Spring is around the corner and Let It Grow Foundation’s Jayson Foxx and Cliff Rosen share some advice on how to begin preparing and planning your soil mix for seed planting:

How do you start the process of planning to plant seeds?

At Let It Grow, we prefer pre-planting in seed trays and once they have sprouted, leave in the trays for another two weeks for them to get strong and hardened off, before planting in the ground. We also use this method as we often pre-plant for our projects and this is an easy and simple way of both protecting the plants and transporting them. Planting in trays and then keeping them in a protected area, and watered, is another way of getting a head start on the growing season, so by the time spring is here the seedlings are ready for the ground.

In permaculture, which is the agriculture method we use as it is an ecosystem intended for sustainability and self-sufficiency, everything begins with the soil. Good soil rich in nutrients yields produce that is healthy and nutritious. Therefore, when planning your urban garden for spring, start with the soil mix that you will use in the seed trays.

How do you make your soil mix?

We mix a coco peat growing medium with worm castings or sieved compost in a bucket. Coco peat products are natural, organic and environmentally friendly growing mediums, produced from aged and mature brown coconut husks. Coco peat is also known as coir, coir pith or kokos. It has an excellent water retention capacity and holds almost 1,000% its own weight in water. The high water holding capacity is ideal for water conservation. Plus the coco fibres increase the air-water ratio which promotes strong and early root growth and better crop yields.

Worm castings are an all-purpose organic fertiliser that is easy-to-use, odourless, weed-free, guaranteed not to burn, and suitable for all soils and plants. It is full of microorganisms which help with all soil health.

Add a sprinkle of bone meal and rock dust and be sure to mix well. Bone meal is rich in the mineral phosphorus that plants need for healthy root development. It also contains calcium and a little bit of nitrogen, both of which are beneficial to plants. Rock dust is crushed volcanic rock which has 72+ minerals. When applied to soils it provides a slow natural release of minerals and trace elements, stimulates soil micro-organism activity, raises moisture and nutrient storage capacity of soils and produces more nutritious crops.

Once mixed together thoroughly, place into your seed trays and begin planting. Remember to label your trays clearly – we use recycled wooden ice cream sticks to write on.

If you’re feeling adventurous, change the recipe slightly per tray to test for differences in growth – we have clients who Reiki the seeds first, some use crystals, others tobacco – become part of the process and keep learning.

Where can one buy these ingredients?

Bonemeal and worm castings are available from Talborne Organics, coco peat bricks are available from ProGrow or Nutrigro and rock dust is available from Turbo-Grow. You can check your local nursery too.