AnimalBabe
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Seed Starting Mix, Peat Pots, or Regular Potting Soil?

I am starting some flower seeds and roma tomato seeds indoors and was wondering if there is a difference between "seed starting formula" and just using miracle grow potting soil. Do I have to buy something that says its just for starting seeds?

I know, that's probably a very basic question! I'm so new to gardening. I bought some cells with the potting soil already in there that expanded with water, and it has a dome. The flower seeds in there sprouted no problem already.

However, I potted the tomatoes and extra flower seeds in peat pots with regular potting soil and I haven't seen a thing yet. I noticed the soil is so dry each morning so I keep watering, maybe that's the difference? Please advise.

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SPierce
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I guess it really depends on the type of soil - I don't buy the seed starting mix or the peat pots/starter pods, and just instead buy my regular container soil mix and start my seeds in that. it's done really well for me so far, and this is my third year.

What kind of soil exactly is it that you bought and are having trouble sprouting the seeds in ? The miracle gro ? How far down did you put the seeds? you may want to push the soil around with your fingers a bit to see if there's some sprouted seeds hiding underneath the top layer of soil! Sometimes they can't always push through the heavier soils to the surface. most times they do, but a little xtra help won't hurt

The one thing you have to keep a huge eye on is the peat pots- they actually suck a lot of water and moisture away from the plants, which is why you may be noticing that those are dryer than the seed starting dome. If you can, switch away from the peat pots, and give it another try?

wet wise, are you putting you finger into the soil to see if it needs water, or just going by the surface being dry?

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rainbowgardener
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Good advice below. Seed starting mix is sterile formula without nutrients. The seed provides the nutrient for the baby plant when it is just starting, so it doesn't need fertilizer. However, that only lasts until when the plant has true leaves. At that point you either need to change it to potting soil with miracle grow or or start fertilizing. That always seemed like a hassle to me. So I start all my seeds in M-G potting soil. Though at the beginning they don't need the fertilizer, it doesn't seem to harm them.

As was pointed out, the peat pots are very difficult to use--either too wet and holding too much moisture in or too dry and sucking moisture away from your plants. Regular plastic pots, even plastic drink cups with drainage holes added work a lot better. And if you use the humidity dome, be sure you take it off after the seeds have sprouted. The humid/ no air circulation environment in there is very bad for seedlings.

Also how warm is it where they are. Tomatoes are warm weather crops and they like their soil above 70 degrees to sprout, better 75. If that's not true, you might look for ways to warm it up...
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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gixxerific
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I "try" to use seed starting mix when starting seeds. But I start a lot fo seeds and that get costly. So I will mix in regular potting soil, composted manure etc to bulk it up. After they have their true leaves they will get a good mix of potting soils, compost etc.

I use a mix of Dr Earth and Pro-Mix BX for potting soil. Of cousre as said it never stays with just that, I mix in whatever comes in handy at the time.

Good luck

AnimalBabe
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Location: Northern Virginia

thanks guys! I am using Miracle Gro potting soil for the ones that weren't doing anything yet, and those seed starting pods for the rest. I just noticed though that yesterday a few are finally starting to sprout up. I think I may have pushed them down too much. You're right about the peat pots..they do not hold in moisture! I will not use them again. Question--why do people like to use seed starter if you have to fertilize later or move them to miracle gro eventually anyway? Just curious. Is it just b/c they retain moisture better?

Also, can you please recommend a good place to get decently priced grow lights (lights and fixture)? I'm new to this and didn't see them in Home Depot, unless I missed them. Thanks so much!!

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rainbowgardener
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What Mg said re the fluorescent tubes etc, only I leave mine on 16 hrs a day.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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