On February 4, I planted several “test” seeds to start and see which does the best. I planted:
1. Winter sowing method in regular organic potting soil (tomatoes and artichokes)
2. Grow light in seed start mix (tomatoes and artichokes)
3. Grow light in regular organic potting soil (artichoke) *I didn’t take specific pictures of the artichokes in different soils for this update. Just pictures of the results of the different lighting.
4. Regular light (near a window) in seed start mix (tomatoes and artichokes)
5. Regular light (near a window) in regular organic potting soil (artichoke)
So far the results are as follows: Everything has sprouted inside with the exception of one artichoke (under the grow light). The plants under the grow light are shorter and the tomatoes especially are stockier while the plants near the window in regular light are longer and more spindly and bent a bit towards the window. Obviously they are reaching to get to the light, which I am pretty sure will lead to less stable plants as they continue to grow. I expected this. What I did not expect was the other result – the plants germinated equally as well in the regular organic potting soil as in the specialty seed mix. In fact, they may be a little sturdier and bigger although I haven’t taken any pictures of that yet, as the difference is very minimal. The plants in the milk jugs outside using the winter sowing method have not surfaced yet. They are smart and are biding their time.
The take away so far:
It seems to be a waste to plant in specialty seed starting mix. The regular high quality potting soil works at least as well, if not better. Plus, it already has nutrients the plants will need to grow, while the seed starting mix is overall pretty devoid of nutrients for the long haul and those little guys will have to be fertilized and re-potted sooner rather than later.
It also appears so far that the plants under the grow light are experiencing less stress to reach the light and are happier because of it. The grow light plants are much shorter and the stems are noticeably thicker.
I will keep you updated as the experiments progress. Most of my seedlings have been started. I planted a few additional plants to have for my garden as well though they are not part of the experiment. My soil is now workable in the back (south facing ) yard, though it is still pretty wet. I really want to put some snap peas out there and some leafy greens, but I know I would be asking for trouble and they would probably just rot. Still a bit too cold and wet. Cilantro seems to grow best in quite cool weather though, so I may risk a handful in a pot on the patio 🙂