Main Factors Required for Successful Germination.
- Moisture: Keep the seeds moist, but not soaking, until the taproot sprouts.
- Temperature: Keep the seeds in a warm place, think spring conditions. Seeds will germinate faster in warmer conditions. The ideal conditions for germination is 26-28ºC and about 70% relative humidity.
- Peace: Seeds take time to germinate so it is best to just leave them alone until taproot appears. There is no need to flip or rotate the seeds.
- Be Gentle: Be very careful when handling the seed after the first taproot sprouts. It is very delicate and can snap off very easily, killing the seed.
There are many different methods used to germinate seeds. You can use whatever method you are most comfortable with, but I will cover one of the easier methods in this section. I will cover how to germinate one seed with Rockwool.
*Rockwool is the material of the grow plug included with your Mary grow kit.
Paper Towel Method
- 2 dinner plates
- Paper towel (the cheaper the better if it is too porous the seeds can start to root in the towel).
- Spray bottle filled with room temperature water.
- Rockwool Propagation plugs. Rockwool is the material of the grow plug included with your Mary grow kit.
- Propagation Tray and dome.
- One CFL or LED grow lamp or equivalent.
Step 1 - Set Up:
Place a damp piece of paper towel down using one of your plates as a base. Place the seed on the moist paper towel and then cover with second piece of moist paper towel.
Step 2 - Start Germination:
To prevent light from reaching the seed, you will now cover your first plate with your second, creating a dome, and position it out of direct light. Alternatively, you can place the paper towel in a ziplock bag and put it in a warm place with no direct sunlight.
Step 3 - Monitor:
This part requires patience. You will need to check on the seed to make sure the towel is still damp. If you notice it is drying out, use the spray bottle to mist it back to the desired moisture level. Seeds will normally sprout a *taproot in about 1-4 day,s but the older or harder the seed is, may cause it to take up to a week or more.
*What is a taproot? A Taproot is a large central root that is used to stabilize the plant as well as the base for other laterally growing roots to branch off of as the plant grows and nutrient requirements increase. The first root to emerge from the seed will be taproot and can be described as a little white tendrel.
Step 4 - Prepping your Rockwool:
Once you observed the taproot starting to emerge from the seed, you will need to prepare your Rockwool in your tray. To prepare your Rockwool, you will need to soak the plug in a small bucket filled with pH adjusted water (5.5pH) for about 2 hours. Next you will want to prepare a nutrient solution using Week #1 from the Nutrient Mixing Guide.
*you can make less than 13 litres of the solution for this step by using the same ratios. Nutrient solutions should be pH balanced after the nutrients have been mixed in to the water.
After soaking the Rockwool for 2 hrs in water, soak the plugs in the nutrient solution you just created for 10-15 mins. After this short second soak, you are ready to place the plugs in the tray. Before you place the Rockwool plug in your tray, it is best to give them a good shake to get rid of excess water, but do not squeeze them like a sponge because that can damage the internal structure of the plug. You will also want to pour some of the nutrient solution you have mixed into the bottom of the tray to over the Rockwool plug to maintain the moisture level. When germinating seeds less is more when it comes to nutrient levels.
WARNING! Rockwool is very fibrous and when handing it can become airborne so it is recommended to use a dust mask to help protect you.
Step 5 - Transplant:
Now it's time to transplant the germinated seeds into your Rockwool plug. You will want to transplant the seed when the taproot is just piercing the shell. Use the hole provided in the plug and gently push the seeds approximately ½” down with the taproot facing down. Once you have transplanted the seed into the plug, you can then place it back into the tray. When finished, spray the inside of your dome with water, close all vents on dome, and place over tray.
Step 6 - Sprouting:
Keep checking on your tray to look out for your first signs of seedlings. They will emerge from the plug on a small light green stalk with two smooth leaves. Additionally, you will need to maintain the moisture levels inside the dome and of the Rockwool plugs to promote growth. It is recommended to spray the inside of the dome with water as needed to maintain the humidity levels inside the dome. If the humidity gets too low, the air will start to pull the moisture from your plugs and seedlings potentially killing your plants. Secondly, you will need to keep the Rockwool plugs moist by using the same strength nutrient solution from Step 4.
Step 7 - Setting up Propagation:
Once your seedling has sprouted, you will need to place a CFL or LED light above the tray to promote growth. Keep the light about 2-6” above the plants and have the lights on for 24hours per day. It is very important that the light does not give off too much heat as this may overheat the tray damaging the plants. As a simple test hold your hand under the light at your desired distance. If it's too hot for you it will be too hot for your plants!
Alternatively you can place them by a window but be careful of direct sunlight as it will raise the internal temperature of the domed tray and may cause it to dry out faster. Be very careful to maintain the 24hours of light at this stage.
Pictured below: Andrew’s set-up for propagation. It may be more advanced than what you would use at home but the same principles apply.
Step 8 - Maturing Your Seedling:
Keep checking on the progress of you seedling maintaining the moisture levels of the tray and dome. Now that you have seedlings, when you go to rehydrate the plugs you can now use a ¼ strength nutrient solution at a pH of 5.5-6.5pH or continue to follow the directions on your nutrient chart provided with your nutrients. For beta growers using the powdered nutrients provided with the Mary, you can read more about nutrient mixing HERE.
Once you see the first set of jagged adult leaves, this signifies the plants transition from seedling to vegetative state. During this stage you will want to start hardening up your plants by leaving the dome off for around 5-10 minutes at a time spraying the tops of the plants with water so they don't get too dry. Additionally you will now switch your light to 20hour on, 4hour off cycle.
Step 9 - Let Mary Take Over:
Once your plants have started to produce more sets of adult leaves and you can see established roots poking out of the bottom of the plug, it is now time to transplant them into your mesh pot provided. To fill up the extra space at the bottom of your mesh pot you can use a second Rockwool plug to help create more stability for your plant as it continues to grow. Once you have transplanted your rooted, vegetative plant into the mesh pot, it is now time to put it in your Mary. Start by preparing your Nutrient solution - you will use this to fill the water tank of the Mary.
Once your plant is in place, you can simply start the grow in the Mary app and it will guide you from there. Best of luck and happy growing!
Mary AG Lead Grower.