[Music] It’s that time of year again: seed sowing time! I don’t know about you, but sowing the first seeds of the
growing season is incredibly exciting. Think about all that fresh, tasty homegrown produce to come! Now, if you’re going to sow into containers like these,
you’ll of course need some seed starting mix, and a good mix – well it can cost. Unless, that is, you make your own,
which is what we’re going to do in this video. The perfect seed starting mix mustn’t be too high
in nutrients, which could harm delicate seedlings. The mix should also hold on to
moisture without becoming soggy. Overly wet conditions can rot seeds and
encourage fungal diseases such as damping off. Here’s a very simple recipe. It’s a soilless recipe, so it’s
beautifully light and fluffy. All the ingredients are natural too, promoting
good strong growth and healthy happy seedlings. Begin with two parts compost as your base. All parts are measured by volume, so it doesn’t matter
what you use to measure your ingredients, so long as you’re consistent. The compost adds
slowly released nutrients to the mix which will help to feed seedlings as they grow. You can use your own garden compost, or buy some in. Break up clumps with your hands, or better still,
screen or sieve the compost to get a fine even texture. Now add two parts coir, or coconut fiber. Coir is extracted from coconut husks, making it a
sustainable, plentiful alternative to peat or peat moss. Extracting peat can damage fragile ecosystems and it contributes to climate change, so we like to avoid using it. If your coir has come in a block, rehydrate it first by soaking it in a bucket with
water until you can easily break it apart. If you prefer, you could substitute
well rotted leaf mold in place of the coir. The coir or leaf mold contributes bulk to the
seed mix, and it’s great for moisture retention. Finally, add one part perlite, which will
both lighten the mix and improve its air content. If you prefer not to use perlite then you could
substitute sand, though it will give a heavier mixture. Use a spade or your hands to mix all of
the ingredients together. Take your time and be thorough. You want a consistent mix with all of the ingredients evenly distributed. Once you’re done, store the seed starter
mix in either a lidded container or in an old potting soil sack (or any other plastic
sack) with the top rolled down and tightly secured. Store your mix in a dry, cool place. Moisten your seed sowing mix a little bit before using it. You want it to be damp but not sodden. You can use your mix for sowing into plug
trays, plastic pots, seed trays or flats like this, or indeed any container
suitable for seed sowing. Gently press down your seed starting mix as you fill
your container, and take particular care to properly fill at the corners. Top up with more mix if required. Don’t worry, this mix isn’t easily compressed, so
don’t be too shy about firming it down so there’s enough mix for roots to explore. Sow your seeds according to the package instructions, then water. Watering requires some care –
you don’t want to blast the mix out of the container, so use a mister, a watering can fitted with
a very fine rose, or make a watering bottle like this. To make one, pierce holes into the cap of a plastic bottle
using a pin. Fill with water, screw the cap back on, and you’re good to go. Once the seedlings have germinated,
it’s best to water from below. Sit your containers in shallow trays of water for a few
minutes until you can see the surface of the mix is moist. Remove containers from the water once you’re done so
excess water can drain away. Many seedlings need potting on into larger containers at
least once before it’s time to plant them out. Most will be happy in the same seed starting mix, but for hungrier seedlings like tomatoes and brassicas,
well, they’ll appreciate something a little bit richer. Adding some worm compost to the mix like this
gives it the nutritional boost we’re after. Try this potting mix
for plants to be grown on in larger containers. Thoroughly combine two parts garden compost
with one part coir or, better still, leaf mold. Now add some perlite for drainage – about 2-3 generous handfuls to every 10 gallons (40 liters) of the coir compost mix. A similar amount of worm compost
can also be added for hungry plants, or incorporate a slow-release organic fertilizer
according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Plants grown in the same container for a long time need a potting mix that holds its structure
and is buffered against nutrient imbalances. Loam, or good quality garden, soil offers this. Simply combine one part loam or screened or sieved
garden soil with one part garden compost, then add some slow-release organic fertilizer. And that’s it! A versatile potting soil
for many fruit trees, bushes and perennial vegetables. Making your own seed and potting mixes
like this will save you a lot of money. But perhaps most appealing of all is that
these recipes can be tweaked for what you’re growing. Of course, there are lots of
seed starting and potting mixes out there, so if you’ve got one that works for you
why not tell us about it in the comments section below. Don’t forget, we’re also uploading new gardening videos all the time – a visual feast of ideas and helpful advice! So make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss out. I’ll catch you next time. [Music]