When first starting out, many growers get hung up on whether they should grow from seeds or from clones. In some cases, the decision may be made for you — for instance, if you don’t have access to a mother plant, seeds will be your only choice.
Once you’ve decided that you’ll be growing from seed, you’ll need to answer a couple more questions:
- How will you pick your seeds and from where will you acquire them?
- How will you germinate those seeds?
In today’s article, we’ll look at how to pick and acquire seeds as well as how to germinate them.
Picking And Acquiring Seeds
If you’ve decided to start your garden from seeds, you’ll need to make a few more decisions before commencing your grow — namely, the specific type of plants you want to cultivate and how you’ll go about acquiring the right seeds.
The first and most obvious question to answer is: What kind of plants do you want to grow? If you already know the particular strain that you want to cultivate, it can make your search a little easier.
On the other hand, if you’re not quite sure exactly which plant to grow, you’ll need to do some preliminary research. What specific types of effects are you looking to achieve? Certain strains are associated with particular effects, so do your homework and narrow down your choices before you begin the search for seeds.
When you’re ready to acquire seeds, there are a couple of options available. One option involves ordering from an online seed bank. Another option is to obtain seeds from a local breeder, if there are any in your area.
This second method is advantageous for a couple of reasons. You’ll already know that the plant is well adapted to your local environment and can grow in the conditions you’ll provide, which can save you a lot of time and effort.
Once you’ve obtained your seeds, you’re ready to start growing. But before we dive into how to germinate seeds, let’s first talk about what germination is and what happens during germination.
What Is Seed Germination?
Put simply, germination is the first stage of plant growth when you’re starting from a seed — essentially, it’s seed starting. During germination, the seed absorbs water through its seed coat. Once it starts receiving moisture, growth begins to occur inside the seed.
As growth continues, the seed slowly opens as the embryonic root, also known as the radicle root, begins to emerge.
Once the radicle root has sprouted from the seed, it’s time to transplant it into your grow medium.
Requirements For Germination
In order to germinate, your seeds need the right conditions and proper temperature. But don’t be intimidated — germinating seeds is relatively easy, and you’ll get better with practice.
During germination, seeds need to be in a dark, warm, moist climate. Aim for a seed germination temperature between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s also a good idea to only germinate a few of your seeds at a time, especially if you’re a beginner. For instance, if you have 10 seeds total, try germinating and growing three of them to begin with. This way, you’ll gain some experience and be able to experiment with germinating and grow methods to find out what works and what doesn’t work.
Once the first three seeds have germinated and been transplanted to their grow media, move on to the next three seeds. From there, germinate the last four seeds once you’ve had a couple of chances at germinating and growing your plants.
Now, let’s look at how to germinate seeds.
How To Germinate Seeds
There are a few different methods for germinating seeds. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.
1. Paper Towel Germination
One of the most popular ways to germinate seeds is the paper towel method. To do this, you’ll need paper towels as well as two plates.
The first step is to dampen one of the paper towels and set it on one of the plates. You want the paper towel to be completely wet, but not so much that it’s dripping water or pooling on the plate.
You’ll then place the seeds onto the damp paper towel. Don’t crowd the seeds together — spread them around the paper towel and leave plenty of room between them.
Then place another moist (not soaking or dripping wet) paper towel on top of the seeds. Gently press the paper towel down on top of the seeds to ensure they are completely enveloped between the paper towels.
Finally, place the second plate upside down over the seeds in a clamshell-like fashion. This will provide the dark environment your seeds need to germinate.
You’ll want to check on the seeds every day to monitor their progress and ensure they don’t run out of moisture. If the paper towels start to dry out, dampen them again with a spray bottle.
Germination time can vary, but generally the seeds should open up within a few days of starting the germination process. Once the radicle roots have emerged and grown to a few millimeters in length, you’ll be ready to transfer your seedlings into the grow medium.
2. Grow Medium Germination
Another common germinating method is to place the seeds directly into a grow medium. However, you must be careful with this method; seeds are very sensitive to nutrients, and germinating them in a nutrient-rich environment can actually cause them damage.
Common media for seed germination include rockwool cubes, coco coir pods, or a seedling starter fertilizer. The basic idea here is the same as the paper towel method: You’ll dampen the media, insert the seeds, then keep them in a warm, humid environment until the radicle root emerges.
Once the seedlings have sprouted, you can transfer them directly to your hydroponic system or soil.
What’s The Best Way To Germinate Seeds?
For beginners, the paper towel method is tried-and-true. We recommend using this method for growers who are just starting out.
If you’re a seasoned gardener with experience using different grow media, the second method may be more appropriate for you. It all comes down to your personal preference.
Using The Right Nutrients And Water Supply
It’s important to remember that seedlings are sensitive to nutrients, so you want to make sure that you’re introducing the proper amounts and types of nutrients at the correct time in the plants’ life cycle.
It’s also critical that you provide the plants with water that is pH balanced. If the pH of the water is too high or too low, you could encounter problems with your plants down the road.
In the end of the same sentence as the previous link: Here’s a great article that covers hydroponic growing systems for beginners, and here’s one that goes more in depth about the nutrients you’ll need as your seedlings begin to grow.
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