STARTING SEEDLINGS FOR YOUR HYDROPONIC GARDEN

Now, for the really easy, keep-it-simple, jump-start method for starting seedlings for your hydro project!

It's happened to me... there you are, strolling through the garden section on a warm spring day (with all the other Walmart Warriors).

walmart garden shoppers




Just lookin' for seed packets... what a variety...

Then it happens... you glance over at the vegetable seedlings. Nice fat, juicy plump seedlings... hmmm...

Hard to pass by, right? Well, you can actually start your hydroponics garden from store-bought plants! From Home Depot directly into your hydro setup. Save weeks and create an instant garden.

store-bought seedlings

   Starting Seedlings:
   Disadvantages to Store-bought

  • More expensive than seed. If you are looking to make your hydro garden cost-effective, this is not the way to go.
     
  • All the textbooks tell you to never use store-bought seedlings for hydroponics. Must be a reason...
     
  • Limited varieties. Seeds open up a vast world of interesting and tasty cultivars. With seedlings, you are limited to what they have on the shelf that day.
     
  • Danger of pest infestation. Bugs spread faster in a plant nursery than a kindergarten class! Aphids in particular run rampant, and they are really hard to see, so you bring them home without even knowing it.
big fat aphid

  • The dreaded plague! There are also viruses and soil-borne diseases which you could infect your entire garden with. Some which may be difficult to eradicate.
     
  • Some plants do not "rough transplant" well. They don't survive the root rinsing necessary for this method. Plants which do well for this: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower.
     
  • Plants which do not take kindly to their roots being rinsed off: Beans, peas, lettuce, herbs, squash, melons. Starting seedlings from seed are best with these crops.

Hey there! If you stumbled onto this page looking for information on planting seeds for hydroponics, go back to this page: Hydroponic Seeds.

   Starting Seedlings:
   Simon's Simple Seedling System


After giving the hearty lecture above extolling the virtues of starting seedlings from seeds instead of transplants, I have a confession to make. We use store-bought seedlings all the time!

And if you decide to try nursery seedlings, then follow Simon's System:

safe pesticides

  1. Buy a spray bottle each of:

    * Safer Brand Insecticidal Soap
    - Safer's is the standard in organic pest control; derived from potassium salts, it's biodegradable and environmentally safe. It kills many varieties of soft-bodied insects.

    * Garden Safe Brand Houseplant and Garden Spray (or any brand of Pyrethrin). Pyrethrin is made from chrysanthemums, and is off also a very safe and environmentally friendly spray.

  2. Before you ever even take your new seedlings into the grow room, put them in the sink and literally saturate them with each spray, letting them dry between the two sprays. Make sure to reach the upper and lower sides of all the leaves, stems, everything. Hopefully by now you have completely de-loused them!
     
  3. Ready to transplant? Break off the peat pots or carefully pull the seedlings from the plastic beds. Continue one at a time so the roots don't dry out.
     
  4. Gently remove most of the soil from the root ball, trying to keep as much root intact as possible.
     
  5. Hold the roots under warm running water and rinse away almost ALL of the soil. You can leave a little blob of it, but not much, or it will drain into your vat of nutrients. And you don't want mud in there.
     
  6. Dig a little hole in the hydro pot medium, insert the root ball and shore up the plant with medium. Might take a little propping til they "take root" in their new home.


That's all there is to Simons secret system for starting seedlings. Chances are excellent that if you follow this procedure, you will not bring any bugs into your hydroponics grow room.


But listen, once you have some healthy plants growing, there's an even easier way to propagate new baby plants than going to Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon.

Learn all about Cloning Plants here.

   Starting Seedlings:
   What About Plant Diseases?

If you are starting seedlings from transplants bought in a nursery, you are risking bringing home some unsavory viruses and fungal diseases. Your best protection is to buy disease-resistant varieties of plants.

This might take a little research on your part. So make a preliminary visit to the plant nursery and jot down the names and variety of each plant you have your eye on. If they are not labeled as disease-resistant, then you will have some online homework to do before you buy.

VFN label on seeds

What you want to do is choose varieties bred to resist certain diseases. You can tell which are disease-resistant by looking carefully at plant tags for initials such as "VFN," which mean the plant is resistant to Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt, and root-knot nematodes.  This is what it looks like on a seed packet.

Honestly, we couldn't figure out what ASC and ST stand for. If you know, please drop us an e-line.

For more in-depth information on seed selection and disease resistance, visit: Vegetable Garden Seeds.

UH-OH!

If after taking the above precautions, you begin to see bugs or notice yellowing or wilted leaves, please visit our  Pests & Plagues section.


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