This morning I was reading some replies to a different topic (on Media) that started me thinking about seed starting...plus it is the seed starting time of year.  TCLynx was saying that she uses peat pots for her cucumbers to start them in a more favorable pH environment.  Hmmm...never thought of that.  Raychel is using coconut fiber she shreds from her own coconut trees!  I think John Thompson uses pearlite.  Can you guys expand on your techniques?

I'm a big fan of Rapid Rooter peat / latex sponges, largely for their convenience and because I have a supply left over from experiments with the company who makes them from years gone by.  They do a great job with most seeds but I find, however,  that they don't do well with large seeds.  I need to try another technique...maybe vermicompost?  What is your advice?

Views: 897

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I use Grodan cubes (rockwool) for most plants with easy success. I also use them for clonings.
I do use coconut fiber in my net pots. I used to put the seeds in this also. I now plant the seeds in the trays of peat pellets you get at Home Depot. I let the plant grow a little and then wrap the whole thing in the coconut fiber and put it in the net pot. This seems to to be better than directly into the coconut fiber. I even germinated some grapefruit trees in these peat pellets. I don't think I will put the trees in the trough but the seeds really did well. In Hawaii we suffer from a shipping problem. It can cost you more to ship than the original object costs. This gives us very few options. All of my pots are just suspended in water with no rocks, gravel, or hydronton. Some people use volcano cinders. I hope to make a system using these as soon as I understand how to make the flood and drain system
I would also be curious to know a more sustainable method vs rockwool or store bought peat pellets. I will test a few ideas I have. The heat and water (and the microclimate it creates) is really what matters here I think. Any more ideas out there?

Raychel A Watkins said:
I do use coconut fiber in my net pots. I used to put the seeds in this also. I now plant the seeds in the trays of peat pellets you get at Home Depot. I let the plant grow a little and then wrap the whole thing in the coconut fiber and put it in the net pot. This seems to to be better than directly into the coconut fiber. I even germinated some grapefruit trees in these peat pellets. I don't think I will put the trees in the trough but the seeds really did well. In Hawaii we suffer from a shipping problem. It can cost you more to ship than the original object costs. This gives us very few options. All of my pots are just suspended in water with no rocks, gravel, or hydronton. Some people use volcano cinders. I hope to make a system using these as soon as I understand how to make the flood and drain system
Very inventive, Raychel.

Are you using the Friendly Aquaponics model for your system?

Raychel A Watkins said:
I do use coconut fiber in my net pots. I used to put the seeds in this also. I now plant the seeds in the trays of peat pellets you get at Home Depot. I let the plant grow a little and then wrap the whole thing in the coconut fiber and put it in the net pot. This seems to to be better than directly into the coconut fiber. I even germinated some grapefruit trees in these peat pellets. I don't think I will put the trees in the trough but the seeds really did well. In Hawaii we suffer from a shipping problem. It can cost you more to ship than the original object costs. This gives us very few options. All of my pots are just suspended in water with no rocks, gravel, or hydronton. Some people use volcano cinders. I hope to make a system using these as soon as I understand how to make the flood and drain system
I attended Friendly Aquaponics class last year. It was wonderful. My two large rafts are somewhat modeled after them. One thing they stressed was to build your system with what you have around. This is what I did. I then set up my old system that I had designed before I went to the class. It is made out of half barrels. I really like it because it is waist high and I don't have to bend down. Also We have a problem with big toads here. I love the toads but not in my system. I have had one crop of toads since I put it up and I notice they are back in the water. I will use a variation of this system for my next venture. I will make troughs like the on the ground system. I will make them 2 ft wide and 8 feet long. I will attach them together just like the barrels. They will all be waist high. Much easier for a person to plant and to harvest. The peat pellets were my idea and they are working well. Friendly Aquaponics uses coconut fiber they buy in cubes. I just figured since I have endless coconuts I would use them. Free is better. I am very interested in all types of systems. My main objective is to try to convince people this is a viable way to raise really health food. Everybody wants to do it but later when they are not so busy. They may find themselves hungry some day.
Thanks for explaining, Raychel. Never occurred to me that toads could be a problem! Are they just a mess? I agree with you about the importance of getting the word out - read my blog this week about a rather failed attempt at doing that (Aquaponic Gardening Blog tab at the top). Can't win 'em all...

