Hydroponic Seed Starting: A Guide For First Timers

Hydroponics seed starting may not be every beginner's option, but understanding the basics is all it takes to make you succeed in hydroponics gardening.

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A soilless gardening system, such as hydroponic seed starting method, requires determination to succeed and sufficient knowledge on how this kind of gardening innovation operates. Although soil is a basic ingredient in growing plants, the hydroponics system serves as an answer to establishing a garden with healthy plants in the absence of space for soil.

Rockwool is the most preferred mineral wool in hydroponics seed starting method.

Rockwool is the most preferred mineral wool in hydroponics seed starting method.

Why Hydroponics than Other Planting Method?

Hydroponics is definitely one of the best options of gardeners who live in an urban space. Putting up an indoor garden was once a fantasy until hydroponics system was discovered. Here are some of the many advantages why people go for hydroponics than the traditional gardening system:

1. It’s Soilless

Not all soil in every place is suitable for growing plants, but the good news is that it is possible to grow plants without soil through hydroponics. This soilless system is also space-saving and gives no room for weeds to grow.

2. A Pretty Good Plant Growth And Yields

It’s not hard to believe that through hydroponics, plants grow efficiently for about 20% faster than leaving them in the soil. There were also a number of observations recorded that plants grown through hydroponics are bigger and taller than those growing in soil. This can also be accounted for the fewer occurrences of diseases and pest infestations on hydroponic plants.

Graph showing a huge difference in the effect of hydroponics versus soil to the height of tomato plants.

Graph showing a huge difference in the effect of hydroponics versus soil to the height of tomato plants.

3. Water Saving

Ironic as it may sound, but gardeners can save around 90% of water with hydroponics. Instead of being wasted by watering the plant every day, the water is placed in a reservoir where it is stored and used only for plant’s need to absorb it.

4. It’s Easy To Build

Making a hydroponics garden may sound intimidating because of its new concept, but it is, in fact, easy. The popularity of this method made the tools and materials cheap and readily available on the market today.

Benefits Of Starting Your Own Seed

Buying seedlings and growing the plant may be attractive as you can skip the seed-starting process, but there are actually a number of benefits in starting your own seed.

  • You can do-away with choosing the plant that is based only on what is available at the store but can choose the plant that you want to grow.
  • Removing the soil from the seedlings can cause trauma to the plant; thus, there is a huge probability of seeing it wilt or fail to grow healthily.
  • The same amount of money to buy one seedling can already purchase a handful of seeds with a variety of them.
  • There is no guarantee that you can get a seedling which is 100% free clean, meaning free from weeds and pests.
  • Lastly, get that satisfaction of being able to grow a plant from its primary phase to the harvesting phase by not skipping the seed-starting process.

Tools And Materials Needed

Setting up a hydroponics garden may look expensive, but the result is all worth it. Every start of a gardening system is costly, but in hydroponics, the maintenance cost is way cheaper than all other methods.

An average of $30 can already purchase the basic materials needed to set up a hydroponics garden at home.

An average of $30 can already purchase the basic materials needed to set up a hydroponics garden at home.

The following materials are easy to outsource in the market:

  • A grow tray that could fit in your space and the number of plants to grow. 
  • A water reservoir or a container that can hold water.
  • Mesh pots with the size of the plant to grow.
  • A grow cube for the seeds, such as a Rockwool. The number of benefits of a Rockwool in hydroponic seed starting made this material popular.
  • A nutrient solution suitable for the plant’s growth.
  • An aquarium air pump to circulate the hydrogen and oxygen gases for the plant.
Rockwool is found to be an excellent medium for growing seeds because of its moisture-retentive property that allows a healthier seed growth.

Rockwool is found to be an excellent medium for growing seeds because of its moisture-retentive property that allows a healthier seed growth.

Steps In Seed Starting

There are a number of recommended hydroponic systems that beginners can choose from, but whichever you opt to have, make sure to use a clean water as it is an essential thing in Hydroponic seed starting.

Here is our hydroponic seed starter guide to succeeding in this planting method:

  • Let the Rockwool or any preferred grow cube sit in water for an hour. Make sure that you use clean water.
  • Take the grow cube from the water, shaking off the excess liquids.
  • Insert the seeds, about 2 to 4 of them, in each cube.
Putting more than one seed in your grow cube gives a bigger chance of seeing sprouted seeds in one grow cube.

Putting more than one seed in your grow cube gives a bigger chance of seeing sprouted seeds in one grow cube.

  • Germinate the seeds in your nursery for 3 to 5 days. It is also convenient for the seeds to germinate in a ziplock bag placed in a dark area.
  • Observe the seeds’ sprouting process and continually add water or nutrient solution whenever you think it is necessary.
  • Noticing the seeds sprouting should signal you that it’s time to slowly increase the light that the plant is taking in and let you assess as to when to transplant seedlings hydroponics.
The growth of plant roots in your seedlings is a sign that it is ready to be transplanted.

The growth of plant roots in your seedlings is a sign that it is ready to be transplanted.

Steps To Transplanting

Make sure that your hydroponic garden is already set up while the seedlings are still being developed. As soon as the seedlings are ready to be transplanted, carefully pull them from their nursery and transfer them into the hydroponics garden.

Understanding the elements of hydroponics is helpful in choosing the right tools and materials for the process and in setting up your hydroponics garden.

Understanding the elements of hydroponics is helpful in choosing the right tools and materials for the process and in setting up your hydroponics garden.

Take note of the following when transplanting the seedlings:

  • The seedlings of the roots are delicate. Make sure to handle them with extra care in the process of transplanting.
  • Unlike soil, there is no need to remove the seedling from its grow cube. All you need to do is transferring the seedling to the grow tray.
  • Do not let dirt contaminate the seedlings and its grow cube, so make sure to do the transfer in the cleanest and most organized way possible as we do not want our water to be contaminated as well.

Sustaining a Hydroponics Garden

Knowing the process of hydroponic seed starting will be in vain without learning the basic in maintaining a hydroponic garden. There are a number of methods in doing soilless gardening but for beginners, it is better to start with the easiest method like the Kratky hydroponics. This method was made simple by its inventor, Bernard A. Kratky because it does not require electricity or air pumps.

Below are the important points to ponder in maintaining a hydroponics garden:

  • Beginners do not usually apply water filtering system. Thus, ensure that the water and nutrition solution is regularly replaced in an average of once in two weeks. You do not want your plants to be intoxicated with dirty water.
  • Always monitor the water level and add it up whenever it gets low, or it can no longer be reached by the plant’s seed.
  • Keep the aeration going by not letting the plant sink in water.
  • If your garden is located indoor, a grow light is important in replacement of a natural light. LED is popularly used in this system with the proper control of light based on the plant’s needs during daytime and nighttime.
LED and HPS light are commonly used in hydroponics.

LED and HPS light are commonly used in hydroponics.

Conclusion

It is important to know your readiness in setting up a garden with hydroponics system before deciding in growing seedlings for hydroponics. Not all beginners would opt for hydroponic seed starting, but they could always change their preference in the long run, especially when they are already familiar with the entire process of hydroponics gardening.

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Hydroponic Seed Starting: A Guide For First Timers
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Lucy M. Clark
 

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

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