Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Seedling Soil Mixture

We're off to a good start. So far this year we've planned the gardens (Jan. 26 blog), researched seed purchases (Jan. 27 blog), warmed up our seedling heat mat (Feb. 1 blog) and assembled our lighted plant stands (Feb. 14 blog).

Today let's think about creating a soil mixture suitable for planting seeds. It's much cheaper to make your own soil mixture rather than buy bags prepared at the garden center. At Red Bucket Farm, our approach is simple. We create a soil light enough for seeds to emerge using compost, peat moss, and perlite or vermiculite.

If you haven't started composting yet, you can purchase finished compost at any garden store. But remember that you can begin composting in the winter by mixing a combination of green and brown ingredients in a plastic tub in your basement or garage. (See my May 6, 2011 blog post for more details on composting.)

For many years I've purchased peat moss from the garden center. Recently, though, I've become concerned about depleting our peat bogs. Coir--coconut husk fiber and peat--is a more readily renewable option. It's sold in dense blocks and requires simple hydration. Perlite and vermiculite are also available at garden centers.

Using a hand scoop, dump approximately equal amounts of compost, peat/coir and vermiculite/perlite into a bucket and stir, keeping the mixture light and loose. Distribute seeds over the soil mixture and stir very gently to just barely cover the seeds with soil. Then mist with water from a spray bottle, and/or water from beneath using a drip tray. It's important to keep the seeds moist enough to germinate but not soggy enough to rot. I check my seeds twice a day to maintain proper moisture levels. It's not difficult, but you must be attentive.

The snow is melting and spring is approaching. It's not too late to start your seeds indoors---vegetables, herbs and flowers all benefit from an early start. What are you planting?

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