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 Post subject: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 11th, '17, 12:26 
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Only when I speak to visitors do I understand how much I've learnt about AP over the last year. The whys and wheres of the hardware, water quality, seasons, fish and veggies. Yet even though I've built a couple of systems, harvested fish and veg I find there's always something new to learn and explore.

Now it's time for seeds - how and what medium to germinate them in so they can be easily and without too much disturbance be incorporated into the AP systems. Initially I purchased most seedlings from the garden supplies and although I got a head start and instant gratification seeing all those little plants populating the GBs I knew that down the track I'd be exploring ways of germinating seeds from plants and packets.

I have read and seen videos of various germinating techniques and I'm conducting my own experiments to find ways of raising plants to seedling size and would be grateful for others to contribute their experiences.


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File comment: In seed raising mix in trays in mini green houses
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File comment: Early days in scoria fines on the Sy 1 GB
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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 11th, '17, 14:20 
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Hi Pete,

I use a brewer's heat pad with a tray of water on top and then sit my growing media in a mini hot house similar to yours above the water tray.

The heat pad keeps the water at 23C, 24/7 and as long as I keep the water topped up and an occasional mist spray on the growing media the seeds germinate pretty well.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 11th, '17, 17:26 
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Yeah, water seems to be an issue.
I made metal frames for the mini GH roofs so they wouldn't blow off then found the heat would suck the water from the soil, condensate on the plastic then run down the outside of the box eventually emptying the water.
I lifted one long edge to help with air circulation then the slugs moved in, snacking at night and hiding under the tray during the day. I could improve the design but it's easier to use Wifeys glass house.

What sort of media do you use Joblow?

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 11th, '17, 19:38 
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I use 50% Coir Block mixed with 50% of Seed Raising Mix or just 100% Seed Raising Mix If I don't have any Coir Block, I have used Vermiculite and Perlite for media in the past but found that if I didn't clean it off the roots it finished up floating around in the system so I stopped using it.

To help germinate the seeds I dilute one part of Wood Vinegar with 200 parts water then soak the seeds for 24 hours.


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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 11th, '17, 21:10 
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Hi Pete,

I just go with seedling mix and seedling trays. Mine sit under mircojets for 1min twice per day.
I did this originally for native tree seedlings and simply threw in a couple of trays for vegies. Found the veg seedlings are not so easy to pull from the stiff tree trays so I then used old Bunnings plastic seed trays (the slightly larger 4-6 cell ones and the larger potted colour type ones are very good).

I like raising some things to seedlings (ie. about same as you buy for $2 from Bunnings) as I feel that the seedlings establish faster in seedling mix and they transplant to AP pretty easily (just rinse roots of dirt as for any other seedling and recycle the potting mix). I actually grew coriander faster in that setup and worked well for tomatoes of various types.

I grow mine outside as-is on a rack... warm enough here in WA to grow outside in full morning sun.

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used to catch the drip/excess water in an IBC lid at bottom and grow duckweed in it.
But you could set up a recirculating system along same lines pretty easy.

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I could grow 400 Tree seedlings in this setup no problem.
And simply started using it for vegie seeds after that.
(it is currently round the side awaiting redeployment in the "AP area" after pressure from the one that knows best... apparently it was too ugly to stay in the main patio area where the morning sun is ideal, and the main patio table is not for storing seed trays etc...).

This would work as a scaled up version of your little hot house and produce heaps of seedlings and even carry a few plants / herbs.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '17, 05:28 
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Good idea Darren, if only everyone was on board. Maybe a heliostat around the side would work.

I've mainly used seed raising mix in those large trays and planted seeds every inch then when about 4" tall pinched the dirt/root ball out and dipped into a bucket of AP water not massaging just dipping to minimise damage. This is not ideal as I think it's like a diet change as well as physical change.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '17, 20:05 
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cant say I have had too much issue and I am definitely not careful.

pretty much the way I plant any seedlings I get from Bunnings when I get really lazy or see something different.

I like it best when they are slightly root bound and pop out quite easily. Then I tease the roots while washing the dirt off.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 15th, '17, 00:55 
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I have tried using pea stone sized gravel in a tray filled with AP water to sprout plants, didn't seem to work too well... not sure why... might be I'm not getting enough light in the greenhouse because my tomato plants were so thick it was blocking all the light so plants just got leggy then died. I thinned the tomato plants a lot so we'll see if it helps.

I have had good luck starting seeds directly in my peastone AP bed, but not a good way to keep track of what is what so I'm playing with other ideas.

I tried starting seeds directly in my DWC raft bed using rockwool with mixed success... half of them seemed to do well, the other half didn't germinate.

