Figuring out how to grow hydroponic produce doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just follow our step by step tutorial on how to grow hydroponic and you’ll by a master farmer in no time!
How To Grow Hydroponic – Seeds Vs. Seedlings
Most experts would recommend starting with hydroponic seeds rather than seedlings. By starting with seeds you’ll be in full control of what you grow. You can even experiment with your favorite type of produce or even best of the best heirloom varieties. Plus, you’ll experience the full joy and satisfaction of raising your crops from the very beginning. Starting from seeds will be a little tougher and take a little longer but the overall experience and satisfaction will more than make up for it.
- Seeds: You choose what you want to plant
- Seedlings: Choose what the store has
- Seeds: Trauma-free growth
- Seedlings: You must wash any soil from the roots which may cause damage
- Seeds: Keeping your hydroponics garden clean and sterile
- Seedlings: Potential to introduce bugs and disease to your hydroponics garden
- Seeds: Cost efficient – seed packs contain handfuls of seeds for only couple of dollars
- Seedlings: More expensive – each seedling can cost a couple of dollars
- Seeds: Satisfaction of growing something from nothing
- Seedlings: Its almost like cheating!
How To Grow Hydroponic – Hydroponic Seed Nursery
At the base level there are four main factors that go into sprouting a seed and how to grow hydroponic – oxygen, water, light, and temperature. Just give them what they need and let nature take over. The preferred method of controlling these four factors is by using a grow tray and dome to create a miniature greenhouse. Fill your tray with either pure, clean water, or a very weak, ½ strength nutrient solution, so that the water level goes up about ½” from the bottom of your starter cube, make sure there is ample light, and that you are able to keep the temperature between 75-90°. If you’re attempting to germinate your seeds in a cold basement, you might also want to think about using a heating mat to make sure your seeds are getting the necessary warmth they’ll need to sprout.
How To Grow Hydroponic – Starting your Hydroponic Seeds
Since you’ll be using rough, coarse growing mediums in your hydroponics garden like rocks and pebbles you’ll need a nice, secure environment to get your seeds going. Just like in traditional soil gardening, hydroponic seeds should be sprouted in a starter “pot.” You have a couple of options with the most popular being rockwool, or stonewool starter cubes. These are basically rocks that are heated to the point they start breaking down, stretched, then spun – imagine cotton candy but with rocks instead of sugar. These make great starters for your seeds as they are chemically inert, very inexpensive, and do a great job of transporting oxygen and water. There are a number of other options available that all work just fine, just remember to stay away from anything that might breakdown and clog your hydroponics system.
How To Grow Hydroponic – Germinating your Hydroponic Seeds
- Soak your starter cubes in pure, clean water for at least 1 hour and gently shake out any excess water.
- Carefully insert 2-4 seeds into each starter cube hole. You’ll want extras in case one or two seeds don’t sprout. In the event they all sprout you’ll be able to choose the strongest of the bunch by thinning out the weakest.
- Place starter cubes in your nursery.
- Alternatively, it is possible to germinate seeds using zip lock bags. After inserting your seeds, place each starter cube in a zip lock bag with a couple of drops of extra water. Seal the bag and place in a dark closet or shoebox for 3-5 days and your seeds should have sprouted and be ready to move to a grow tray.
- Continue to add either water or your diluted nutrient solution directly to your tray and you should start to see sprouts in just a couple of days.
- Once your seeds have sprouted you’ll want to gradually intensify your plant light by slowly moving your lighting a little closer each day until they’re no more than 6″ from your plants.
How To Grow Hydroponic – Transplanting your hydroponic seeds
- Continue to feed your seedlings with a properly mixed hydroponic nutrient solution
- Once your plants’ roots start to poke out from the bottom of your starter cube they are ready to transplant to your hydroponic system
- This can take up to 2-4 weeks depending on the type of plant
- Clear a small area in the growing media in your hydroponic system, transfer the entire starter cube, and gently cover
- Top water your newly transplanted plant with an appropriately mixed nutrient solution for the first couple of days to allow the root system to naturally search out its new water and nutrition source.
Congratulations! You now know how to grow hydroponic! If you’ve done everything properly you should be able to enjoy your first harvest 4-8 weeks after you transplant your seeds to your ZeroSoil Garden. Growing times will vary depending on the type of produce so don’t worry if you don’t have your bell peppers after only 4 weeks.