I did unadulterated, unchanged SFG in 2008, my first year back into gardening after many years of being sidelined after a car accident.
(Well, I *had* taken care of the roses and made sure the blackberries didn't take over everything, but that was about it. And, since making compost is a major trash-reducer at my house, that continued as well.)
Even then, I didn't start any seeds in the "Mel's Mix" as he recommends it. I started seeds in a 50/50 mix of potting soil and my own compost. Then, when the seedlings were of decent size--I planted 2 or 3 seeds in each small (3-inch or so) pot--I transplanted them into the SFG.
It may be that the Mel's Mix doesn't provide enough nutrition for seeds; I really don't know. Vermiculite is there to provide aeration and good drainage; peat is there for acidity and, again, aeration. The multiple composts provide the nutrition. But I wonder whether the pore spaces mightn't be too large for seeds to feel well seated and firmed into the "soil." Maybe they get washed down too deeply to be warmed for sprouting?
In any case, the few seeds I did plant directly into the SFG (root veggies: carrots, beets) were planted very shallowly, right on top of the planting medium, and covered with the 50/50 mix, then patted down with my hand so they wouldn't blow away. I'd say I covered them with about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of planting medium.
The major change I've made for myself w/regard to SFG is that Mel's "6 inches deep is enough" recommendation absolutely does not work for me: 10 to 12" is much more like it, and more if I can wangle it, esp. for carrots!
And definitely become familiar with Sunset's Western Garden Book
, your Sunset climate zone, and what that means in terms of planting times, growing season(s), etc.: your whole approach to gardening will change!
(Ask me how I know, or Search the Forum to find out...I've told the story a few times.)
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
I was away from the house for 3 hours
this afternoon, and my patient, Vergil (or is that my patient Vergil
) was just fine. Maybe I can work half-days next week at the office...assuming there's work for me!