Germinating Your Seeds


Germinating Your Seeds

All plants start from a seed. Although your hydroponic crops can be cloned or cut from existing plants, sometimes it’s great to get back to the basics. If you choose to germinate seeds hydroponically, there won’t be any soil to assess and therefore many common seedling diseases and fungal problems can be avoided altogether. Yay!

Typically, seedlings with the strongest start are the ones that will perform best in your garden. Hydroponic growing lets you control many of the variables that contribute to a strong start for your plants! Growers who switch from soil germination to hydroponic germination generally see a much higher germination rate than they’re accustomed to—sometimes by up to 15%! Healthy water and a bit of warmth are enough to take a seed from its dormant stage and activate the germination process. Grow mediums like rockwool, vermiculite and perlite can create ideal conditions for seeds!

Rockwool cubes are specially designed for germinating seeds. The cubes come in various quantities and sizes and may need to be soaked prior to accommodating seeds. Rockwool has a high pH (around 7.5) and the ideal pH for plants is around 6, so how do you correct the pH for a rockwool germinating medium? Use a test to determine the pH levels of your water. You’ll more than likely need to lower it (make it more acidic) by using a hydroponic product or a natural acid like lemon juice. Keep adding your stabilizer in small quantities until the pH of your water is around 5.5, then soak the rockwool cubes in your treated water for about an hour. The cubes will emerge with the proper pH and you’ll be ready to tuck your seeds inside for germination.

Vermiculite and perlite are two other growing materials suitable for encouraging germination. Perlite is a grower favorite because of how well it wicks water, provides adequate air space and does not alter a system’s pH. Seeds are planted in perlite just like they would be in soil. Many seeds have stored nutrients in their tissues and don’t need any additional hydro-nutrients until they’re fully sprouted, so all that’s necessary during this phase is periodic watering, just as though they were planted in soil. Once the seedlings appear to have sprouted, a light nutrient solution will suffice to feed the seed.

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