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5 Best Seed Starting Mix for Fast-Growing & Healthy Seed

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Winter may still hold our gardens in its icy grip, but spring is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to start planning your garden. There are decisions to be made: what kinds of flowers will you plant and what types of veggies will you grow in your veggie patch.

We all have different types of gardens or ways of growing plants. Some people live in suburbia and have a good amount of backyard space in which to plant their flowers and veggies. City dwellers might have access to market gardens where they can have their own little veggie patch. Urban gardeners who live in an apartment with only a small balcony will grow their colorful foliage and cultivate fresh veggies in pots.

Wherever you live and however you choose to garden, a seed starting mix will give your flowers and veggies the best start to life, and ultimately reward you with your own piece of horticultural heaven.

Our pick

Abundant Living Deluxe Gardening Gift Set

THE BEST SEED STARTING MIX

Abundant Living Deluxe Gardening Gift Set

This handy little pack is the ideal starter kit for new and veteran gardeners. As well as the 14 different seeds, gardening book, and a bag of seeding power, there are themed coloring cards for the kids, so that you can encourage them to explore the joys of gardening.

What is a Seed Starting Mix?

A seed starting mix, which can also be called “seed starting soil,” helps a seed to germinate into a seedling and then into a full grown plant. Some people also like to purchase seedlings from their local nursery, but this is not always the best choice as the seedling may have picked up containments or other plant diseases.

By growing your plants from a seed, you can control the process from seed to plant to plate. It can be fun, especially for kids, to wait eagerly, and then be filled with delight when the first leaves begin to appear, and then the full flower blooms or the veggies start to grow.

Soil-less

A soil-less seed mix means that the mix does not contain any field or ordinary garden soil. Regular field or garden soil can contain diseases and contaminants, which can be especially harmful to vulnerable seeds and seedlings.

Sterilization

You might come across the word “sterilize” in relation to seed starting mix or even potting mix, which means the manufacturer has used a heating process to kill off any bacteria or fungi or mold that can restrict the growth of your seeds and plants.

Some gardeners may choose to make their own mix, but sterilization will make sure that your seed grows into a strong and healthy plant.

Potting Mix vs Seed Starting Mix

Potting mix is probably the most well-known type of gardening product for planting flowers and veggies. Potting mix is great for repotting plants, but it may not be ideal for planting seeds or seedlings as it can be too rich. Also, it has a coarser texture and does not drain very well. Good drainage is necessary for a seed to germinate and grow into a budding plant. But in its favor, the potting mix contains fertilizer, so from seed to plant, the potting mix will feed your flowers or veggies the nutrients they need.

A seed starting mix is the preferred option as opposed to potting mix for those gardeners who prefer to plant seed, not seedlings or cuttings. It is more desirable for three reasons:

  1. It has a superior germination process.
  2. The mix is usually more lightweight than potting mix.
  3. It absorbs water easily and allows for plenty of air circulation, which is very important for the seed to be able to grow and develop into a plant.

The main difference between potting mixture and seed starting mix is that seed mix usually does not contain any fertilizer. The seed provides the necessary nutrients for the budding plant, so it does not need fertilizer. Once the plant starts to sprout leaves, you can start to add a fertilizer for ongoing nutrients.

One thing to keep in mind in regards to fertilizer is that some seed /potting mixes contain just enough fertilizer, like Diatomaceous Earth, that will provide seeds with sufficient nutrients to last up to three months or until they are grown into baby plants, while other brands may not add any nutrients. Think of it this way - a seed starting mix kickstarts the seed into accelerated growth mode.

How to Choose the Best Seed Starting Mix

Lightweight and Hydrated Mix

For your seed to grow into a healthy seedling, the best seeding mix is a lightweight and well-drained soil that has a balanced mixture of organic materials like vermiculite or perlite. The soil mix should also have excellent aeration and water retention properties so that the seed's root can push through and have room to grow.

Some companies use an organic wetting agent to provide extra hydration like a Yucca extract, which is taken from a root vegetable to help stop the soil from drying out.

Sphagnum Peat Moss

Most seed mixes contain sphagnum peat moss, which is lightweight and highly absorbent and it helps to retain moisture for your seeds. Products that use peat moss are especially beneficial for when you are gardening in dry weather or when you forget to water your plants. The downside to using peat moss is that it can be difficult to moisten.

