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How to prepare soil and substrate for growing seedlings


In early spring, many summer residents begin to grow seedlings. But the experienced knowledge and understanding of plant agricultural technology is far from all the requirements for obtaining high-quality planting material, one of the most important aspects is preparation of soil and substrate for growing seedlings.

How to prepare the substrate for seedlings correctly? What needs to be considered in the process, and what to exclude? We decided to tell you about this and much more today, during that period, which is considered to be the peak of activation of country bustle.

At the moment, a specialized summer cottage and horticultural market offers us for the purchase of hundreds of varieties of soil and substrates for growing seedlings. Seedling soil or soil mixture is a mixture of certain organic components (crushed bark, peat, earth and so on) with a small part of inorganic inclusions. Seedling is a substitute for the fertile layer - perlite, sawdust, sand, mineral wool and more.

Is it worth buying soil and substrate for seedlings

This is not the most unexpected question, since most of us do not prepare soil mixtures for growing seedlings, but rather they get them ready-made. This is right, because it is easier to buy a mixture for the requirements of plants than to create it yourself without experience.

But here it is worth considering which mixture to give preference to, and which manufacturer to pay attention to, because the assortment of goods includes hundreds of units, and its producers are dozens.

In our opinion, you can use soil and substrate only if you are completely confident in the quality, if not, it is better to prepare the mixture for planting seedlings with your own hands!

What are the requirements for seedlings

On sale you can find quite a variety of offers, for example, soil for growing seedlings of tomatoes or cucumbers, for flowers and others. It is on such products that one should pay attention, read the contents and instructions, find out how much the components meet the requirements of the cultivated culture. We do not recommend buying universal mixtures, since very often they do not meet the stated requirements of plant agricultural technology.

In addition to separation by plants, any soil purchased must meet a number of requirements:

  • It should be fresh, clean, loose, with good air exchange. All components should be selected so that during storage the mixture is not pressed, does not form a tight crust. Clay bases, which negatively affect the properties of the soil and make any mixture unsuitable for growing crops, should be excluded from the mixture;
  • It must be balanced, with the correct content of organic matter and minerals, meet the requirements for fertility. It is worthwhile to take a closer look, because the purchased material is often “empty”, without the proper amount of useful elements, but self-made - often with an overabundance of organic matter (many summer residents think that the more the better, although this is not so);
  • You cannot grow high-quality planting material on completely sterile or contaminated soil. Therefore, it is worthwhile to understand that a quality mixture without fail contains useful flora, but it does not contain pathogenic microorganisms, weed seeds, spores of fungi, worms, larvae and insect eggs, etc.
  • You cannot prepare mixtures from soil taken in contaminated areas - near a motorway, chemical plant, sewage treatment plant, and so on. Any toxic components in the form of oil products, radionuclides and salts of heavy metals will not bring the properties of the mixture and cultivated plants anything good;
  • Cooking should not cause strong reactions and decomposition, high temperatures, which can adversely affect the development of plants. Decomposition leads to the destruction of the soil structure, and an increase in temperature to + 28 + 30 ° C leads to the death of seeds, the death of roots;
  • It is advisable to prepare a mixture of medium acidity, close to neutral indicators. 6.5-6.7 pH - the optimal value for a quality mixture;
  • Do not forget about the micro and macro elements that are necessary for each plant.

Suitable and unsuitable organic components for soil preparation

Among the commercially available components are mixtures that are suitable for a quality mixture, and which are not advisable to use. Let's get acquainted with them.

Suitable Organic Ingredients

It is worthwhile to carefully study and remember this list: lowland peat after weathering and freezing, horse and transitional peat, turfy land after heat treatment, sandstone and sandstone meadow, sawdust of coniferous trees and many deciduous moss, sphagnum moss, needles, crushed peanut shell and coniferous bark, husk cereals.

Organic Ingredients That Cannot Be Used

Do not use the following components for preparing soil for seedlings: hay and straw dust, sawdust of painted wood, fine shavings of any wood species, turfy land without treatment, humus, leafy land and composts, low-lying peat not processed.

Inorganic components for soil preparation

Inorganic components are also used for the mixture, and therefore a few lines about them.

