Beginners Guide to Seed Starting for Hydroponic Gardening
The best thing about hydroponic gardening is that you can control almost every input precisely, the water, macro and micro-nutrients, light, variety and type of crops.
If you are here today, by now you might have set up the hydroponic system at your home. Now, you have all the equipment and materials required and yes, the excitement to grow your first crop. The very first thing to do is seed starting.
Today, we will help you with this crucial process. It's super easy, follow a few simple steps and relish the home gardening experience.
Materials Required for Seed Starting
A Grow Tray/Container:
Grow tray/container designed to germinate multiple seeds at once by holding them close. These trays come in various shapes and sizes, and you should use tray having a depth of around 5-6 inches for getting the best results.
The grow tray will not only hold seeds but also contains the nutrient solution. It supplies essential nutrients to plant seeds for their proper germination and development.
Starting Medium/Starter Plug:
A starting medium helps seed in the germination in many ways. It provides proper aeration which allows the best possible root growth and acts as a medium to supply roots with water and nutrients.
You can choose from a variety of growing media to use for starting seeds. Popular options available in the market are Perlite, Vermiculite, Rockwool, Coco-coir.
Different medium comes with a distinct advantage. If you use Rockwool or Coco-coir cubes for starting seeds, you don't need to uproot the seedling when they get mature for transplantation. You can place the entire cube with the seedling in the hydroponic system directly.
Nutrient Solution, food for the growing ones
Nutrient Solution is a formulated mixture of all the essential micro and micro-nutrients that a plant needs during its growth period.
But for seeds, using a full-strength hydroponic nutrient solution will not be a good idea. During the germination period, they are very delicate. The salts present in nutrients solution can cause trouble in water uptake and alter the development of roots.
What should you do to protect your seeds from getting an overdose of nutrients? You can use a dilute or half-strength nutrient solution for your baby plants.
Net pots make things handier for you. It allows good circulation of air in the root zone which is essential for plant's early growth. You can place the net pots in the grow tray, and once the seedling gets matured for transplanting, you can directly place them in the hydroponic system.
Steps to Follow for Proper Germination and Transplantation:
1. Prepare the growing medium: Preparation is something that can increase your chances of success. For seeds getting germinated successfully, the medium should provide adequate moisture to them. Put the medium in distilled water at least an hour so that they get moist thoroughly.
2. Put the seeds in place: Once the growing medium gets moist, place seeds inside it. If you are using Rockwool or Coco-coir cubes for germination, plant at least some extra in each cube so that if one or two fails to germinate, others may succeed.
Once you placed all the seeds in, settle the cubes in the growing tray or container gently.
3. Provide nutrients and water: Fill the tray with the nutrient solution (that you had specially prepared for seeds earlier). Don't fill the tray up to the top, the level should not be more than half the height of cubes.
Keep the checking the nutrient solution level frequently, and refill the tray if it goes down.
4. Give adequate light exposure: A hydroponic home kit comes equipped with grow lights, providing the right amount of light for seeds and maturing plants in the system.
You can also put the growing tray in natural sunlight as it is easy to move anywhere. As soon as the seeds start sprouting, slowly increase the light intensity.
5. The final step, transplantation of seedlings: After waiting so long, here comes the moment of joy that you were seeking. Once the roots start showing up outside the cubes, seedlings are ready to be transplanted in the hydroponic system.
Carefully pick the cubes or the net pots, and place them into your hydroponic system. Put some more growing medium in the net pots and schedule the nutrient and water supply.
Hydroponic home gardening is even more exciting than it seems. To experience that real excitement of growing your food in an eco-friendly way at home, go ahead and check out our range of hydroponic home kits. Happy Gardening!