Homemade Seed Starter Mix


Pure garden soil is often too heavy for optimal seed germination. The ingredients of seed-starter mix specifically counters this by being light and well drained enough to help the seeds develop. If you don't have access to a garden store or nursery that sells commercially prepared seed starter, you can make your own homemade starter whether you want a soilless recipe or one based on soil.

Soilless Seed Starter

Step 1

Pour equal parts of sphagnum peat moss, perlite and vermiculite into a bucket.

Step 2

Add 1/3 tsp. of agricultural lime to the bucket. This neutralizes the natural acidity of the sphagnum peat moss, according to the Northwestern Health Sciences University.

Step 3

Mix the bucket's contents thoroughly and use the soilless mix as you would any commercially prepared product.

Soil-Based Mix

Step 1

Measure equal parts of compost, garden soil and vermiculite or perlite.

Step 2

Place the garden soil in a baking dish and bake it in your oven at 275 degrees F for 30 minutes to sterilize it, according to the Philadelphia County Cooperative Extension. Allow the soil to cool after baking.

Step 3

Combine the cooled soil with the compost and vermiculite or perlite. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly, then use it as you would a commercially prepared seed-starter mix.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use un-sterilized garden soil, as it may contain pests or plant diseases that can endanger your seeds and seedlings.

Things You'll Need

  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Vermiculite
  • Agricultural lime
  • Compost
  • Garden Soil
  • Baking Pan
  • Oven


  • "Burpee: The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener"; Karan Cutler, et al.; 1997
  • Northwestern Health Sciences University: Organic Gardening
  • Penn State University Philadelphia County Cooperative Extension: Get Sprouting
Keywords: homemade seed starter, seed starter mix, mixing seed soil

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.