February 2012
In This Issue
February Garden Tasks
Seed Starting Mix
Quick Links
Dear Reader,
Yes, it is finally getting close to gardening season.  February is the month to start seeds inside and even try some of the hardier varieties outside (see garden tasks).  In this months article, I look at what constitutes good seed starting mix.  There are a lot of choices out there but not all of tRoland in the gardenhem are the right ones.We have had strange weather in Colorado with months of wind gusting over 120 mph.  Combine that with a recent heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures and the house we are building at our mountain site is taking its time.  Usually, by late February, I would be working the beds in the greenhouses and planting some of those outside. However, the greenhouses need extensive renovation and the ground is rock solid.I just purchased a bunch of floating row cover to protect my seedlings from frost and pest attack when they finally start growing.  This is one of the best investments for all gardeners, particularly those in the North.Below is a coupon for 10% off all your Bountea purchases during March.  I hope it will help you create the most amazing bountiful garden this year.Roland Evans
Organic Bountea

February/March Garden Tasks
(February 15th – March 15th)February is a good time to organize and start planting seeds indoors:

  • Organize your seeds from last year and order what you need.
  • Buy enough seeds for fall planting.
  • Purchase or make your own planting mix (see below)
  • Continue to plant annual and perennial flowers in outdoor containers.
  • Dig out the propagation trays and pots and start sowing indoors.

Seeds indoors: fava beans, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, celeriac, cardoons, kale, leeks, lettuces (if not direct seeded, to be set out April 1). If you have a greenhouse or protected garden, try plant Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and basil indoors for an early crop.

Trees: prune fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs, but especially apple and crabapple trees.

Pest Prevention: Plan to rotate crops over 3 or 4 years — Roots, Legumes, Brassicas, Others.  Flea beetles lay eggs in the soil where you last planted brassicas (mustard, cabbage). A different flea beetle attacks the nightshade (tomato, pepper, potato) family.


Bountea Compost Tea:
  Build up the soil for spring with Bountea
, M3 and Root Web.  Use SuperStart when planting or transplanting seeds.


Seed Starting Mix

You have decided to plant seeds indoors.  In the stores you find different bags of commercial
soil-less seed starting mix.  The labels list such ingredients as peat-moss, sphagnum moss, coconut coir, vermiculite and perlite.  Some have added minerals, fertilizer and wetting agents or hydrogels.  How do you choose?  What are the best ingredients?  How do you make your own?
Let start from the basics.  All a seed needs to germinate is a consistent balance of warmth, moisture and air.  Any medium that provides that environment will promote germination – a damp paper towel, warm soil, compost or a soil-less starting mix.
Soil-less Mixes
Commercial mixes use non-soil ingredients because they are easily available, clean to handle, remain moist and drain well.  Of the common bulk ingredients, peat-moss (sphagnum moss) is mined from non-renewable peat bogs.  It tends to resist wetting and dries fast so other ingredients are always added.  The alternative, coconut coir is increasingly popular.  It comes from renewable sources and wets more easily.  However, unless it is processed well, it may contain excess salts and lock-up essential minerals.  Look for salt-free buffered coir in the mix.
  • Vermiculite is a heat treated mica-type mineral that helps retain moisture.
  • Perlite is a white popped volcanic ash that lightens the mix and creates good drainage.
  • Minerals and fertilizers: these are needed by the seedling as it starts to develop.  Choose good quality organic nutrients and not quick-acting chemicals.
  • Wetting agents or hydrogels are manufactured polyacrylamide gels that expand and hold water.  While deemed “safe”, these gels may contain or breakdown into a neurotoxin and carcinogen called acrylamide.  My recommendation: DO NOT use a seed mix with wetting agents for starting vegetables and do not add wetting agents to your vegetable garden soil.

Make Your Own Seed Mix

It is not usually recommended to use garden soil for seed starting; it may contain disease spores that cause damping off or other problems.  However, biodynamic gardeners do use a mix of their best top soil and well-aged compost. 

Traditional home-made seed mix recipes consist mainly of peat moss, compost and sand, often with additional worm-castings or minerals.Humisoil

My own adaptation is:

  • 4 parts buffered coir
  • 2 parts Alaska Humisoil
  • 1 part washed sand
  • Dash of SuperStart for Plants and/or Marine Mineral Magic

Put through a 1/4″ screen and mix well in a 20 gallon tote.  I always experience fast germination, no diseases and exceptional seedling growth.  Try it for yourself!  ________________________________________


Organic Bountea
[email protected]  800-798-0765