Suitable components

They are well suited and do not affect the cultivation negatively: packaging foam, crushed pumice and expanded clay, vermiculite and perlite, quartz, bottom and river sand.

Unsuitable components

The following components are not recommended: dirty, unwashed river sand, quarry sand contaminated with clay.

Seedling Examples

Experts say that the composition should include a maximum of components, about 7-10, but is that so? Not always, because from several components high-quality mixtures are obtained. Let’s look at some of them as an example and decide which ones are suitable for growing a variety of seedlings for summer cottages.

So, we look at the composition on a bundle of the purchased mixture and see the classic version - turf land, chicken droppings, peat and compost. Full of nutrients, but is it suitable for us? According to the previous version, it can be said that no, since such a mixture is intended for growing already adult seedlings for harvesting.

Now the next option is seedlings from several types of peat, vermiculite and sand, or the next - lowland and high peat, sand, in a ratio of 1: 1: 2. This option is a porous and fairly loose mixture in which the root system of any plant will develop well. It is worth paying attention to acidity, which can be changed by regulators - ground limestone, marl or chalk.

The classic “recipe”

We also propose to consider the option of the simplest soil for seedlings, which has been used by millions of summer residents for decades, and, interestingly, gives excellent results. You don’t even have to pay for such a mixture, because you can find the necessary components in your own cottage.

Only two components - 60-70% of sawdust and 30-40% of sand. The result - a quality mixture for seedlings! Interestingly, sawdust can always be replaced with husked sunflower seeds or cereal.

A few more recipes for classic seedling substrate

We will indicate the components of the mixtures in percentage terms, since this will be most correct. The number of components will need to be measured not by weight but by volume. In addition, we immediately note that the presented components do not contain nutrients, and therefore it will be necessary to additionally use organic and mineral additives, acidity regulators.

So, recipes for seedlings for cooking with your own hands:

  • 20% styrofoma, 30% perlite, 10% sand and 40% coniferous bark;
  • 40% perlite, 40% crushed pine bark and 20% river sand;
  • 60% of river sand (fine fraction) and 40% of cereal husk (any).

High-quality and inexpensive seedling substrate

In our concept, a quality substrate is a mixture suitable for plants, inexpensive and practical, which will be used only for the benefit of plants. But you need to cook it only if you have studied and understood the process !!!

We want to note that the preparation often requires an assessment of the components. Some of us turn to specialists to find out the content, others try to use the "grandfather" methods, and do everything ourselves. But all this is effective only when done correctly. Therefore, we recommend evaluating the soil and components before mixing in order to obtain high quality.

For example, it is recommended to add a little sand to the purchased mixture, as well as adjust the additives according to the content. Read the instructions and be sure to read the list of components, because many (as we said earlier) are not suitable for growing seedlings.

Pay extreme attention to potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. If the packaging of the purchased mixture indicates that the content of the elements is about 300-400 mg / l, then it is impossible to grow seedlings in it initially, but it is possible as a component for preparing the mixture for expelled seedlings. If the content of the elements is even higher, it is strictly forbidden to germinate seeds in such soil, because in this case you will not get normal development, but only the growth of greenery “like by yeast,” and most importantly, to the detriment of the ovary, flowering, and other things necessary for the crop processes.

Not suitable for sowing seeds for seedlings and land from the garden. It is not balanced, it has a pathogenic flora, weed seeds, toxins and other components that we do not need in the composition.

From the options for purchased mixtures, you can choose the soil for cacti. It is most balanced for growing seeds in seedlings, has a low content of basic mineral elements, has good friability and is disinfected. Therefore, after planting seeds in such soil, only the correct agricultural technology of plants, and everything will be fine!

We advise you to closely monitor the process and correctly evaluate any outcome. Did you mix the soil incorrectly and get weak seedlings? It doesn’t matter, next time take the recipe more seriously, normalize acidity, reduce the amount of additives. By independently adjusting the content and quality of the soil, you will quickly come to the right recipe!

Soil for seedlings (video)

Seedlings and seedlings You can always buy at a specialized outlet. But it is always more interesting to come to a positive result yourself. However, everyone has their own opinion, and cooking or buying is up to you. In this regard, we are pleased to listen to your opinion in the comments to the article.