I am excited to start vegetables from seed this winter/spring. I was wondering if a seed starting mix exists or can be made that uses neither peat moss nor coir? Coir seems like a great, sustainable alternative to peat moss, other than the distance from which is must be shipped in order to reach our coconut-free city of Toronto. Can a mix be made without these materials? Any help here would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for your time,
Thanks for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with this interesting question. It is important to reduce the use of peat moss. Peat is very important for wildlife, forests and moderating the climate. Destroying peat bogs does contribute to climate change. Although it is true that coir is shipped from faraway places such as Sri Lanka, it is considered to be a preferable alternative because it is a waste product.
While you can create optimal soil in your garden using high quality compost, manure and leaf mold, seedlings have different needs. Peat moss and coir are added to seedling mixes to moderate moisture level while the seeds are germinating. Heavier soils may become waterlogged and cause the seeds to rot. Homemade mixes for seedlings are not ideal because they might harbour diseases or random seeds.
There is one product in England for seedlings made of wool waste and bracken. Although currently it is not shipped to Canada, perhaps it will be in the future. In the meanwhile, using relatively small amounts of seedling mix with coir may be your best option.
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