I have a tray of potting soil that I set on top of another tray so the bottom of the top tray just barely touches water in the bottom tray to let it wick water up, thinking maybe it would help the roots grow faster if they could sense there is more water down below... so far not looking like it's any better than just keeping the soil moist.

I bought a seedling heat mat but I haven't tested anything with it yet, my air temps are still 70-80F in my greenhouse right now (I did see one or two days that dropped to about 65F but we're back up in the 70-80F range again so running some tests without the heat mat so I have something to compare to when I do test with the heat mat).

Right now I have some romaine cos lettuce seeds that I planted in some sponge cubes as recommended by dasboot, I decided to start some in rockwool at the same time to see how the methods compare side by side. I should have started a new tray in seed starting dirt at the same time, but I'll probably start some more tests in the next few days and add the heat mat and run multiple tests side by side...

I'm at the point now I really need to get seeds going every week so I'll be able to harvest most of the winter as we're starting to cool off.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 16th, '17, 07:26 
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The latest method I'm trying is Borlotti Beans in scoria in AP water. They are sitting in net cups in an inverted cake lid, the idea is to minimize disturbance and diet change. Some I'll remove from the nut cup to grow in the larger scoria GBs and others I'll put the cup directly into the Sy3 NFT tubes. I'm going to try other seeds in a new rectangle tray. Another good thing is they only need watering every 7-10 days at the moment.

Interestingly when they first sprouted two were upside down with the roots reaching for the sky powering on as though nothing was wrong, I flipped them over but not sure if the middle one will make it as their heads became slimy. I'll replace if need be.


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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 17th, '17, 18:12 
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I just use normal veggie garden soil with a bit of presoaked vermiculite stired into it.

This goes into 20 hole trays that I get at the cheap shop, 3 trays for $2

If I'm starting stuff early I use the little seedling greenhouses from aldi to keep them a bit more warm

Otherwise I start stuff directly in the gravel, works well for most things.

I'm not too fussy rinsing the roots beforre I plant them into the growbed, my toddler throws far worse stuff into the tank than a teaspoon of soil.


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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 20th, '17, 20:33 
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I checked the root growth a couple of days ago to find two of the seedlings had developed longish roots extending from the base of the net cups. I easily removed them and planted in sy3, checking on their progress there was no wilting they just seem to power on. :thumbright:


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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 25th, '17, 19:10 
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Since the success of my cake tray seed raising endeavour I decided to step it up a notch and found some local sheet metal guy to knock up a stainless steel tray 450 x 200 x 25 mm which holds 36 net pots. Amazingly he knew exactly what I was on about.
Prior to the cake tray I tried to grow lettuce in two spread jars inside my shed, one died off and was replaced with a snow pea and the other has since been removed and replaced with a bean. The water is from Sy1, I guess its CFSWC :shifty: .


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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 25th, '17, 20:52 
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maybe this is a good place to ask -- when is HOT too HOT for starting seeds? I've had pretty poor germination of seeds the past 2 weeks. I have not tested them in the paper towel method yet to see if they germinate, but I am wondering if maybe its just too darn hot yet for seeds to start. We've been 90-95F (32-35C) for the past week. My greenhouse typically stays 82F (27C), but I had seeds in the mini greenhouse trays inside my greenhouse, plus one I had put a heat pad under which claims to increase 10-15F above ambient, so it was probably HOT HOT HOT inside that seed tray. I have some lettuce seeds which I am testing sprouting in sponge cubes and rockwool side by side that are close to 2 weeks with no germination. I added a bunch of herbs a few days later and also some peas and cucs, the cucs germinated in a couple of days and I moved them out and up to where they got more sun (which now I noticed last night had dried out and were about dead so I stuck them in a growbed instead and they perked back up)... still no seeds germinating in my test cubes. I started a tray that I was going to try and do micro greens with and sprinkled a whole bunch of seeds over the entire tray and have about half a tray full of sprouts and the rest aren't sprouting. Is it too hot or do I need to test germinate them in a plastic bag and paper towel to see if they are just bad seeds?

Maybe I'll test sprout them in the air conditioned house at 74F (23C) instead and that might tell me if its just too hot in the greenhouse too I guess.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Sep 26th, '17, 05:47 
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Pete,

The stainless steel tray & net pots looks a winner :thumbright:

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 Post subject: Re: Seeds to Seedlings
PostPosted: Oct 2nd, '17, 18:48 
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Yeah Rob sometimes it just gets too hot in the glass house and you can see the seedlings have flopped over so giving them a drink opening the vents more and praying they'll come back to life works for me. The scoria and water seedlings don't have that same problem though as they have water on tap.
Bad or expired seeds are not that uncommon, I've wasted quite a bit of time with them.
Thanks Joblow.

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