Learning to grow from seed is an essential skill in the path of personal freedom & food sovereignty.
The right seedling mix really does make all the difference. With the wrong mix - especially one that is too dense or heavy - will result in poor germination and will probably leave you discouraged and feeling like a 'black thumb' in the garden.
The right seedling mix is light and fluffy and penetrable and has enough nutrients to support a growing plant. You see, baby seeds do not need any nutrition to germinate - they need light & moisture - but your seedling mix needs enough fertility to support your plant as a seedling/sapling.
In nature's beautiful design the seed has is own inner ability to germinate with just light & water. This explains how we can sprout seeds & nuts & grains just by keeping them moist.
Once germinated, the roots are very fragile and lack the innate strength to push into dense soil. We make it easy on our little seeds by keeping the mix light and fluffy. The mix also needs to DRAIN. To much water on young roots will cause them to rot and we don't want a seedling mix that doesn't support drainage (ie dense clay).
For this same reason, we want to sift all the components of our mix to remove stones and break up stuck-together clumps so our tender roots don't meet any obstacles as they push down.
So with these principles in mind, let's get to some ratios.
Depending on what you have access to, we suggest one of the following mixes:
1/3 sifted compost, 1/3 sifted garden soil (no matter the current quality of your soil) and 1/3 cocopeat (which is shredded coconut easily found across the tropics, subtropics and probably beyond.) To this we add a bit of perilite, a volcanic stone that is very light, airy and porous and keeps your whole mix light and penetrable.
1/3 sifted compost, 1/3 sifted garden soil and 1/3 sifted sand. If you live near a stream or river, you will have good access to mineral rich sand. Dry it, sift it and use it. It ensures good drainage to your mix. To this you can also add a couple handfuls of perilite to keep the whole mix loose.
These two mixes are unbeatable and work every time. Give your seeds the very best shot possible.
To really ensure a good germination rate, keep your seedings away from cold drafty winds at night and put them in a place that is decently warm, ie greenhouse, cold frame or even the window sill of a sunny window (but that doesn't get too cold at night either! Maybe it is one with nice heavy drapes.)
Other best practices are, of course, to choose heirloom seeds from a reputable farmer or ethical seed company and to make sure that once your seedlings are big enough to move into the garden beds, you 'harden them off' by exposing them to direct sun and wind for a couple days to a week before planting out.
These same seedling mixes work wonderfully as general potting mix too.
Most important next step, START YOUR COMPOST PILE IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY! This ensures the necessary supply of fertility to your seeds and takes care of all your household's food waste.
Happy gardening dearest friends! Lots and lots of love.