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How do you start seeds for garden in indoor aquaponics system?

Hello everyone,

I would like to start some tomatoes, green peppers and petunias for outdoors in our indoor aquaponic system.  How do you recommend starting the seeds.  I was thinking of using some plastic cups with holes cut in them so the water can get in and out and then just pull the cups.  But what should I use in the cups?

1. I could use left-over media in the cups, but media is expensive.  

2. Iwas thinking of using peat pellets in the cups, would these be too wet?  

3. Vermicompost is also an interesting idea, However I think it might dissolve out of the cup.

I'd like to be able to pull the cups and just plant the plants in the garden.



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I have directly placed the seeds in the bed with nothing else.  This has worked recently but I did have problems in the past.

Some seeds I have pre-soaked, peas, beans and pepper seeds.

Others I placed right in the bed, lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli.

When I place in the bed directly I spray the surface 1x a day when dark for 4 days then let go.  Beans and peas I soak for 24 hours then place in a damp paper towel till they sprout and then place in the bed.  Pepper seeds I soak for about 3 hours in hydrogen peroxide and then plant.

I really have to say the key to the success was the lights.  Everything often sprouted but was leggy and week and would fall over and die with damaged stalks.  Once I got lights right down on top of the seed area the plants have been great

Here is a small bed that I planted seeds in on Jan 2nd.

Thank you John,  Is the bulb on the left an LED or CFL?  Have you had good results with the spiral CFLs?  Have you transplanted from the aquaponics system to a good old fashioned dirt garden?



All the bulbs are CFL's.  Daylight 13watt 6500k I just made them using Vase light kits that were certified for CFL use.  I would recommend domes on them just because of the risk of breaking and mercury spill in the bed but this was just for testing.

Planting in dirt is actually my goal.  I have a start up Sauce/Salsa business and living in the North East it is hard to get a good growing season for my habanero's.  Last year was a bust (50 plants and only 5 produced fruit ), raw materials are expensive to make the sauces and plants are even more expensive.  If I can grow from my own seed stock I can get far more plants from one pepper than I could afford from buying plugs or seedlings.  I want to start the seeds in ap and move them to soil.  In the back we have the tomatoes that would right now cost almost $7.99 a plant that came from 1 tomato off a plant last season.  Habaneros are buried under it all and growing well.  I have 4 months left before I can plant in ground but I am well ahead of where I would be in 4 months.  I will leave the AP for creating stock plants or seed production and personal use.

As for the lights, I was using grow lights and my plants were awful and weak, leggy.  The spiral CFL's have worked great.  Very low heat as long as the plants do not touch the bulbs.  They are very bright and you may want to surround the bed with mylar to keep the light in and to keep the family from going blind.
bcp said:

Thank you John,  Is the bulb on the left an LED or CFL?  Have you had good results with the spiral CFLs?  Have you transplanted from the aquaponics system to a good old fashioned dirt garden?



Hi bcp,

You can also use 1/4 pea gravel (quartz river rock) or coir which can be bought in blocks. The weight won't be much of a factor with the gravel because of the small amount you'd be using. These are also low cost alternatives.

Sometimes aquaponics is not the answer.  (gasp) I know, I said it.

Just start as you usually would and us tank water if it makes you feel better.

Thanks Harold, I think I'm going to give coir a try in pots.  Just fill the pots with coir and burry them in the expanded shale media beds and let them go from there.  I appreciate what you're saying Mathew about aquaponics not being the answer, but I used all the seed starting lights I had when I built the aquaponic system.  Also, I tend to forget to water plants or over water plants.  That's one of the reasons I switched to aquaponics.

People recommend using coir and vermicompost together as well. You can start seeds in pots and trays, or like John said, you can sow directly into your media.

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