seed germination

Effective Germination

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Effective Germination

Effective Germination

Of course, there are two main ways of producing new plants with differing variations. We can either use seed germination or take cuttings. Taking cuttings ensures that the mother plant is correctly cloned. Importantly, though, the key part of any germination method is having the correct conditions for either propagation or germination. Of course, to produce new and healthy plants,

The “radicle” is the first part of seed germination to develop. So, it is the embryonic root that will grow downward. This is the first thing that I can see when germinating my large avocado seeds in water. I actually grow these in a small glass of water that suspends the large seed halfway out of the top of the glass. Of course, this ensures that I can keep an eye on germination. So, the radicle is the first thing, followed by the real tap root. I then pot them up, and they turn into a nice houseplant. This is a great way to teach young people about growing things!

Next development

The next thing to start growing is the “hypocotyl” which is the embryonic axis that forms the seedling leaves, or “cotyledons.” In the case of my avocado, this can take a few weeks. Eventually the true leaves will appear, and the plant will grow away to reach the light source.

Typically, all seeds will eventually burst into life when the correct conditions are met. Good germination rates can be aided with experience from the gardener. For example, many seeds are hard-coated. This protects the seeds until the correct moisture levels are met. So, the grower can help this happen by putting the seed on a damp cloth or piece of tissue paper for the night. So, one good example of this is sweet peas.

Sweet peas must be soaked before planting in a warm seed tray with a potting mix or by using an hydroponic system.

new root of an Avocado seed
© Can Stock Photo / Barriolo82

Seeds can be helped along

Of course, in hydroponics, there are more up-to-date methods before sowing your valuable seeds. Many growers will soak hard-shelled seeds in a solution of water that includes a rooting stimulator. Such a product comes to mind as “Katana Roots.” Secondly, once the roots and sprouts appear, a specific plant food can be administered to aid instant growth. One that comes to mind is sold as “Shogun Start,” which contains very low levels of micronutrients that a young plant requires when first starting out.

You may have learned as a child that sprouting an avocado seed is simple. Purchase an avocado, savour its lush, green flesh, and then clean the seed. The top and bottom ends of the seed should be kept in mind. Next, insert many toothpicks into the seed’s equator and set the toothpicks on a glass of water so that the seed’s bottom inch is submerged.

You may have to be patent as rooting can sometimes take a while.

Since the seedling will still be indoors at this point, you can plant it anytime of the year.

Place the glass in a warm location away from direct sunshine, adding water as necessary to maintain the water level at the bottom inch of the seed. A seedling emerges after the development of its roots.

Of course, you should germinate your seeds in a warm and moist environment where possible. Most keen growers will purchase an electric propagator. These are not all that expensive these days and will ensure a good rate of success. You will still need to soak any hard seeds overnight, though. Most seeds, however, will germinate easily if soaked between damp tissue paper before planting.

In hydroponics many growers will use coco coir as a growing medium and rockwool cubes to plant on the germinated seeds in. These are accepted methods in many different fields of gardening these days.

sprouting seeds for chickens

Poultry Food from Hydroponics

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Poultry Food from Hydroponics

Poultry Food from Hydroponics

So I first read about this idea in a well-known Indian hydroponics blog! As a keeper of poultry, I found the story very interesting. Firstly, I am lucky enough to have a large lawn. This, of course, is more than enough greens for my chickens. When they eat the grass and clover, I simply move the coop to a fresh, green area. I am fortunate enough to use the “Eglu” chicken coops.

However, many chicken keepers only have the same run for their birds. So, this is soon eaten away, and the birds are usually scratching on the bare earth or any substance that the owner puts down as bedding. Of course, straw or wood chips of some sort. Poultry, like any other bird, thrives on greens of most kinds.

Greens are organic and full of protein!

Many poultry keepers will feed their birds green kitchen scraps, which is fine! However, it is possible to grow your chicken’s green feed hydroponically and at an inexpensive price. Feeding your chickens hydroponically grown greens will produce better quality eggs with nice, bright yellow yolks.

Hydroponic fodder is rich in protein, beta-carotene, trace elements, and enzymes. Sprouts can be easily grown in trays. In fact, about 2 kg of seeds can produce around 10 kg of edible chicken fodder. Plastic trays are available from your local hydroponics store. These trays come in many sizes. from the normal seed tray size to large trays for holding a number of plant pots. These can be used for growing the sprouting seeds.

chicken eating fresh greens
© Can Stock Photo / blackboard1965

Seeds suitable for sprouting include mung, alfalfa, and mustard. Different types of lentils and mung seeds are also good choices. The seeds are simply spread with water onto a layer of tissue paper. The seeds are then spread on top of the wet tissue and placed in a light, warm place. For continuity, this should be spread out over a period of time. A greenhouse would be a perfect growing environment. However, a window sill on a south or east window would be fine.

These sprouting systems will be mature in a little over a week. Importantly, this is also a good winter treat for your chickens, as well as a summer supplement.

Many plant growers and gardeners I know are also avid poultry keepers. The two go hand in hand. So it may just be worth thinking about growing some nutritious seeds hydroponically for your precious egg providers.

Cherry Tomatoes

Long Winter in 2021

Long Winter in 2021

Long Winter in 2021

So, this year has been a long cold winter. Especially for us growers who should be getting growing around this time of year. My own situation is that I have a heated greenhouse for my citrus trees. However it is too cold to move them outside onto a sheltered spot. Moving them gives me space to plant out my seedlings and prepare for the tomato plants into their final planting spot.

