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Mels Mix for Seedlings

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Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  jimmy cee on 2/24/2015, 6:58 am

Last seasons seed starting results using M.M was ok, I plan on doing it again this year.
Everything now is out in the piles and frozen solid.
I have vermiculite and peat moss  stored in a shed.
I'll need to bring some compost in to thaw out before mixing.
Any suggestions on how to proceed using M.M as a seed start ?

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  sanderson on 2/24/2015, 12:09 pm

Jimmy, what is your question? You liked it last year. I use MM for seedlings, but I don't have the cold weather like many so it is overwintered in a 33 gallon rolling garbage can, waiting for spring seeding. I also have extra 1/4" screened compost in case I need to make more or fill another flower pot!

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/24/2015, 12:14 pm

Hi Jimmy,

For seed starting, I use MM that I dig out of my SFG beds in the fall and store in the garage. Matter of fact, it's on my to do list to bring that bucket into the house today to warm up. Then I just use it like regular potting soil. Stick it in the cells, put the seeds in, water. Since my MM is used, I also spritz it with hydrogen peroxide after watering to keep the new sprouts from tamping off. Don't know if it really works but I haven't had an issue with tamping off yet.

My compost is under about 6 ft of snow right now but once I can see it again, I'd love to be able to spread it around right away. How will you dig out your frozen compost?

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  jimmy cee on 2/24/2015, 3:22 pm

@sanderson wrote:Jimmy,  what is your question?  You liked it last year.  I use MM for seedlings, but I don't have the cold weather like many so it is overwintered in a 33 gallon rolling garbage can, waiting for spring seeding.  I also have extra 1/4" screened compost in case I need to make more or fill another flower pot!

I just thought there might be something I was missing it starting with M.M.
I like the fact that I have it and it's basically free, I know exactly what is included, etc.
I looked at ingredients of seed starting mixes and not overly impressed.
I did start some last season in fine vermiculite, however, I do not like  handling the ultra delicate seedlings.

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  littlesapphire on 2/24/2015, 4:21 pm

I've tried starting seeds in MM, and I'm not totally happy with the results.  I like Mel's method much better in ANSFG; he starts his seeds in straight up vermiculite, and then uppots them into (I think, someone correct me if I'm wrong) containers of MM.  I tried that method last year, and it worked wonders.  No damping off at all, and the plants actually seemed to enjoy the extra handling. 

That said, I totally forgot to get some MM out of  my garden in the fall, and now it's frozen solid and under four feet of snow, so I'm going to have to use potting soil instead Sad

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  llama momma on 2/24/2015, 6:26 pm

Ok littlesapphire you have changed my mind.
I will try Mel's vermiculite method because of your results and reading more on seed starting.  It seems some claim the seed starter mix needs to be sterile, others say nah.  Mel's mix would not be a sterile medium.  Yet I want to give seeds the best chance possible.
I like your results using Mel's vermiculite method, sounds good to me and I happen to have some fine vermiculite on hand.  This will be a good way to use some of it.

The transplants later on go into Mels Mix indoors or out in the garden.  In the first edition of ANSFG, the topic begins on page 122-124.

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  plantoid on 2/24/2015, 6:31 pm

You can also do a hash  of both versions
  1/2 fill a small plant pot with MM and top off with fine vermiculite then sow the seed  in the top of the vermiculite , sprinkle a bit of fine vermiculite over the sown seed so you don't disturb whats there and cause the seed to drop down deeper .

 Stand the sown pot in 1/2" of water for an hour or so and then stand it on a saucer plate /tray etc.  The MM will take up water and pass it into the vermiculite via capillary action .
The vermiculite will retain an almost set level of moisture that will germinate the seeds in no time .

Let the seeds grow , so the roots get down into the Mm and then  transplant when its a nice big easy to handle viable plant .

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  llama momma on 2/24/2015, 6:47 pm

I like that too Plantoid.  It eliminates one transplant step.
So It sounds to me like initial germination is excellent in vermiculite.  Then the roots can successfully go right down into Mel's Mix.  My burning question is do you think you had excellent results with a high percentage of seedlings?

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  jimmy cee on 2/24/2015, 9:48 pm

@plantoid wrote:You can also do a hash  of both versions
  1/2 fill a small plant pot with MM and top off with fine vermiculite then sow the seed  in the top of the vermiculite , sprinkle a bit of fine vermiculite over the sown seed so you don't disturb whats there and cause the seed to drop down deeper .

 Stand the sown pot in 1/2" of water for an hour or so and then stand it on a saucer plate /tray etc.  The MM will take up water and pass it into the vermiculite via capillary action .
The vermiculite will retain an almost set level of moisture that will germinate the seeds in no time .

Let the seeds grow , so the roots get down into the Mm and then  transplant when its a nice big easy to handle viable plant .

I like that idea, will do both and report back

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  littlesapphire on 2/24/2015, 9:51 pm

Plantoid, cool idea.  I may have to try that with a few plants just to see how well it works.  I think I'll continue doing it Mel's way for most of my plants though Smile

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  sanderson on 2/25/2015, 1:19 am

Last year I tried a couple of small 2" trays of medium vermiculite and it worked fine. Fine, unless I didn't take the seedlings out before all the roots got tangled. I think I may try it again Feb 2016.

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  Kelejan on 2/25/2015, 1:24 am

I like Plantoid's idea; I am going to give it a try.

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  plantoid on 2/25/2015, 6:35 am

@llama momma wrote:I like that too Plantoid.  It eliminates one transplant step.
So It sounds to me like initial germination is excellent in vermiculite.  Then the roots can successfully go right down into Mel's Mix.  My burning question is do you think you had excellent results with a high percentage of seedlings?
I didn't keep a written or photographic record but seem to recall every one of my grow tubes that I sowed with this idea it worked for all seeds sown .

