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Gardening

How Do I Start From Seed?

It is always a good idea to soak seeds over night.

This will make sure that the seeds absorb enough water to germinate quickly. If seeds are left to soak for too long they will begin to germinate; this can be dangerous for the seed as the radical (root) can be damaged when planting the seed. If the radical is damaged then the seed will die.

Once the seeds have soaked for 8 – 12 hours they can be planted out into either peat pellets, rockwool cubes, rapid rooter plugs or oasis cubes.

Be sure to soak the peat pellets in water before planting the seed. This will only take a few minutes. Rockwool needs to be pre-soaked at a pH of 5 or treated with a Rockwool Soak before planting seeds into it.

Once the seed has germinated and the cotyledons (first pair of leaves) have emerged the seedling will require light.

Fluorescent lights are the best for this purpose. A grower can use a 2’ – two bulb T5 fluorescent fixture, a 4’ – four bulb fluorescent fixture with 6500k bulbs or a compact fluorescent 150w or 200w daylight bulb to supply light for the seedlings.

It is not recommended that a HID light be used for young seedlings or clones unless it is positioned high enough above the plants so as not to dry them out.

Seeds and seedlings should only be given water until the first true leaves have developed. Once the first true leaves have expanded out then a mild strength (¼ strength) grow nutrient solution should be given to the seedlings. Giving seedlings too strong a nutrient will cause the seedling to go into shock, burn the young developing roots and possibly kill the seedling. Once the grower has started feeding his seedlings with a mild strength nutrient it is advisable the grower use a root enhancer such as House and Garden Roots Excelurator. This will help create a strong, healthy seedling.

A seedling is ready to be planted out when it is 2-3 inches tall and the roots are coming out the bottom of the rockwool cube or peat pellet. When transplanting a seedling it is important to plant the seedling with the least amount of stress as possible.

Vegetative Stage

Once the seedling has been transplanted it then enters the vegetative stage. This stage is to ensure the development of a strong and healthy root system while the leaf canopy begins to expand. A healthy, well developed root system is required for fast growing, high yielding plants. Most of the plants nutrients and water is taken up through the root system; the plant also stores sugars in the roots. Without the support of a good root system the plant will not be able to perform at its peak.

To create a healthy root system, a grower should ensure that the ppm levels and the pH of the nutrient system are correctly balanced.

Over-feeding by the grower to try and push the plant or to try and get a bit extra out of the plant will only result in a damaged root system and a stunted or slow growing plant. For soil growers, a pH of 6.3-6.5 is ideal. The ppm of the nutrient solution should be between 500 – 700 for early vegetative growth and 800 – 1000 for late vegetative growth. Soil growers should also use Rooters Mycorrhizae in the growing medium. Mycorrhiza needs to be mixed into the soil prior to planting. Mycorrhizae fungi works well with organic nutrients, as conventional nutrients can damage this fungi, especially if the grower tries to push his plants to a maximum. For hydroponics growers the nutrient solution should be balanced to a pH of between 5.8 and 6.2; pH 6 being ideal. Rooting enhancers such as House and Garden Roots Excel should be used through out the vegetative cycle. Fast growing roots require phosphorus so a nutrient with good phosphate levels should be used. Looking after the plants root system also ensures the maximum development of the leaf canopy. A healthy disease and insect-free leaf canopy will make maximum use of the lighting system it is growing under. For plants that are phototropic, such as strawberries, the plant will remain in vegetative state as long as the light duration is long days short nights e.g. 18 hours of lighting and 6 hours of darkness. Some plants e.g. Tomatoes, will begin flowering once they have reached a specific maturity. Tomatoes will flower after being in the vegetative state for about two months. Plants that are phototropic will begin flowering once the day length shortens or when switching from an eighteen hour light cycle to a twelve hour light cycle.

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