Many advantages are to be gained over conventional, soil based, seed germination, by using hydroponics. The growing mediums are clean and in a lot of cases sterile, which reduces the instances of disease and infection, as well as insect attack. Soil may contain all kinds of harmful bacteria, fungal spores and insects that might harm vulnerable young plants. Root rot should also be easily avoided, using a high quality growing medium.
Because the hydroponics gardener has complete control over the plantís environment, it is possible to ensure that each and every aspect of the plantís growth is catered for to its optimum effect. This, of course, rules out the inconsistencies in the weather and avoids problems such as late frosts and storms etc. The subsequent advantage to the plants is an ideal climate in which to grow strong and healthy. This leads, eventually, to greater and better quality yields.
A lot of seeds contain their own nutrients and require only water and Oxygen in order to sprout. It is important to realize that using a nutrient solution can and often will either retard or block the seedís ability to germinate. Once it has sprouted and has reached a point where it has viable leaves, then it can be fed using a weak nutrient solution. One species of plant that has very little nutrient within the seed is the Orchid, so, as you can see, it is important to research your plants prior to germination in order to minimize any stress to the plant.
The choice of growing medium is important when dealing with seedlings and young clones. It must provide the young plant with water and Oxygen in adequate quantities, while not allowing it to become waterlogged. Drainage is very important at this time and the porous growing mediums have excellent properties in this area. Perlite, Vermiculite and Rockwool all offer great drainage properties together with the major advantage, in the case of Rockwool, of coming in nice little cubes with holes in for your seeds. The beauty of these cubes is that they can be transplanted straight into larger Rockwool cubes or other mediums as the seedling grows, thus cutting down on the plantís stress and on the transplanterís time.
It is better to plant the germinated seeds in a medium with a built in weak nutrient and to add water only. When the seedlings are established you can then start them in a weaker version of your normal nutrient and gradually increase the strength until you are running at normal strength nutrient. This system can be ongoing, with germinating seeds being brought on at regular intervals to replace plants that have reached their fruiting stage and been cropped.
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