The beauty of hydroponics is that it allows you to have complete control over every input you make to your plants: be it air, water, light, or nutrients. You may have already tasted success in your first hydroponics system or you may have been running one for a long time. Lots of reading and research on the subject, multiple trips back and forth to your local store or gardening supply store, the time spent operating your system is worth it as you advance each day a little further towards food independence!
But where did you get your first plants from? Maybe you got them directly as seedlings from the garden store? Buying pre-grown seedlings/seedlings is a good option for beginners. But in the long run, learning how to start with your own batch of seeds is the best option and will be much more beneficial financially. Today we will look at why this is so and we will also look at all the processes involved in making your seedlings easy.
Why seeds are better than store plants
Remember what we said at the start, about how hydroponics gives you complete control over the inputs you have control over… Well, seeds are inputs too, right? They are arguably the most important input, as they also decide the type of plants and the productivity of your final harvest. So why would you want to leave this all-important aspect in the hands of others?
Easy access to all desired varieties
Seeds are more abundant and easier to obtain. In fact, some rarer plants are often only available as seeds.
Cleaner (less trauma involved)
When doing the seed starting process at home, you can plan ahead and create seedlings in a soilless medium. But when you buy from a store, you can't guarantee that. As you know very well by now, soil and hydroponic systems do not belong together. The soil can also contain contaminants. Seedlings planted in the ground will need to undergo thorough rinsing and cleaning. And if you're not careful, it can damage the fragile roots of young plants. When you start with seeds, this complication will not arise.
Planting seeds is cheaper
Buying seeds is always cheaper than buying seedlings of the same plant!
Starting seeds takes time and effort. And you can bet the local store or nursery will charge you extra for it. Start at home and you can skip that middleman.
If you want to do legitimate hydroponics, you need to learn how to start your own seeds. It is an integral part of plant growth.
When you buy already grown seedlings, you almost feel like cheating. Plus, watching a plant grow from a tiny seed will give you more satisfaction than a seedling someone else has grown.
A gentler way to start the plant
Like mature plants, seeds also need a growing medium to burrow their roots and grow. A very popular option is to buy small cubes of rockwool, coconut fiber or similar growing medium. They are squishy cubes that can hold air and water. Each cube has a hole in which you can drop a single seed (or several, depending on the size and type of seed).
The advantage of using cubes is that you don't have to uproot the seedlings once they are ready for transplanting. You can take the whole cube and place it directly in the grow space.
There is also another option in boot plugs called quick root. It is a wet cube made from organic materials like rotting tree bark and peat. These may contain beneficial microbes that aid in root growth and nutrient uptake.
5-step instructions for making seedlings
1.Prepare the culture medium
Whether you use rockwool, coir, or quick root cubes, you need to soak them in water to prepare them. Rockwool has a higher pH, so you need to wash it well with water to make it suitable for the seeds. Make sure the cubes are moist. For rockwool and coir, keep them in cool water for an hour. Fast Rooting Cubes can be moistened using a combination of pure water and a mild nutrient solution for a few minutes.
2. Place the seeds
There is no guarantee that every seed you start with will germinate. So you might want to place at least a few seeds in each starter cube to ensure you have the most seedlings possible.
Once done, the cubes can be placed in a growing tray or in small individual containers. Any container will do as long as it is at least 2 to 3 cm high and the cube fits inside. For information, you will find easy-to-use germination trays directly on the Blumeo shop.
3. Add water and nutrients
Fill the bottom of the tray with a mixture of water and a low concentration of organic fertilizer.
The water level should be high enough to submerge only half an inch of your cube and no more. Keep an eye on the water level. If it starts to drop, add water and organic fertilizer.
4. Provide adequate light
One of the advantages of a grow box is its mobility. You can move them around the house if needed. If sunlight is available, you can place them on a windowsill or patio. Otherwise, just move them inside and place it under a desk lamp for example. When the seeds start to sprout, increase the light intensity by moving the grow light closer to the tray. However, don't get it higher than 12cm or you risk burning your germs.
5. Transplant the seedlings
Your plants are now ready to be transplanted if their roots come out of the cube. This stage can last from a few weeks to more than four weeks and it is important to see the roots well before placing your cubes in the growing spaces. It all depends on the individual plant species. Continue to water your plants diligently until they reach this stage. If several seeds germinate inside the same cube, find the healthiest and remove the others.
Once they are ready, carefully remove the cubes from your grow tray. You should have a working hydroponic system ready now. Create some space in the growing medium of your hydroponic system and place the entire cube with the seedling inside this space.
And that's all there is to it! Your seedlings are now ready to grow into large, healthy plants in your hydroponic system.
Sowing in conclusion
Learning how to get your own seedlings is very simple and you will definitely get it right the first time! Starting with seeds will be cheaper and give you more freedom. It's also much more satisfying than buying plants from the store. The best thing is that it only takes cost and effort which is minimal. There is no logical reason not to germinate your own seeds for hydroponics.
Do you want to start growing your own food and enjoy the benefits of this activity? So contact us for information on our different solutions.