Perlite

Perlite looks a bit like Styrofoam, small white pieces of natural volcanic mineral that can also help to provide adequate aeration and water retention to the soilless mix. It also prevents the soil from compacting and helps it to drain faster. It can also be used to cover the seeds and help them to maintain a consistent moisture level as they germinate.

Vermiculite

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral, which is found in a lot of potting mixes and can be especially helpful for planting seeds. It keeps the soil nice and moist so that the seeds or seedlings do not dry out, and it can also save you from having to continually water the seeds.

Coconut Coir Fiber

Coconut coir fiber can be used as a substitute for sphagnum peat moss, and it is used for a wide range of horticultural and agricultural uses. It can absorb and hold up to 8+ times its own weight in water. Many manufacturers offer their coconut coir in bricks, so you can just break off a piece when you need it and rehydrate it in a bucket of water.

Diatomaceous Earth

Some manufacturers use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) as their seed starting mix, which acts like a natural, non-toxic fertilizer that will kill any insects from affecting the germination of seeds or seedlings. DE is a naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary mineral that is made from tiny fossilized algae-like plants called diatoms. The diatoms are ground up to a fine powder that looks similar to talcum powder.

DE is composed of many minerals such as magnesium, silicon, calcium, sodium, iron, and other trace minerals: titanium, boron, manganese, copper and zirconium. Diatomaceous Earth can also help to eliminate any harmful bacteria or toxins from attacking your seeds and plants.

Organic

Organic food or products are rising in popularity. Many people are going “green” and they want their food to be free from harmful chemical additives, synthetic fertilizers, and insecticides. Environmentally friendly products are an important choice as well.

Many companies are responding to this shift and making products that they claim are organic, and may of them are, but just because the product says it is “organic” does not mean it is certified organic. So read the fine print or contact the company to make sure that the product is properly rated as an organic product or it contains organic ingredients or materials.

PH Soil Levels

The pH level is the measurement of the acidity ("sourness") versus the alkalinity ("sweetness") of soil. If you live in an area that has low rainfall, your soil will be more alkaline. If there is a higher level of rainfall the soil ph levels are more acidic, which is due to the rain washing away minerals like calcium from the soil.

Plants grow best when the soil is slightly acidic between 5.5 to 6.5. If you live in an area that has a lot of rainfall look for a soil mix that has magnesium and calcium added to the mix, or a mix that has a ph level of 5.6 to 5.9.

Some manufacturers use Natural Dolomite Lime, which helps to reduce soil acidity and is a good source of magnesium and calcium, which are essential plant nutrients. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) powder can also put back some of the minerals that have been washed away by excessive rain, while also helping to stimulate seed germination.

Reviews of 5 Best Seed Starting Mix

1. Black Gold 1311002 Seedling Mix

Black Gold

You will feel like you have stuck gold when you use the Black Gold seedling mix as it provides the right foundation to promote healthy root growth for seeds and newly germinated seedlings.

Black Gold is soil-less and it is listed as a certified OMRI organic product with a mix of lightweight, non-clumping, natural forming enriched organic matter that requires less watering over the long term.

This seeding product is fast-acting and within a week you will see your seeds spring to life. The mix contains 70-80% Canadian sphagnum peat moss, and a Yucca extract, an organic wetting agent that is taken from a root vegetable to help stop the soil from drying out. All of these materials will give your seeds the aeration, moisture retention they need to grow up into strong, healthy plants.

Black Gold comes in a 16-Quart bag and can be used for germinating seeds indoors under fluorescent lights or in pots on your patio. The mix can be dusty when dry, so thoroughly moisten it before using.

What we like:

  • Ideal for seed and seedlings
  • Good value for money
  • Lightweight mix
  • 100% organic
  • Works quickly

What we don't like:

  • Mix is very dry straight out of the bag

2. Espoma SS8 8-Quart Organic Seed Starter Mix

Espoma Organic Seed Starter

Whether you are planting herbs, tomatoes, or re-potting your favorite flower, this organic seed starter from Espoma will have your garden blooming. With a rich, premium blend of natural ingredients, it is specially formulated for seed cuttings, but it also works well on newly planted seeds.

The Espoma mix contains sphagnum peat moss, peat humus, perlite, and it is enhanced with My-tone, a blend of mycorrhizae, which is a form of fungus that helps to promote root growth and improves moisture retention. In no time at all your seeds will grow and become strong, healthy and vibrant plants. The mix is available in an 8-quart bag, which has a zip-lock to keep any air or moisture out.

