Garden

DIY Seed Starting Mix

How many of you like to save money when you can? I think I can safely say just about everyone is happy to save a few pennies here and there. Well what if I told you you could save more than a few pennies by making your own seed starting mix. You can mix up your own for less than half of the price of the name brand stuff. Really? Absolutely! You only need a few ingredients and they can all be found in any of the big box garden centers. Ready to get your hands dirty?

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Here is the ratio for a basic seed starting mix:

  • 3 parts Peat Moss (3 cu ft bale $10)
  • 1 part Vermiculite (8 qt bag $4)
  • 1 part Perlite (8 qt bag $5)
  • ½ cup Garden Lime per cubic foot of peat moss used(6# bag $6)
  • 1 part Compost *optional* (40# bag $3)

I used a five gallon bucket to measure my ingredients, 3 buckets of sifted peat, and 1 each of pearlite, vermiculite and sifted compost. I measured that all out on to a large tarp then mixed it by hand. That amount will store well in a 32 gallon trash can.

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*A quick word on the compost. The next batch I make will probably not contain any compost. Why you ask? Adding compost to the mix runs the risk of introducing unwanted oggy boogy microbes and such that can harm tender seedlings. I minimized the risk by heating the compost in the microwave. Here are the guidelines I followed to sanitize the compost. If you are super concerned feel free to just leave it out of the mix completely. Also, seeds have a lot of energy stored in them and don’t necessarily need any fertilizer {i.e. compost} till they are a little older. In the future I would mix a granular fertilizer in but only for plants that will be in pots or flats for a long time, like peppers and tomatoes.

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Would you like to see the math?

I only used half of the bale of peat moss ($5) and two 8 quart bags each of the pearlite ($10) and vermiculite ($8), the whole 40# bag of compost ($3) and ¾ cup of garden lime (approximately $0.50) This comes out to just $26.50! It doesn’t quite fill the 32 gallon trash can so to be fair lets say that its about 27 gallons of mix, or 110 quarts. Still with me? Good!

Drum roll please…

8 quarts of commercial mix = $4.77 or .59 per quart

110 quarts DIY mix= $26.50 or .24 per quart

So if you are starting a whole garden full of vegetables and flowers why not save big and mix your own?

*All of my prices are based off the lowest prices I could find in my area in the spring of 2016. Your local prices may be higher or lower than mine.*

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15 thoughts on “DIY Seed Starting Mix

  1. I just planted seeds with your mom yesterday and learned about the Vermiculite. It was fun and I got to collect eggs from the chickens or girls as I call them twice. It was fun I miss doing it.

  2. Hi there, found your post on Simple Sat blog Hop- can’t wait to share! I love this soil mix.
    I have found vermiculite hard to find sometimes so I have replaced it with coconut husk when I need to and works great as a replacement.

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