Can you all help me figure out a seed starting mix? I've only "really" gardened for one full year and my biggest failure was my starts. Most all of them were super leggy, which is a problem that has been addressed. But other than that I also used some poor soil to sprout them, something I'd like to change.
I have some pretty weak compost and some great worm castings. I could whip up some biochar. I could also sift some 14 month old wood chips for their fines. My garden soil is still pretty much a joke but my best idea now is to combine those things more or less equally (probably less char) and see how it goes?
My garden is small, I'll probably start about 100-150 plants and transplant less than half of those. Should I just go buy a bag or two of something to hold me over until I produce better materials at home?
I am definitely NOT the best source for information but based on what I have learned so far in the desert mountain area of southwest Utah I have learned that our soil is pathetic and planting in containers or raised beds is the direction we want to go. Get a soil test kit to test for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash. Odds are in a desert type region your soil is slightly alkaline but that should be workable for most things, unless they like acidic soil like blueberries. I will guess your soil is deficient in Nitrogen and Phosphorus but you need to test to make sure. Odds are you will need fertilizer, so either organic/natural or Miracle Grow, whichever way you prefer.
My awakening was last August when none of the veggies or fruittrees or grape vines were productive, but a tomato seed left by the chickens at the downhill side of their area started growing mid-July and was huge and full of tomatoes by late August..... until the frost hit them in September and let them all go to waste. That was when I realized I needed to seriously up the game on fertilizer.
Good luck. Just study first and do it right from the beginning.
When in doubt, doubt the doubt.
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit