Germinate seeds in
sterile soil (for planting outdoors) or a hydroponic medium of
rockwool or vermiculite. DO NOT (!) use a Jiffy cube #7 to
germinate seeds. Informal tests and experience show these peat
cubes do not work well and stunt the plants growth. Planting in
vermiculite gives the seedling so much oxygen, and are so easy
for roots to grow in, that the plants look large 1 week after
Keep them moist at
all times, by placing seeds in vermiculite filled 16oz cups with
holes in the bottom, placed in a tray of weak nutrient solution,
high in P. Rockwool cubes also work extremely well. When the
seed sprouts, place the rockwool cubes into larger rockwool
cubes. No repotting or transplanting, and no soil mixing!
You can germinate
seeds in a paper towel. This method is tricky; it is easy to
ruin roots if they dry out, or are planted too late after
germinating. Paper towels dry out REAL FAST! Place paper towel
in a bowl, saturated with weak nutrient solution (not too
much!), and cover with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
Put bowl in a warm area; top of the gas stove, water heater
closet, or above warm lamps. Cover with black paper to keep out
light. Check every 12 hours and plant germinated seeds with the
grow tip up (if possible) in a growing medium as soon as the
root coming out of the seed is 1/16" or longer. Use tweezers,
and don not touch the root tip.
little as possible by germinating in the same container you
intend to grow the plant in for a significant period of time.
Just plant in vermiculite or rockwool. You will be amazed at the
results! 90% germination is common with this method, as compared
to 50% or less with Jiffy Cubes. (Your milage may vary.)
5-55-17 plant food
such as Peters Professional will stimulate root growth of the
germinating seed and the new seedlings. Use a very dilute
solution, in distilled water, about 1/3 normal strength, and
keep temperatures between 72-80 degrees. Warm temperatures are
very important. Many growers experience low germination rate if
the temperatures are out of this range. A heating pad set to low
or medium may be necessary, or a shelf constantly warmed by a
light may do, but test it with a few seeds first, before
devoting next years crop to it. No light is necessary and may
slow germination. Cover germinating seeds with black paper to
keep out light. Place seedlings in the light once they sprout.
transplanting only once or twice before harvest. Use the biggest
containers possible for the space and number of seedlings you
plan to start. Plants will suffer if continuously transplanted
and delay harvesting. You will suffer too, from too much work!
13 2-liter plastic soda bottles filled with vermiculite/pearlite
will fit in a cat box tray, and will not require transplanting
for the first harvest, if you intend to grow hydroponically.
Transplant them for a second regenerated harvest.
Cut holes in the
bottom of containers and fill the last few inches at the top
with vermiculite only, to start seeds or accept seedling
transplants. Since vermiculite holds water well, wicks water
well, but does not hold too much water, roots always have lots
of oxygen, even if they are sitting in a tray full of water. A
hydrogen peroxide based plant food is used to get extra oxygen
to the plants when the pans are kept continuously full. The
water can be allowed to recede each time after watering, before
new solution is added. This allows the plants roots to dry
somewhat, and make sure they are getting enough oxygen.
brand potting soil, as it is excellent and sterilized. If you
insist on using dirt from the yard, sterilize it in the
microwave or oven until it gets steamy.(NOT RECOMMENDED)
Sterilize the containers with a bleach solution, especially if
they have been used a previous season for another plant.