For a number of years in the past I had used a mixture of 1/3 black soil, 1/3 sand and 1/3 peat. However in 1985 I lost nearly a third of my seedlings due to damp off. This happened even though I had treated the soil with No Damp, right after I had planted the seed.
After the seedlings were nicely up, then they started to damp off. At that time I did not use any more water on the seedlings because the soil was wet enough. The time came however when I had to either watch them all die from damping off or treat them and hope that extra water would not make the situation worse. I used 1.5 times the recommended dosage of 10 ml per liter. The damping off was under control in a few days. It was my feeling that the recommended dosage of 10 ml per liter of water was the bare minimum that one should use.
Another advantage of the soilless mix is that when the flats are loaded they are only one third to one half the weight of a flat with the soil mix!
I successfully grew in 1987 nearly 2.5 times the number of seedlings from 26 flats than I had from 22 flats in 1986. Also the 1987 seedlings were more even in their growth, and germination did seem better than the year before.
The first fertilizer I use on seedlings is 15-30-15, and then I follow it with 20-19-18 fertilizer, Peat Lite, specially made for a soilless mix.
A person also needs to watch for any insect damage; I used Diazinon on any infested rows of seedlings. I noticed with the soilless mix one is less likely to over water the flats, then the soil mix. However one must still provide good drainage. I would often wait too long with the soil mix before I applied the No Damp and Diazinon treatment for fear of over watering. With the soilless mix the surplus water will simply drain off, that is if you provided drainage holes.
The seed is planted in rows, 2 inches apart and 1/4 to 3/8" deep and then I put a layer of Vermiculite on the top 1/4 to 3/8" deep. This keeps the lily seed from floating away from the rows when watering. It also keeps the Pro Mix [soilless mix brand] from drying out too fast.
The plastic cover which I place over the flat (each flat separately) is removed once the seedlings are growing. I put on another coat of Vermiculite when the seedlings are about 2 inches tall. This is to protect the media from the rays of the sun, prevents over heating of the bare media. The extra vermiculite layer also prevents the fast drying out of the Pro Mix.
by Fred Fellner (CPLS Newsletter #44:4)