Sowing seeds and watching them shrivel as soon as they sprout is not a pleasant experience to endure . . . at least not for a plant lover! We ponder upon the accidental, sad demise of the 'to-be-plant'. "What caused it?", you ask. The pesticides, pathogens may be! Well, the answer may lie in the roots, literally. The soil you used from your garden to sow the seeds is to be blamed. There might be some problem with the soil type . . . you never know. It is advisable to use a potting mix and drop the soil content from it. This is called the soilless potting mix.
Why Not to Use Soil
This must be your quandary at this very moment, I bet! Well, I don't blame you if this question germinates in your mind. The fact is, that there could be a possibility of the soil being problematic in a few respects. Plant disease, weeds such as water grass, bacteria and pests could target your garden, and contaminate the soil.
There is also a tendency of the garden soil being extremely heavy due to the water content. We are in the opinion that if we provide lots of water for the plants to seep in, the growth rate would be rapid, right! Wrong. We are supposed to water plants on a daily basis, but anything in excess invites disaster. Excess of water does not help the freshly germinated seed in any positive way. The soil in your garden then begins to feel heavy and look clumped up.
Constituents of Soilless Potting Mix
A perfect soilless potting mix recipe could be formulated by adding the required ingredients in the right proportion. The most important ingredient that a soilless mix contains is the sphagnum peat. Sphagnum peat is supposed to be an indispensable portion in the mix. It is light in weight and drainage of water is not a problem. This does not mean that it does not hold any water. It does hold water but only the required quantity. If you are making your own, you may like to include bark traces - an agent that takes care of the drainage factor.
You may also go ahead and use coir which controls drainage well but does have the retention capacity to deliver. The functionality is parallel to that of peat. Perlite is a component that could be added to create a balancing act between the drainage and retention levels. Vermiculite is an ingredient known for its water retention capacity. Before adding it, the vermiculite needs to be heated so that it expands and its capacity to hold water increases. Vermiculite particles can hold water and minerals in the mix till the plant does not become completely receptive to them.
Make Your Own Soilless Potting Mix
- A basic soilless potting mix will consist of a major part of sphagnum peat moss with equal amount of vermiculite and perlite to complete the mixture.
- A basic compost mix will consist of compost and sphagnum peat in equal amounts and the vermiculite - perlite addition of the same measure.
- You could add some nutrients that provide calcium and magnesium and keeps the pH balance (which should be around 5.8) in check. Inclusion of soybean powder and bone meal to the mix adds nitrogen and phosphorous content to the mix.
Brands You Could Bank Upon
Espoma Organic Potting Mix - It is an organic food potting mix appropriate for potted plants. The use of this mix promotes water retention and growth of the plant. It consists of sphagnum peat moss, dolomitic lime and perlite. An apt potting mix for container gardening.
Sun Gro Sunshine Organic Blend Professional Potting Mix - This potting mix is recommended for potted plants, vegetable plants and bedding plants. It consists of Sphagnum moss, coir, dolomitic lime, perlite and gypsum and certain agents that help in retaining an adequate amount of water.
Sun Gro Sunshine Mix #4 Aggregate Plus Professional Growing Mix - This mix is for plants that require a good drainage system, for plants that are highly sensitive to salt and plants that require a heavy leaching system at hand. It consists of sphagnum peat moss as its main ingredient, dolomitic lime and perlite, and moisture locking agents.
Premier Pro-Mix BX with Bio - Fungicide Professional General Purpose Growing Medium - Basilus subtilis is a fungicide that prevents root diseases. The germination process is improved and the probability of the plant surviving rises. It does not cause any negative reaction with the plants if pesticides are added. The superior quality mix is light weight and improves plant growth.
Fafard Lightweight Mix 2 Soilless Growing Medium - This mix is suitable for seeds, flower plants, bedding plants and hanging flower basket plants. It provides excellent drainage ability to the plants and its ingredients include sphagnum peat moss, horticulture vermiculite and perlite.
Sun Gro Metro Mix 360 with Coir Soilless Growing Medium - This mix is suitable for a variety of plants that require a lot of water. Thus, the moisture locking system needs to be strong enough. It contains sphagnum peat moss, perlite, bark ash, dolomitic lime, and solid formulation of moisture holding agents.
So, with these brands at hand, you are sure to have your plants safe and sound. You also get to see your seed go beyond the germination stage. Thanks to the soilless potting mix, you can now have plants swaying to the tunes of the winds with nature holding their roots!