Seed Sprouting Mix
Selecting a nursery for your baby Seedlings.

Plain old Garden Soil will sprout most seeds,
and produce vegetables as healthful and nutritious
as the most expensive Seed Sprouting Mix.
But that's where the similarity ends.

The two Flat Inserts shown above were sown on the same day. The one on the left shows Tomato Seedlings in a good Seed Sprouting Mix. The one on the right has Castor Bean Seeds(which did not sprout yet) sown in Compost. It is overflowing with various Weed Seedlings. Their ambitious roots will invade every particle of soil.

The purpose of Soil is to support the Seedling (so it doesn't fall over), and to supply moisture, nutrients, and oxygen to the Rootlets. The big difference seen in the photo above is that Weeds have taken over. You could cut or pull the Weed Seedlings, but it is very difficult to distinguish them from desirable seedlings.

The BIG unseen difference is that the Mix is sterile. It is naturally free of Weed Seeds, Insects and their Eggs, and Bacteria. Or it has been treated to kill these nuisances. Bacteria produce Diseases like "Damping-Off" which often attacks emerging Seedlings at soil level, as though they had been pinched by an Ant. 

You can sterilize garden soil in a disposable aluminum roaster made for Turkeys.  But be aware that creeping, crawling, flying critters may escape into your kitchen, and the earthy aroma may not appeal to you and your human guests.

The easy and not-so-expensive commercial Mix is the way to go. Mixes often contain no soil, but are composed of Peat Moss, Perlite, Vermiculite, and maybe Expanded Clay, Sand, Sawdust, Nutrients, or Compost.

A good mix will absorb half its volume in liquid. That means that a quart of Mix will absorb a pint of liquid, which equates to less frequent waterings. It is usually dry when you buy it, so it is best to moisten it before filling Flats or Inserts.
Moisten only as much as you plan to use.

If you happen to get Seed Sprouting Mix too wet,
pouring it onto a window screen will allow it to drain quickly.

You can speed up Seed Sprouting,
by applying Bottom Heat.

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