing to root rot and dies.
There is a large number of different types of potting mediums available, both commercial and homemade. Many of them often share common ingredients and vary only in the different amounts of the ingredients depending on the stage of growth, type of plant, season and even the type and size of container the particular mix is being used for.
Roll-over image to enlarge
As seedling get older the pot sizes will increase accordingly. The potting mix used will need to be heavier and able to retain nutrients. It should also be dense enough to support growing seedlings and be free of pathogens and weed seed.
The principle guideline for a potting mix is, the smaller the pot and the younger the seedling the lighter the mixture.
This page is written principally for the raising of vegetable seeds and seedling. Potting mixes for many flowers and fruits are often specialized and can vary considerably for different plant types and growth stages.
Most vegetable seedlings are started and grown in small seed cells and pots for a relatively short time and their needs are far less complex than other plants that are going to spent their entire growth cycle in a pot or container.
For this reason using a quality potting mix for growing vegetable seedlings quickly and without a growth check is important.
While many potting mixes contain ingredients that are acceptable for growing some potted plants there are many that have no place in potting mixes for growing vegetable seedlings. So what’s in the potting mix you use and is it necessary or just a cheap filler. Follow this link for the dirty truth on potting mix ingredients.
A soilless potting mix is a growing medium used when growing seeds, seedlings and other plants that are confined to seed cells and pots. There are a number of different materials that are used to create this potting medium, as he name implies soil is not one of them. Follow this link for a look at some of the options best suited for growing vegetable seeds and seedlings
There are lots of reasons why many gardeners choose to make their own
homemade potting mix. With hundreds of recipes available there is
plenty of scope for those who enjoy experimenting to develop a recipe
that works best for the type and size of plants they are growing. This
page deals mainly with the simple mixes that have been proven over the
This slideshow covers how to make a simple seed starting mix using coconut coir fiber as the base ingredient using a common 650g brick. The finish potting mix can be used for both seed starting and adding ingredients to for making potting on mixes for older vegetable seedlings as they grow their way to transplanting.