A Quick Guide: Germinating Seeds

//A Quick Guide: Germinating Seeds

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One of the great things about growing in an indoor environment is that you don’t have to wait until spring to start of some seedlings! Even if you are facing a tediously long and drawn out English Winter, you can be safe in the knowledge that your indoor garden is not beholden to the outside elements. You can craft the ideal conditions for pretty much whatever crop you are growing, brazenly defying the natural world outside. Here we will look at a few ways to get started in the world of seeds and go through some typical ‘best practice’ type scenarios.

In The Beginning

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Firstly, it is worth noting that some seeds will have their own individual requirements that you need to take account of, so always check the packet in case they need any special attention. However, this is a very generalised guide that you grant you success over a wide variety of crop types, so let’s get started.

Choose your weapon

The growing media that you choose does have a slight impact on how you germinate the seeds, but only in terms of what you need to do to prepare, before planting. Let’s quickly look at a few common types:

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Soil: You can find lightly fertilised soil in any garden centre or hydroponic shop you walk into. You do not want a heavily fertilised soil, as it will probably be too much for a small plant to endure. Simply then fill some cell trays or small plant and they are ready for seeds.

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Coco: This works in a very similar way to soil, but as coir is almost inert, you will need to irrigate with an appropriately weak nutrient solution, usually around an EC of 1.0-1.2 (or at half strength dosage). Other than making sure you choose the right nutrient, coco works almost exactly as soil does.

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Rockwool: If you are going down the 100% hydroponic route, you will need to soak the rockwool cubes in a pH and nutrient adjusted solution. Firstly, to make sure the pH of the media is ok, and also to provide a small amount of nutrition. Soak in a solution with a pH of roughly 5.6, and an EC of roughly 1.0-1.2.

Does the type of fertiliser matter?

Whilst trying to keep things simple, it is a good idea to use a media specific fertiliser, ideally tailored to younger plants. Fertiliser for younger plants will tend to have elevated levels of micro-nutrients, to ensure optimal growth in a young plant. This allows you to deliver what a seedling requires, without raising the EC to too high a level. Fertiliser are essentially made of salts, and as we all know, slats attract water. When deposited in the media, they make it increasingly harder for a for a plant to take up water, the higher the EC goes. While you can use a normal fertiliser at a weak application rate, seed specific fertiliser is often the best choice.

Everything is prepared, now what?

While you may need to check the planting depth on the packet at this point, for most seeds you come across, planting them at a depth of around half a centimetre will be perfect. Simply use a small poking device to make a little hole, drop your seed in and cover over the top so no light hits the seed. Some crops may benefit from sowing a few seeds in the same cell, and then thinning-out (removing) they weaker ones when they sprout, or even leaving in for nice dense foliage (i.e rocket, basil)

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Once you have sown your seed you want to water through to make sure your seed has had a nice coating of water, and then that is pretty much it! Other than the occasional sprinkling of water every few days or so to keep them moist, you don’t need to do anything until you see them sprout. Sprouting times are different depending on crop types, some seeds sprouting within 5-7 days or earlier, where-as some crops will take 10-14 or more. Check the back of your seed packet for more detailed timelines.

Then what?

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Once the have been sewn into the appropriate media, and watered through, you will want to place them in a propagator, with a light above ready to turn on when you see them sprout. The temperature of the propagator is fairly significant in germination success rates, and speed. You do not want it too cold as this will slow things down massively and even prevent germination completely in some extreme cases. Try to maintain a comfortable 20°C within the media, and you should be fine. In particularly cold areas you may require a heat mat to maintain this temperature.

The end of the begining

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So that’s basically it! You will soon be the proud owner of lots of baby plants. This is only the beginning though, as the young plants grow you will quickly need to adapt the conditions to cater to their growing needs. Hardening off being the name of the game from this point onwards, but for now you can be smugly satisfied with yourself about bringing some fresh new life into the world.

By |2018-11-05T11:21:48+00:00October 10th, 2018|Categories: Getting Started|