Starting Seeds/Seedlings can definitely be done on your own but it requires some very important infrastructure if you are going to get the results you desire. You will need a structure of some kind to protect these seedlings. Whether its a simple hoop house or a fully environmentally controlled greenhouse, you absolutely NEED to keep those fragile babies protected.
- Refer to the previous blog post for starting method options, With the exception of the aeroponic cloner, the same pros & cons apply to germinating seedlings.
- A good rule of thumb to follow when sowing seeds is to stay in the top third of the plug media (max ¾” for nursery pots).
- Sow too deep and light will not penetrate to orient germination. This means it can either take an extremely long time for your seeds to break the surface, or they will die before they are able to.
- Sow too shallow and risk seeds loathing out when watering, drying out the delicate germinating root cell before it can establish itself.
- If you don’t have much propagation experience, enlist it! Inexperienced farmers can suffer significant losses during the germination stage. We have seen farmers lose anywhere from 50-90% of their stock due to poor germination techniques.
- Equally, we DO NOT recommend direct seed sowing. On average, direct sowing will result in 25-50% loss due to irrigation, the elements, or tasty (expensive) bird feed. Achieving anything resembling a specific spacing (4×4, 5×5, etc.) is virtually impossible thereby compromising yield/acre.
- As with clone starts, target the soil consistency of a moist brownie. Sort of middle-of-the-road for moisture.
- If it is in a media-based system you do not want it to get wet and muddy, and not dry and dusty. Right in the middle.
- If it’s a pre-formed plug (peat or rockwool), you never want it to dry out completely where it has little/no weight; and you don’t want it dripping wet.
The potential good is that if you are experienced with germination, and you do have the facility to get them going, this is by FAR the most cost effective and highly productive method. Trusting that you will achieve the inherent potential germination rate of the seed can give you the confidence to purchase close to exactly how many seeds you need to buy on the front end. Germinating your own seedlings also affords the opportunity for some minor phenotype hunting/selection as well! You get the opportunity to pick through some of the runts and weaklings to only the biggest and baddest plants make it to the field.
In the next entry we’ll cover
Outsourcing Propagation & Proliferation with an external facility