What we like:

  • Good quality
  • Organic certified
  • Perfect for flower pots and a small herb garden
  • Good germination rate
  • Absorbs water and drains well
  • Handy zip-lock bag

What we don't like:

  • Small bag
  • Contains a lot of debris

3. Abundant Living Deluxe Gardening Gift Set

Abundant Living Deluxe Gardening Gift Set

This deluxe starter kit from Abundant Living is ideal for the no mess, no fuss gardener or as a gift for your kids to encourage them to develop an interest in horticulture. The kit includes everything you need to grow your own organic veggies, which will be free from nasty chemical pesticides or genetic modifications.

As well as the included 14 varieties of Heirloom vegetable seeds, there are beautiful garden themed coloring cards for the kids, a planning booklet with handy tips and information about gardening, and a large bag of Diatomaceous earth powder.

Once the seeds are planted the kids will want to monitor the plant's progress, so the included 24 Jiffy Peat Pots lets them keep on the plant as it develops and grows in the safety of the indoors before it is ready to be transplanted to the garden.

The kit also includes one set of latex gloves and kitchen shears. Each gift set that is purchased helps to support the Hope Center for Women, Inc.

What we like:

  • Very good quality
  • All-in-one gardening starter pack
  • Beyond Organic gardening book
  • Large collection of seeds
  • Organic and Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO
  • Good size bag of Diatomaceous earth powder
  • Great gift idea

What we don't like:

  • Expensive

4. Hoffman 30103 Seed Starter Soil Mix

Hoffman Seed Starter

Hoffman has been creating high-quality gardening products for the passionate home gardener since 1934, and the Hoffman seed starter soil mix will have your flowers and veggie patch flourishing quickly.

The soil mix contains six premium components such as Canadian sphagnum peat moss, all of which are specifically blended to promote superior germination of seeds. You can also use the soil for transplanting and encouraging root cuttings.

As you soon as you open the bag, you are greeted with a rich garden smell and the soil has a good ph level that ranges from 5.6 to 5.9. The soil also has a relatively fine consistency and it absorbs water easily and allows for plenty of air circulation, which is important for seeds to become healthy and strong plants.

The soil comes in a 10-quart pack that has a handy ziplock to keep the soil safe from any moisture or air contaminants. If you would like a complete list of the ingredients in this mix, you can contact the supplier @[email protected]

What we like:

  • Ideal for seeds and cuttings
  • Very good quality
  • Premium soil mix
  • High water absorption rate
  • Allows for good air circulation
  • Good seed germination
  • Zip-lock bag

What we don't like:

  • Some seeds are slow to germinate

5. Triumph Plant Coconut Coir Fiber Bricks

Triumph Plant Coconut Coir Fiber Bricks

Triumph Plant is one of the most trusted brands of seed starters soil mixes. The pure coconut coir fiber comes in a brick, and as the fiber is 100% organic, biodegradable, Ph neutral, and disease resistant, with no odor, pests or weeds, it will give your vegetables and flowers their best chance to grow and flourish.

Triumph use carbon-rich coconut coir that is environmentally friendly, and is a natural and sustainable alternative to peat moss. Coconut coir is more effective at hydrating the soil and releasing life-giving nutrients and moisture to seeds and plant's roots.

The coir fiber comes in 230-gram bricks and when you mix it with water it turns into a light fluffy mixture. It can be used for a wide range of gardening purposes: seed germination, Hydroponics, cultivating mushrooms, worm farms, and landscaping corrosion control. The bricks are easy to use, just add 50-60 ounces of warm water to each block. Wait 10 minutes. Stir. Sit back and relax and watch your seeds spring to life. You can also mix the coir in with others soils, but it works very well by itself.

The mix can be stored for long periods, but make sure the packet is well sealed to stop mildew.

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • High-quality coconut coir fiber
  • 100% organic and environmentally friendly
  • Can be used with or without soil
  • Good hydration
  • Very effective
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use bricks

What we don't like:

  • Bricks are very small
  • No zip-lock bag

Our pick

Abundant Living Deluxe Gardening Gift Set

THE BEST SEED STARTING MIX

Abundant Living Deluxe Gardening Gift Set

This handy little pack is the ideal starter kit for new and veteran gardeners. As well as the 14 different seeds, gardening book, and a bag of seeding power, there are themed coloring cards for the kids, so that you can encourage them to explore the joys of gardening.

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