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This morning I was reading some replies to a different topic (on Media) that started me thinking about seed starting...plus it is the seed starting time of year.  TCLynx was saying that she uses peat pots for her cucumbers to start them in a more favorable pH environment.  Hmmm...never thought of that.  Raychel is using coconut fiber she shreds from her own coconut trees!  I think John Thompson uses pearlite.  Can you guys expand on your techniques?

I'm a big fan of Rapid Rooter peat / latex sponges, largely for their convenience and because I have a supply left over from experiments with the company who makes them from years gone by.  They do a great job with most seeds but I find, however,  that they don't do well with large seeds.  I need to try another technique...maybe vermicompost?  What is your advice?

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I'm using mostly peat pellets to start seeds for planting into Nate's towers or for the cucumbers in the NFT (though I don't think the peat is really enough to counteract my high pH in my big system full of shells.)

I have used the regular small pellets for many things. I have also tested some of the extra big pellets that they sell for starting tomatoes. I used them to start some Nasturtium and cucumbers that are in some of the towers on my 300 gallon system.

Will see what works best.

When planting in my gravel beds, I usually just direct seed though I will often start really slow plants like peppers in cups on wicks in the NFT.
we use the gordon cubes (rockwool) that we seed. the cubes are laid into a boot mat (buy at walmart, take your boots off and leave them in this shallow pan so the mud doesn't go anywhere) We built a ramp that we attached a water pump to that is on a timer. the cubes are automatically watered 4 times a day for about 15 minutes, the water comes directly out of the raft, and then flows back into the raft. the entire setup is located underneath a grow light and there are a couple of warming pads underneath the cubes also.

i will try to upload some pictures if anyone is interested
I've been meaning to post a picture of what I did the other day. I've been using a few methods of germinating seeds, and was curious just how well my grow beds would work for this. So I actualy took a few tomato seeds [my own Dano's best early] and turned my back on the system and threw the seeds over my shoulder at the grow beds, and WeeDoggies! two of them popped up and are growing fine. I've also found Lima beans need to be germinated in a wet paper towel in a plastic baggy first, some just wont pop any other way.
Jessica
What I do is schuck the coconut with a pick, break it into small stips lengthwise, and throw those into the chipper shredder. The product is very fine fibers. I usually cut these with garden sizzors. There is a lot of fine dust this I mix with vermiculite. I put the fibers in the botton of the net pot and put the fine on top of that. I mix the fine dust with water before putting it in the pot.
I'm cheap and lazy when I start seeds out. I take a newspaper. Wet it. Open it up. Sprinkle the seeds in. Close it back up and stick it in the oven for a few days. The oven is off of course. :P After a couple of days I pick the strongest seedlings and plant them.
I've done something similar but usually with paper towel and a ziplock on top of the fridge (don't dare put it in the oven or the cook would start pre heating without checking first.)


Chi Ma said:
I'm cheap and lazy when I start seeds out. I take a newspaper. Wet it. Open it up. Sprinkle the seeds in. Close it back up and stick it in the oven for a few days. The oven is off of course. After a couple of days I pick the strongest seedlings and plant them.
Great Discussion Sylvia, for some strange reason I've been intimidated about this process. Up to now I've been using potting soil in small containers, washing the maturing roots, and transplanting into the AP beds, but i do know that this is labor intensive, and would like to try different methods. I like your method Raychel, using coconut fibers especially since I'm running a trial with fibers as FD media. Any experience you have with the use of fibers will be most appreciated.
For planting in Gravel beds, big seeds are easy to simply plant right in the gravel and I've been having really good luck with stuff like broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, and other related plants seeded or sprinkled right in the gravel.
I do the same thing with small seeds that I would normally direct sow into the dirt garden, like salad greens, radishes and carrots. Murray has a great looking seeding technique on his Secrets video. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like it could be a good way to go
How deep do you both sow in the beds, if at all? I assume this goes with the regular 15-20 minute cycle

TCLynx said:
For planting in Gravel beds, big seeds are easy to simply plant right in the gravel and I've been having really good luck with stuff like broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, and other related plants seeded or sprinkled right in the gravel.
The little seeds I often just sprinkle over the top but sometimes I'll make a little trench and put a layer of gravel over them. Both seem to have been working. I planted peas deeper but not as many have come up yet.

Some beds I have constant inflow and they drain by pump on float or siphon. Other beds are getting flooded for 9 minutes per hour or 9 minutes per half hour depending on if I have 3 or 6 beds on that valve.
Thanks for the lesson TCLynx, I'll give that trench and sprinkle a go.

TCLynx said:
The little seeds I often just sprinkle over the top but sometimes I'll make a little trench and put a layer of gravel over them. Both seem to have been working. I planted peas deeper but not as many have come up yet.

Some beds I have constant inflow and they drain by pump on float or siphon. Other beds are getting flooded for 9 minutes per hour or 9 minutes per half hour depending on if I have 3 or 6 beds on that valve.

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