Gardening Soil If you’re planning to start gardening plants from seed indoors, one way to nearly guarantee that you’ll kill all of your seedlings is to use gardening soil (from your garden or from a bag at a garden center) in your plastic cells or biodegradable pots. Why? Unless you have unusually light and loamy soil, the soil from your garden is too heavy and will soon compact down into an impenetrable brick inside tiny seed starting containers. Potting Mix If you use potting mix, you’re likely to find chunks of organic matter like aged “bark fines” that act like tiny sponges to help the mix retain moisture. This is great for large potted plants, but not great for small seed cells and tiny seeds trying to germinate or pop up through the soil surface. (*There are some potting mixes that are made to be used both as potting mixes and seed starting mixes (as you’ll see below), so be sure to read the labels carefully!) Seed Starting Mix As its name implies, seed starting mix is made specifically for seed starting. It’s very light and fine-grained to promote root growth and ensure that the mix doesn’t compact in small seed starting cells/containers. This is why it’s important to either make your own DIY seed starting mix OR buy a good organic seed starting mix. Next, we’ll help you do whichever option you prefer, whether you go the DIY route or the store bought route.
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