Why Use Soilless Mixes?

outlook_c13_bannerWhile the soil in your garden may look great and may even produce some healthy plants, it’s most likely not your best option for starting plants or growing things in containers. Ideally you want to use a soilless media, such as Organic Seed Starting Jiffy-Mix. Soilless mixes provide several advantages over soil and will give a developing plant the boost it needs.

Jiffy seed starting mixes are distinguished by a balanced water/air ratio. Planted seedlings have fine roots that can easily penetrate through the starter mix without difficulty. This allows faster and stronger growth resulting in higher yields. Jiffy provides a superior consistent mix with finely tuned fiber lengths, water holding capacity, physical structure, and nutrient charge. The uniform, consistent blends assure potting and planting success year after year.
 
So what makes up the mix? Most mixes are made up predominantly of sphagnum peat moss. Sphagnum peat is lightweight and, in certain areas, renewable. Additionally, it drains well, yet is water retentive, like a sponge. It also will not crust and is weed free.
 
A further attribute of peat is its acidic side. Most seed starting mixes have a soil pH around 5.8, which is fine for starting most seeds. Jiffy mixes are designed for the special pH and nutrient needs of today’s new seed and plant varieties.
There are several other components traditionally added to mixes including:

  • Bark: Bark is added to improve drainage and air space within the mix. This means it will also decrease the water retention slightly. Bark mixes are better for use with mature plants that need to dry between waterings than for starting seeds.
  • Coir: Coir is a coconut fiber by-product and works similar to peat in providing good drainage while also retaining water. It’s often used as a substitute in areas where peat is hard to come by. Soils for containers need to be well aerated and well drained while still being able to retain enough moisture for plant growth.
  • Perlite: Perlite is that stuff that looks like “pebbly” Styrofoam. It’s a volcanic mineral, although it does not affect the nutrient quality or the pH of the mix. It does aid in drainage and in air and water retention. In fact, perlite is sometimes used in outdoor gardens to prevent sandy soil from leaching nutrients.
  • Vermiculite: Vermiculite particles are those silvery-gray flecks you see in potting soil. It’s a mica-type material that is heated up and expanded. This process increases the vermiculite’s water holding capacity so it can perform a very important function within the mix. Essentially, what happens within the mix is that the vermiculite particles will soak up water and nutrients, holding them, until the plants are ready to access them. It is important to note that Jiffy uses strict guidelines and quality control in the mining of vermiculite and all mixes are asbestos-free.
Through many years of experience and development, Jiffy has developed the right blend of all natural ingredients for mixes aiding in the growth of today’s common garden plants. Jiffy mixes contain only the highest quality of natural and organic ingredients.
 
With a better understanding of Jiffy’s top grade mixes, let’s discuss the potential pitfalls of using plain soil. There are two major drawbacks.
 
The first drawback is that you don’t know what other materials are contained within the soil. You may be exposing your seeds to disease spores, bacteria, plant eating insects, weed seeds and other undesirables. While your soil may be very effective outdoors it may perform poorly when in a self-contained environment. Several factors may contribute to the success of your soil in the garden, including natural predators and even weather events. These variables help to keep everything in balance and altering or eliminating them may help to cause poor results.
 
The second drawback is the lack of drainage for young seedlings. Garden soil tends to become very dense without consistent tilling, either by you, earthworms or other insects. The soil will start to compact after several waterings. This compaction is especially hard on the tender roots of young seedlings that are just starting to get established.
 
One of the greatest pleasures for vegetable gardeners is seeing something flourish that you have had complete control over, especially when it concerns ones food source. Growing vegetables from seeds requires a lot of patience, but it also requires a lot of nurturing and getting back to Mother Earth. Unlike buying produce from a store, in which consumers are completely blind to the location or manner of the food source, gardeners who grow the product themselves are involved in the process from start to finish. Picking the right growing media and knowing what is in that media allows for peace of mind that and gives you the best chance for success.
 
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