Saturday, March 7, 2015

Making Soil and Starting Seeds

Hello Fellow Homesteaders!

I have been busy playing in the dirt this week! I am so excited for gardening season and even sleepless nights with a newborn can't stop me! I found a mini-greenhouse on clearance at the end of last season and it is perfect for starting seeds in! I have tried the grow lights and putting seeds in the window in the past. Both were OK, but I still got a lot of leggy seedlings. So I am hoping that this method works great this year. 

In the interest of trying to save some money, I decided to try making my own soil this year. Both for potting soil and for starting my seeds. I found numerous different recipes online. After checking to see what the store had in stock, I chose peat and vermiculite to use with my compost. But, of course, my compost was still frozen! So I had to buy that too. *Note to self: put a few buckets of compost in the garage for use next year.* Thankfully the compost at the store only cost $1.61 and it says its organic. I still like using my own better, but this will do in a pinch.

Then we have some peat moss. This giant bag cost $7.97.

Last, but not least, we have vermiculite that cost a whopping $14.99 for this bag!

My first batch, using my handy-dandy re-purposed measuring cup, I just used equal parts of compost,

peat moss,

and vermiculite.

Then I mixed them together while adding water. The peat and vermiculite are sold dry so they need to be moistened before use. Trust me on this. If you don't wet it before putting it into pots, you will quickly find out why it needs to be pre-moistened. This stuff is thirsty but it absorbs slowly. As you pour the water on, most of it pools at the bottom of the container and you have to mix and mix and mix until it's all soaked up. It took me 2-3 gallons of water to moisten this amount.

Tada! You have potting soil!

 Time to put it to use!

Ah yes, the infamous Gardener's Manicure.

No sense in not looking good while we play in the dirt, so I also have my Gardener's Bling goin' on!

Here I am starting some tasty Roma tomatoes.

The back of seed packets give you a wealth of information. I'm currently checking to see how deep the seeds need to be planted. (It's a wonder anything grows in nature as I'm sure wildlife isn't out there doing the same thing. lol) They need to be planted at 1/4 inch depth.

To make it go a bit faster, I place the seeds on top of the soil, then top them off with 1/4 inch worth of soil. I am sure to label all my plants. I made the mistake of not doing that one year. A lot of seedlings look the same and that caused a bit of heart ache. I also want to point out, the writing on these will wear off quickly in the weather, so they are not good garden markers unless you coat them with some sort of clear lacquer or something like that.

You can use all sorts of things to start seeds in. I save my seedling pots (above) and re-use those until they fall apart. Here I have some yogurt cups that I poked holes in for drainage.

I also use paper egg cartons.

I have also used toilet paper rolls and newspaper rolled into seed pots. The nice thing about using paper products is that you can plant the pot and all into the ground instead of having to delicately removed the plant from the pot.

So, is making your own soil cost effective? $1.61 + $7.97 + $14.99 = $24.57 The type of soil I have bought in the past was $8.98 for 2 cubic feet. I have made 4 bags' worth out of the supplies I had. One of those bags with my own compost. I still have enough vermiculite for one more bag and enough peat for at least 3 more bags. So, lets say I get 5 solid bags out of it all. 5 x $8.98 = $44.90 - $24.57 = $20.33. Plus I have quite a bit of peat left for the next round of ingredients. So I'd say it's about half price to make your own soil. That is definitely worth it! Not to mention I know what's in it and where it comes from.

So far I have started 2 kinds of tomatoes, 4 kinds of peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, thyme, and parsley. Have you started seeds yet? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy gardening!

Jen Hen

This post shared on Idlewild Alaska's Homestead Blog Hop 23 and Lone Star Farmstead: Farm Blog Hop


  1. I'm going to start my garden this week and the seeds too.

    1. It's wonderful the season is here!

  2. I love that you cut costs by making your own soil! I'm also super jealous of your seed starting greenhouse! I'm gonna have to keep an eye out for sales this fall :) Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop!

    1. Thanks! Of course now that I have this green house, I have been seeing one just like it, but twice as deep. lol!


Thank you for following! I'd love to hear from you!

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. Any opinions are my own and are not necessarily shared with the authors of the links I provide. All pictures without an attached link for credit are my own. Because I post pictures of my family from time to time and need to protect their safety, permission is required before using any of my personal pictures. My personal opinions, writings, and quirky sense of humor are not meant to defame, purge, humiliate, and or injure anyone should they decide to act upon or reuse any information provided by me. Any comments made below are the sole responsibility of the independent reader that left them. I will not tolerate any hateful, profane, or generally hurtful comments on any of my posts. Please be polite with your disagreements.

I am not an expert on anything I write about, so consult a professional before attempting to repeat anything I have done or written about. I am not responsible for any damage, injury, death, monetary loss, or other loss that may incur with use of my blog. All my posts are meant to be an invitation to join me on my homesteading journey and perhaps help someone along the way. You, the reader, have an obligation to exercise common sense, further research, personal discretion, and professional consultation before following any of my suggestions or recommendations. All of my opinions are my own, whether I have been paid to give it or not.

With that said, I hope you have an excellent homesteading journey!