My standard method of starting seeds has been to use soil blocks – a molded block of soil with no container to keep it together. I have excellent results with them, but they tend to be rather fragile and require extra care to make sure they don’t fall apart. In addition, the process of making them is a bit more labor-intensive – not a lot, but it’s enough to cause planting to be put off until a larger block of time is available.
Yesterday, I planted a tray of 50 seeds using 2″ cube seed pots (Note that although the product is great, their delivery time is very slow). Unlike so many seed starting containers, these are a heavy duty plastic that should last for many years with decent care. Fifty of them fit perfectly in a standard 1020 (10″ x 20″) seedling tray.
After filling and compressing the soil into the seed pots, I soaked the soil well. After an hour to let the moisture work its way through the soil, I used the end of a Sharpie marker to push a small indentation into the soil in each pot. The seeds were added (one per pot – I try to avoid multi-seed planting), and then covered with some medium Vermiculite, then lightly watered again.
This batch included 20 Bell Peppers (California Wonder), 20 Egg Plant (Black Beauty), and 10 Squash (Early Prolific Straight Neck). As I usually do, I drew up a diagram of the seeds in the tray so they would not get mixed up. Popsicle sticks mark the borders between different seed types. The trays are now setting on the seed heating pad and covered with a clear plastic top to retain moisture, so I should see green in the next few days. As soon as they begin to sprout, the tray will be moved under the lights.
Like much of what I do here, this is an experiment. I mixed a small handful of organic fertilizer in with a 5 gallon bucket of ordinary potting soil. There was nothing precise about this – my goal was to have a quick and easy way to plant the seeds. This was an experiment of necessity, since this should have been done at least a month ago.