Aquaponic Gardening

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How to start plants and when to place them in media


I am a newbie here so please forgive me if these questions have been asked before. I was wondering about two questions. First, what is the best way  to start my plants from seeds. Is it advised to start plants in soil first and then transfer them to the media or is there some other technique I am not aware of? Second, how big should the plant be before I place them in media? I assume if they are too small they will drown or wash away...

I live in New York City in a small apartment so I don't have a lot of outdoor space to start plants.

Thanks in advance and for this great community!


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I was able to plant lettuce directly into my media and it did just fine.  Kale and Cucumber did just OK but lettuce is a good place to start

Hi Susanne,

Thank you for your reply. I have been reading more since I last posted this question. It appears that a lot of plants can just go right into the media bed. Apparently, tomato cuttings can just be added and do quite well. I guess I was wondering about starting from seeds. Won't they just get washed down into the fish tank? Did you start your lettuce from seeds or were they already somewhat mature?


Suzanne Hayes said:

I was able to plant lettuce directly into my media and it did just fine.  Kale and Cucumber did just OK but lettuce is a good place to start

I tried this and it worked great. As long as the plant is large enough to stand up on its own in the gravel then you should be fine. I think I had an issue with some of my plants where the gravel cooked in the sun and got scalding hot and hurt some smaller seedlings so keep that in mind and of course temp concerns. So season considerations are pretty obvious but, as Suzanne said, many seeds can be just tossed in (I was very successful with sunflower seeds that way). Good Luck!!

I'm new as well so I'm experimenting different ways of doing it.  I started my cucumbers and tomatoes in dirt and then put them in the media but it seems to take longer because they seem to go into shock, plus they take a while to adjust to the different location and it takes forever for the roots to reach the water.  My lettuce died that way. So I put the seeds  straight into the pots and they seem to grow faster, get their roots down faster and don't have to adjust to the sun.  I have a question: my plants are growing well, the roots are forming well but they don't seem to be green enough. Is there some kind of organic fertilizer I can use that won't hurt the fish?  I have been feeding my fish sushi kelp sheets and they just love it. Would that help since kelp is a fertilizer?

Hi All,

Thank you for your helpful replies. I decided to just spread some seeds on top of the media and they have started germinating without any issues so far... I don't know what the long term effects will be but they seem pretty happy. @ Angela Nickel, on my shelf I have an unopened bottole of supplemental feed used in hydroponics from Dyna-Gro called Liquid Grow Plant Food 7-9-5. I haven't used it yet because I am a bit suspicious about the knowledge of the hydroponic store owner who sold it to me. He said it won't hurt the fish but reading the ingredients I see it has Boron Chlorine, Cobalt, Copper, Zinc, Iron etc. I don't think there are fish in the world who like swimming in that... Does anyone here have any advice on this or should we take this thread to a different topic?

Thanks again for all the support!


use your system water to water the seedlings.

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