Rambo January 3, 2017 0

Q:

Any recommendation for a brand of good proven potting soil for starting  seeds. I’d prefer a light mixture and sterilized.

A:

There are two schools of thought on soils for starting seeds. Sterile can help assure that the young plants get off to a good start without disease, fungus or pathogen. Unfortunately though, sterile is a condition that’s impossible to sustain. The other route is to start in soil that is rich with beneficial fungus and bacteria. The idea is that the beneficial organisms will colonize the soil and prevent any of the bad guys from getting a foothold. Additionally, nitrogen fixing microbes can be used to enhance soil fertility while safeguarding the soil against harmful bacterial growth.

I am not a microbiologist but the major players in this process are well understood and documented.

Common Bad Fungus: Verticillium, pythium
Bad Bacteria: Too numerous to list

Good Fungus: Trichoderma (invasive), Bacillus Subtilis (found in Serenade spray), bacillus thuringiensis, mycorrhizae fungus particularity Glomus intraradices
Good Bacteria: Some strains of Streptomyces, Azospirillum brasilense (nitrogen fixing)

A good soil is alive and teeming with biology both macro and micro. Healthy soil is hard to find in bags because it can takes years to cultivate. Compost tea is a great product for introducing beneficial soil microorganisms into our growing medium.

My answer to your question:

Soil:

Pro-Mix HP, Pro-MIx HP +microbes, Happy Frog, Ocean Forest

Any premium potting soil that is available in your area and does not contain too much added fertilizer. Choose a soil that’s finely sifted and does not contain a lot of bark or shredded wood. Buy soils from a garden shop that stores their pallets indoors. Do not buy bagged soil that has been setting outdoors getting weathered.

Soil Alternates:

Rapid rooters, Rockwool, Oasis,

These are normally used to starting clones but these soil alternatives also work great for germinating seeds.

If you seeds are very high value, meaning you don’t have many or they were very expensive germinate the seeds before planting. Cover your seeds in moist paper towel or similar medium and allow them just enough time to crack their shell. Remove and plant before the roots emerge and become too delicate to handle. Tap water or distilled water can be used. Microbial products can be added to the water to inoculate the seed, use as directed.

After seeds are germinated plant them into soil or growing medium using delicate gloved hands, chopsticks or tweezers.

If your seeds are plentiful and or you are starting a great number of them I like to use 50 cell divided planters or an appropriate number of 6-packs to fill a standard “no-hole” garden tray. Plant the seeds in the soil and keep warm and moist but not waterlogged.

Cannibals is a very special plant but does not require any special conditions or treatment to thrive, there is no “Right way” to grow it.

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