 What I actually did thinking about it was 3/4 fill with MM  press it down slightly , make an indent with a fat pencil then filled the indent with fine vermiculite and add about 1/4 " (6 mm ) more then sowed the seed on top then covered it in a fine vermiculite covering .

 I kind of took this idea a bit further after buying by post some tiny 1/2" ( 12 mm ) high tender plug plants from a commercial nursery , I noticed the seed cutting compost in each small  conical cup of the plug tray  had a tiny plug of vermiculite or perlite  where the plant was growing .

 I already knew that having vermiculite as the starting  medium gave a very consistant light moisture directly in the top layer and a fraction of an inch above it, providing the trays were kept in a non draughty place.
Where as the use of sieved MM or a commercial seed medium tended to be a bit too damp  for a lot of seeds. Plus it was likely to be much colder due to a higher evaporation rate , I came to that conclusion after I did some tests using my micro digital  weighing scales over a few weeks. On two identical volume pots that were treated exactly the same  ... the MM lost the most weight as it had evaporated quicker therefore I concluded that the surface temp must be cooler as well .

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/25/2015, 8:52 am

I like this idea, too. In older SFG book & vids, Mel puts an indent in the soil at each seed planting spot and fills it with vermiculite for seeding in the garden. Same idea.

I don't have any fine vermiculite but could probably chop some course up in the blender...?

CC

Snowed here again overnight:

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/25/2015, 9:33 am

I know you're tired of it, CC, but it sure looks pretty in that pic!

And you've got sunshine!!!!

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  littlesapphire on 2/25/2015, 1:32 pm

CC, I bet putting it in a blender or food processor would work.  I've been known to put even weirder stuff through my blender Smile  

Pretty picture, by the way!  We got a bunch of snow last night too, really light and fluffy stuff, probably another 6 inches.  It actually gives me hope that our weather's getting better, because for a while now it's been too cold to snow, or when it did snow, it was that terrible sugary stuff that's heavy as can be.  At least I know it's starting to warm up some in our area!

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  sanderson on 2/25/2015, 1:50 pm

I had to go out and try something with my coarse Vermiculite. It is so light weight and fragile that you can crumble it easily in some other manner. Like gently rolling graham crackers in a plastic bag. A blender may make powder before you know it.

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  plantoid on 2/25/2015, 3:41 pm

A blender tends to make a lot of  dust that you nee to sieve out .. Guess how I know ?  Embarassed
 
Try rubbing the coarser granules over a 1/10 inch ( 2.5 mm ) square meshed  stainless steel garden sieve with the sieve set in the top of a bucket to catch the grade .

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  jimmy cee on 2/25/2015, 8:28 pm

Using a mortar and pestle, one can grind as fine as needed.

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  mapspringer on 2/26/2015, 8:53 am

I must say that I've had no problems at all with starting seeds in MM.  For two years straight I've taken MM out of a SFG and used it directly as starter mix.  The plants that grew in it at last harvest were disease-free and healthy, so I feel like the chance of my starts getting a soil-borne disease is pretty slim. What is life without risks?!

Several reasons I like using MM-
1) It works great in my Johnny's 4-block soil maker (favorite tool of all-time!)
2) It has all the nutrients the starts need, no fertilizing and
3) The blocks are so easy to up-pot or direct plant into the garden

It's almost that time!  Bring on spring!

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  plantoid on 2/26/2015, 12:24 pm

Taking it out a bed means it's seasoned and a much gentler in the amounts of nutrients than newly made MM , that would explain why so far you've not had any problems . That's not to say it is the best way , for you may have unwanted fungi etc start growing from air borne spores or insect egg s startin g to hatch.

Having the starter medium  as clean or even no sterile as you can helps prevent that tremendously  especially if the bed's MM mix is prone to holding damping off moulds.etc.

Damping of moulds
This seems  ( but not always )  to be a bit of a  problem from having too much old rotting wood products used when making your initial MM or in subsequent home made composts with a lot of wood in it. .

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My seed starting mix...Mel's Mix

Post  jimmy cee on 1/23/2016, 3:05 pm

Last season I did all my seeds with MM.Now I am doing the same and will stay with it..
Here is my description
I am not cooking my compost, straight from the pile, just strained.

fine vermiculite


peat moss from the bag..I strain it for seed starting
 
strainer & container


peat moss in the strainer to be strained


compost to be strained

material that was strained..back to the compost with it.

screened compost ready to mix

vermiculite, peat moss, compost ready to be watered

watered mix, (I prefer filtered water)

ready to add seeds

added seeds, ready to sprout

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/24/2016, 3:12 pm

Nice! When do you start, Jimmy?

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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

Post  jimmy cee on 1/24/2016, 10:05 pm

Yesterday Sat, 23rd.
I've decided to go forth, my only real cost is seeds and lighting.
Since I don't pay for the electric, ( house does ) and seeds are already paid I am scott free.
I was going to do this in the fall, however to many things cropped up.
May if some do nicely, I'll just up pot them.
Just placed one of a kind into the cups to see what happens.
Like playing in the garden....well almost
I'll surely have pics as things progress or regress.

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seedlings made in Mel's Mix

Post  jimmy cee on 4/9/2016, 10:18 pm

With fine vermiculite, peat moss strained and MY compost strained..here is my second batch of plants, much to early for the cukes, think I'll just compost them and start over...
Doing some flowers for butterfly's. had seeds in fridge for a couple of months.
Also trying some red bud tree seeds, that may take some doing.
I have lots of seeds and lots of compost so I will be seeding all year...










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Re: Mels Mix for Seedlings

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