Saturday, 22 February 2014

Seed Starting for Aquaponics using Coconut Coir and Vermiculite

A great way to start your seeds is to use a mix of coconut coir and vermiculite. (This topic is covered in more depth in our workshops). Using this combination is less expensive than buying starter plugs and the coir lignin has the added benefits of "suppressing root rot diseases like pythium and phytothora" (Michael Staumietis of Advanced Nutrients,  July 18, 2008 edition of “American Chronicles”)

How To Create The Mix:
  1. Soak the coir brick in water to expand it
  2. Rinse thoroughly for 5 minutes after soaking
  3. Mix with vermiculite (7 parts coir / 2 parts vermiculite)
  4. Optionally add vermicompost if you have some from your worms
Planting your seeds:
  1. Moisten the mixture so it sticks together when squeezed
  2. Place the 72 cell insert into the propagation tray 
  3. Fill the cells with the mixture (lightly packing it down)
  4. make indentations in the media for the seed
  5. place seeds in the indentation and cover over the indentation
  6. cover with the plastic dome to create the greenhouse effect
  7. make sure temperature is adequate for seed starting (you can use a temperature controlled mat if necessary)
  8. Make sure the tray always has around 1/4 inch of nutrient rich water from your system in it. You may have to top it up once or twice due to evaporation.
  9. To ensure your seedlings have strong roots, you should also supplement the nutrient solution with phospherous.
Within 48 hours you should see germination. Once they germinate, you need to make sure they're getting light. They will be leggy if they don't get enough light right away. When the third leaf appears (the first 2 leaves are the cotyledons or embryonic leaves) the seedlings will need nutrients, so make sure the tray has nutrient rich water from your system in it.

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