Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Making Seed Raising Mix

For a couple of years now, I have made my own seed raising mix.  I was sick of buying bags of mix from the nursery, and usually the store bought stuff was not as successful as I would have liked.

So, I came up with my own seed raising mixture.  You can usually make your own, as long as it holds moisture and is not very rich in nutrients.  Here is my very basic recipe.

You need a garden sieve, a couple of 10 litre (2 gallon) buckets, and a big tub to mix it all up in.

I used the following ingredients.
  • 2 buckets of sieved compost (which once sieved equated to about 1 bucket in the tub)
  • 1 bucket of fine coconut coir
  • quarter of a bucket of sheep manure, crushed finely (in sack with lump of wood) and sieved
  • 5 big double handfuls of worm castings.
This is a big handful of the end result in my big tub.  The mixture was filled the top when I started!

All ingredients mixed well with gloved hands for about a good 5 minutes for even distribution. Then I wet it down with only a little water mixed with seaweed solution so that it was moist but not damp. If I squeezed it, no water would come out. I did a pH test with a tool I bought long ago and forgot I had, and it was about 7 which is neutral, so there was no need to add anything else to balance it.

Last year I used horse manure and a lot of grass sprouted, which confused me for a while as to what was the deliberately planted seed and what was the weed!  This year I did not have the same problem with the Sheep manure.  Not many weed seeds at all and only a few extra tomato seedlings sprouting from the compost!

Using this recipe, I had quite a bit of germination success.  I also found that when planting tiny seeds all I needed to do was put the seeds on the surface and then use a kitchen sieve to just cover the seeds with mixture.  Germination was a lot better than poking the seeds into the mixture with my fingers as I had done in previous years.

So, happy Spring planting to all in the Northern Hemisphere, and if it is not too cold, happy Autumn planting in the Southern Hemisphere.  Happy planting where ever you may be. I just love the feeling of dirt between my fingers, what ever season it may be!


The Younger Rachael said...

buying soil, seedling soil and all such things makes gardening just too expensive for me. I do a lot of "making do" with what I have and buying the cheapest stuff I can find. Seems to be working so far!

Thanks for this mix recipe, maybe I'll have even better germination/growing results next time around with it. I'd like that!

Laura @ Getting There said...

Very interesting Gavin, thanks for this. :)

Gavin said...

@ Rachael.

It is so cheap that it is free. I bartered all the ingredients or composted them myself!

@ Laura.

No problem, happy to share


Linda Woodrow said...

Hi Gav, a good alternative to the sheep manure is old, dry cow pats, run over with a mower with a catcher on. You fill the catcher with finely shredded cow poo. It doesn't seem to have weed seeds, it holds moisture really well, and if it is old and dry it doesn't have any nutrients to speak of.

sawn61 said...

I have a compost tumbler. That would be a great way to germinate and
kill all the weed seeds before hand. I don't use mine much, but just
might after reading your post on making your own mix. Normally,I'd
rather use my chickens for turning my compost, since I use so much.
Then I seive it into my wheel barrow and cart it to where ever it's
needed. I looovvvve making compost.