Accordingly, I have not yet planted my seeds and realise that I am running out of time. This year I have decided to try some different seed varieties. I love to grow the big size tomatoes that are generally very tasty and a good choice for summer salads (Thats if we get a summer this year?)

I am a great fan of watching “YouTube” videos and I think they offer some great advice. Especially the different choices of tomato seeds that I have never heard of before.

Kellogg’s Breakfast and F1 Super Mama

This year I will be trying five different varieties from Nickys Seeds. Consequently these will include the much raved about Kellogg’s breakfast and another heirloom variety the F1 Super Mama.

These seeds will be planted this time by using the soil-less method of “Rockwool Blocks” . These are only £7.50 for 150 blocks to sow your seeds into. Of course the seeds are then placed into the blocks singularly. Hence they are then covered with a small quantity of “vermiculite“. Vermiculite, can be bought in small or large quantities. However I prefer to buy the larger bags because this is something that is important when growing hydroponically.

The blocks are always to be pre-soaked before placing one seed in the centre hole. Some growers advise placing two seeds and then selecting the strongest seedling when they have germinated. However these seeds are very expensive any you only get ten seeds per packet. So to me you should just plant a single seed. The blocks are then placed into a tray of water until germination. I prefer to use a heated propagator unit for better results as long as the area where the seedlings will be grown on is also heated.

Dont forget the in this weather then rooms in houses can become very cold without any form of heating. I am sure that there will be growers pout their who have made this mistake in the past. Losing plants due to stress because of a drop in temperature in the middle of the night. When the seedlings have germinated they can be grown on to whatever system you prefer.

Auto Pot System

This year I am going to grow my larger crops using a flexi water tank that feeds an Autopot system . These systems come in many sizes but the nine pot system is ideal for my space in the greenhouse.

Once the system is set up it just a case of training your plants as they grow, (I prefer to use large canes). Water tank levels must be watched with the added A and B nutrients also added to the correct dose. This year I will try out CX Hydro base from Canada. So, when your plants start to grow you must remember to taking out any side shots, between the stem and the main branches.

Also remove any dead leaves and give the plants plenty of room to grow flowering buds for a good crop. All the products necessary to grow a good crop most plants are available online from “Hydrostore” in West Yorkshire.

rockwool germinating cubes

Starting my Seeds in Rockwool

Starting my Seeds in Rockwool

Starting my Seeds in Rockwool

As I write this post we are at the back end of March 2021. The winter here in the North of England has been on the cool side with the odd milder day. Much different to last year when we had only a couple of frosts in the whole of winter! Even my outside “Basjoo Banana” plant survived with some of its leaves in tact.

However as I have said this winter was to be much colder. As you probably know then I have been growing most things all my life. Including, my favourite fruit the tomato’s. Now in my later years then I am trying out more difficult plants to grow and perhaps survive the English winter. Including, pot grown figs, lemons and other types of citrus trees and pomegranates.

The secret is keeping them over wintered!

Introduction to Hydroponics

My son in law works for a local Hydroponics store and since then I am becoming fascinated by the hydroponics method of growing things such as salads and herbs. This also includes tomatoes, of which I have successfully grown a full crop in the last growing year. So, this year will be my very first venture growing some different lettuce types starting of with rockwool cubes to germinate my seeds.

Rockwool is the stuff that is used in loft insulation to insulate our homes from the cold and is made out of highly heated molten rocks. This sounds strange but the rocks are heated until they melt and the resulting molten rock is spun to make the wool type threads. I suppose that it must look like molten volcanic rock when flowing down a volcano!

In fact it was first discovered around 1850 on the “Mauna Loa Volcano” on the island of “Hawaii”. Importantly, the use of rockwool for insulating buildings was first used in 1935.Followed by other uses including a great product for growing seedlings.

Rockwool stores water and oxygen

So, the rockwool cubes that we buy to start off our seedlings are perfect because they store enough water while providing oxygen to the newly planted seeds. Of course here in the UK we have just put our clocks forward for British summer time and the growing season “begins in earnest”. This week will bring our first daily temperature of over 20c. I cant wait to get started with my first ever planting of lettuce seed in the rockwool cubes. The ones I purchased were the SBS Grodan Cubes. So these cubes are 1.5 by 1.5 blocks in a 77 plug tray. Perfect for my requirements.

The cubes look a perfect size to me but you can cut them up smaller if you want t save money. I bought mine from the local “Hydroponics store” in nearby Wakefield. Before the seeds are sewn I will soak the correct number of plugs in water for a few minutes, before draining them after the soaking for a further 15 minutes. This gets rid of any excess water there may be in the plugs (cubes).

Sowing the seeds is just the same as in any sort of growing medium! A little tricky depending on the size of the seed, especially tiny lettuce seeds. I would normally just scatter lettuce seeds onto a tray of compost and then prick out the newly grown seedlings. However by taking a little time once the seeds are placed in the centre of the plugs then there is no need for any pricking out the seedling and causing the plants to stress.

Using a cocktail stick

Tiny seeds such as lettuce can be spread out on a piece of tissue paper for better observation and easier handling. So, I am then going to use a tooth pick or cocktail stick (Same thing), to ease a seed into the hole in he centre of the rockwool plug. When the seeds are all positioned then I will spray with a little water to moisten the seeds. I will then place a little “vermiculite” on top of the plug hole to seal the seeds inside.

The next stage will be to place the seeds in a tray and in a propagator for germination and then onto the next stage which I will cover in the next blog. The propagators come in many shapes and sizes and are available online at your local Hydrostore here in Yorkshire UK.