Spaghnum Peat question


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Hi all, I'm on my second round of seedlings in my 72 cell seedling tray.. both from the same bag of spaghnum peat moss. The first time, I watered well and the soil just wouldn't dry out no matter what I did (yet somehow had a pretty good growth rate). The second time around, I watered once with a spray bottle from the top and then have attempted watering from the bottom. But the soil seems very dry and has caked up pretty bad. I know peat moss holds water very well, but can be tough to water once it dries out.

My question is, do any of you all have any tricks to keeping a proper moisture level in your peat moss (especially from a bag that's been opened already)? Or do you have any other mediums you like and use to grow your flower seedlings?

Thanks!
 
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I never use peat but if you will make the water deeper and water longer from the bottom up you will have a lot better luck.
 
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Spaghnum Peat moss is disaster. The particles are too small and they are not hydroscopic. I now use only cocoanut coir. Always water by placing the pots in a container with water- watering from the bottom.

http://www.durgan.org/URL/?UFJVP 8 September 2009 Peat moss and Coconut fibre comparison.
When using peat moss, usually the product is added to the medium straight from the bag. Experience has indicated that it does not mix well when water is added. There will be many dry pockets in the mixed medium. Peat moss a few years ago use to be more coarse in structure. Now the product is processed in a slurry and dried then bagged. This process destroys the old coarse structure. The peat moss is not readily hygroscopic. Its use has been discontinued in my garden area.

I have found coconut fibre to be ideal for my home potting mix.It has an adequate structure, and is hygroscopic, which is a desired feature.

8%20september%202009%20peat%20moss%20019_std.jpg
 
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Thanks for the response. Guess my next batch won't have any peat moss!

How does the cocofiber drain without much air circulation? Do you still use a fan occasionally to help? And does it seem to grow white fungus on the top quite easily?

The peat was awful at drying out and caking but it was equally as bad at not draining and holding water (probably due to me soaking it too long from the bottom in a vain attempt to thoroughly water it)

Thanks for helping a newbie out!
 
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I make my own soil drainage is always sufficient.



http://durgan.org/2016/September%202016/2%20September%202016%20Seedling%20soil/HTML/ 2 September 2016 Seedling soil
I produce my own seedling soil for starting seeds and for ongoing growing in some cases. Ingredients are coconut mulch which is superior to the moss now produced, some manure compost, some mushroom discard, some marsh black soil, and some mason sand. Quantities are subjective and in this case are about 200 liters total produced. Compost 160 liters, 20 liters of mason sand, about 30 liters of expanded coconut mulch. The product is stored in the small greenhouse.
dsc_27322%20september%202016%20seedling%20soil_std.jpg
 
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http://durgan.org/2016/April 2016/24 April 2016 Seedlings/HTML 24 April 2016 Seedlings
A variety of seeding are purchased when small from local suppliers and replanted in separate containers to obtain a robust root system before planting in the outdoor garden. The plants will be placed outdoors daily weather permitting to condition to outdoor conditions until planting time in about 10 days. Requirement is for about 8 of each type for my needs. The type purchased were 8 of each, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, celery, collards, kale, Romaine lettuce. They were placed in a plastic cup with bottom side drain holes, a coffee filter to cover the holes to prevent soil falling out. The plants are placed in a reservoir container for bottom watering. They will be ready to transplant in the outdoor garden in 10 to 14 days, weather permitting.
dsc_938124%20april%202016%20seedlings_std.jpg
 
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Thanks again Durgan those are great pictures and ideas.

And hopefully my last question, I noticed all of your trays had water sitting in the bottom. I've seen some videos/sites that say you should leave water in the tray for 20-30 minutes so the soil soaks up the water but doesn't sit in it, then drain the water. Whereas others have said to leave the pots, cups or seed cell trays in a small bit of standing water. I would think leaving them in water would oversoak the soil?
 
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I sometimes use peat pellets if i want the seeds to germinate in a hurry (because i have procrastinated to start the seeds). I purchase trays of 12 dried, flattened, peat moss held together with a thin netting material. After putting a specified amount of water in the tray, the pellets plump right up and 1 seed per pellet can be planted, usually the next day. There is a clear plastic top that fits over the tray to hold in the moisture, i start the seeds outside on the patio table and keep them covered until the seeds germinate. They remain damp and i don't water them again. If it looks like they are too damp because of the condensation, i'll take the lid off for a little while. I don't plant all of my seeds in the trays just a couple of each seed i am planting to make up for lost time. I have had 100% germination starting seeds this way. When i don't use the trays i mix peat with humus from earthworms and sand and plant 3 seeds per pot, dampen thoroughly, enclose the small pots in zip lock plastic bags to keep the moisture in (3 starter pots per baggie) and set outside on the patio table until they germinate. I have had good luck with this method in my very toasty climate. I also use seeds from seed sellers that i know well, all who grow their own seeds, or seeds i have grown myself. So i buy good seeds and that contributes greatly to my very nice germination rates. I grow a lot from seeds that are famous for being difficult and temperamental. I had 5 monk fruit seeds (which the seed seller described as being cranky germinators). I got 5 healthy seedlings (100%) in half the time the seller predicted. I grew them for a friend in a neighboring state and sent him the young plants. I have the advantage of a toasty February with long warm days and warm nights and create a humidity for the seeds and that combination plus good seeds is a winner for me 95% of the time. Some times the seeds are so anxious and ready to grow they come up in two days. It is not uncommon. I'm not sure where you are located (i.e. climate). So you may have to make adjustments for your particular climate.
 
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Thanks again Durgan those are great pictures and ideas.

And hopefully my last question, I noticed all of your trays had water sitting in the bottom. I've seen some videos/sites that say you should leave water in the tray for 20-30 minutes so the soil soaks up the water but doesn't sit in it, then drain the water. Whereas others have said to leave the pots, cups or seed cell trays in a small bit of standing water. I would think leaving them in water would oversoak the soil?

The pots are not left in the water. After soaking for about an hour or so. they are taken out and allowed to drain. This is done about every four or five days.
 
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Thanks again everyone.

Beverly I'm in Naples, FL so probably a similar climate to you. 83 for a high today!
 

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