If you are new to hydroponics the feel of soil between your fingers could soon be a thing of the past. Soilless hydroponic husbandry brings in a new method of starting and growing plants.
Instead of soil hydroponics uses sterile and inert growing mediums. These are to give the plants something to form roots around and create ventilation. The growth medium does not feed the plants.
Starting Your Seeds
Seeds for hydroponic gardening are germinated in rock-wool grow cubes. These can be bought at hydroponics suppliers and come under several manufacturers names. The grow cubes are about an inch along each edge and one side has a small depression pressed into it. The cubes are sterile.
Prepare Your Cubes
Fill a container with water and get an accurate Ph reading. You are looking for a pH of 5.5. Adjust the Ph level by adding very small amounts of the necessary product. Once the water is at 5.5 Ph level you must soak the grow cubes in it. The cubes are naturally alkaline so soaking them will bring the pH level up to a more neutral level. Soak the cubes for 24 hours.
Plant the Seeds in the Cubes
Place two or three seeds into the depression punched into each cube. The cubes can be arranged on a flat tray and Ph adjusted water poured into the tray to about a quarter of the depth of the cubes. Maintain the pH of the water at 5.5 until the seeds have germinated. Ensure that the cubes do not try out.
Thin out the Seeds
Remove the weakest seedlings from each cube so that there is only one seedling per cube.
Start Feeding the Seedlings
Make a weak solution of hydroponic feed. Mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wait for thirty to forty minutes then test the Ph level. The feed solution should have a Ph level of 6 to 6.5. Any adjustments should be very small so if you need to add product use veryt tiny amounts. Remove the water from the cube trays and clean them. Place the cubes back on the trays and pour the feed solution onto the trays up to about a quarter of the depth of the cubes.
Rinse and Repeat
Every 2 days remove the cubes from the trays and empty out the solution. Clean the trays carefully and add new feed solution checking the correct pH level each time.
Plant into the Hydroponics System
When the seedlings are showing roots at least half an inch long through the cubes you can plant them into the main hydroponics system.
Although this method of preparing and germinating seeds is a little more involved than just putting the seeds into a patch of soil the results will show how worthwhile it is. Hydroponically grown plants are cleaner and grow faster and more luxuriantly than soil grown plants.