While 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.
- 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.