Raychel A Watkins said:
I attended Friendly Aquaponics class last year. It was wonderful. My two large rafts are somewhat modeled after them. One thing they stressed was to build your system with what you have around. This is what I did. I then set up my old system that I had designed before I went to the class. It is made out of half barrels. I really like it because it is waist high and I don't have to bend down. Also We have a problem with big toads here. I love the toads but not in my system. I have had one crop of toads since I put it up and I notice they are back in the water. I will use a variation of this system for my next venture. I will make troughs like the on the ground system. I will make them 2 ft wide and 8 feet long. I will attach them together just like the barrels. They will all be waist high. Much easier for a person to plant and to harvest. The peat pellets were my idea and they are working well. Friendly Aquaponics uses coconut fiber they buy in cubes. I just figured since I have endless coconuts I would use them. Free is better. I am very interested in all types of systems. My main objective is to try to convince people this is a viable way to raise really health food. Everybody wants to do it but later when they are not so busy. They may find themselves hungry some day.
i have tree frogs and toads too but have grown to love them. They do tend to poop everywhere :P Between the frogs and lizards patrolling my garden I am not seeing nearly as many bugs.
and they can't fly away like ladybugs! but I can understand that a mess of Useless toad poop would be very annoying.

Daniel E Murphy said:
i have tree frogs and toads too but have grown to love them. They do tend to poop everywhere :P Between the frogs and lizards patrolling my garden I am not seeing nearly as many bugs.
Basil takes some time to grow it seems.

Pamela Urbas said:
I germinated basil, lettuce and spinach in coconut but since my system wasn't up yet I used plain water. Without the nutrients the basil hasn't done much past the sprouting stage but the lettuce is doing better. I've since started a fishless cycle and plan on watering from that to get them going. In the meantime I took six basil plants that I germinated in regular soil and rinsed the roots. Two days later they haven't suffered any ill effects from having moved from soil to soilless even though they are pretty good sized.
In my gravel beds, I find simply direct seeding is best most of the time.

When I do need to start seeds separate from the system, I have used a number of different methods.

Yep, have used peat pellets. The acidic nature of them seems to agree with cucumbers quite well though I'm still having trouble making cucumbers happy in my systems because of the buffered nature of the shells I used in the media. I've even tried the little coco coir pellets and they seemed to work well too but I would like to stick to methods that don't cost extra for every crops and I want to keep it sustainable.

Other tricks I've used that have worked really well for the plants going in the NFT pipes or rafts. Get a rayon mop head (around here I can get the good will mop heads at the grocery store. They are the bright white string.) Rayon seems to wick best, cotton doesn't seem to work as well. Anyway, I cut strings and place them in the net pots (well in my case, yogurt cups with holes in them) and surround by my media, keeping the string up near the top. The wet it down and tuck seed into the string. I have added a cotton ball on occasion to assist with keeping the seed moist. This method has worked great for peppers, basil, purslane, lettuce, and anything else that grows well in NFT or DWC.

I have even a couple times just run the string in the cup and put the seed on the string in the bottom to see if it would work, just letting the roots follow the string out of the cup into the water. It did work but the plants are stunted that are growing that way.
I am also experimenting/trying to germinate seeds in the gravel grow bed. We have been having very cool weather since I planted, 20 degrees below normal, but I did notice that some of the Kohlrabi was starting to poke through a few days ago. May have some lettuce that is just starting to come up. We are also trying a few carrots, beans and Stevia (very small seeds!). We will try some of the great suggestions here and continue our education.
If you look at my photo albums you will see that I use the commercial hydroponic floating seed tray. They come in 144 and 72 cells. I float them on top of my fish tanks. I float a few pieces of half inch styrofoam foil backed insulation on the tanks. I fill them with a mix of worm castings and coir. The reason I float them on the sheet of Insulation to to keep them from getting too wet. They keep the fish tank from getting too hot and reduce the direct sunlight. I built my tanks to the dimensions to float them on top. When I want to transplant them I just take them out of the tank for a day or so they dry out and can pull out of the cells as a unit. They work great.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2014   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service