Aquaponic Gardening

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what should i use for starting seeds for floating raft for commercial use?

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i like using speedling trays. make it much easier. can get them cheap from groworganic.com i use 2" quite a bit. if you use a soil based or peet based starting soil you can just dunk them and gently rinse off prior to transplanting to netcups.

imma experiment with a recirculating system through a bed of medium perlite next.  im thinkin this way i can just fill the netcups with perlite and and seed them. the perlite should wick up some of the moisture from below then just transplant the netcup with no "re planting". would really speed things up a bit. might even try floating the speedlings with perlite medium with seeds planted directly. the fun thing about having your own aquaponics system is test test test. lol  have fun!

I use plugs made from International Horticulture, made from fir bark and a polymer binder, similar to rapid rooters. They cost 2.8 cents each, 392 per tray, and the trays (26"x 13") are heavy duty and last for many years. I get very near 100 percent germination, and my plugs pop out and fit directly into Beaver Plastics lettuce rafts, no media or mesh pot whatsoever. The finished produce can be sold live root, and their is no debrit to soil the packaging. These plugs may not qualify for organic certification, because of the polymer used to make the plugs spongy. Too bad, as it is no different than the plastics used in net pots.

I water them in a flood and drain bed, pretty simple.

@jon parr


i'll look into it

Thus far I've been able to get away with seeding directly into net pots. I pre-soak the media (hydroton) and have been using mostly pelleted seeds so far. This will keep otherwise small seeds from "falling between the cracks". I've done it this way many times on a small scale (no more than 100-150 plants or less), and have always had a really good germination rate, but I tend to 'baby' my seeds...hand watering and all that...I don't start them of directly in a DWC raft for fear of pythium and oomycetes. The day before yesterday I planted the first 328 of 1,260 seeds in this same manner. We'll see if it still works out. I'm not keen on transplanting that many seedlings.

Jon, those plugs sound like a no-nonsense way to get a serious amount of plants into a DWC system. Could you link the product you're using please? (Not that it'll do me any good here or anything, just curious...but since I've practically become my own importer of ...well, just about everything I've needed thus far...I'd like to check out those trays/plugs)...Thanx.

Here.

http://www.ihort.com/index.cfm/product/3_1/product--q40j392--size-2...

It's certainly not the only way to go, but at full summer capacity, I will need to plant (and transplant, and harvest) almost 800 seeds per day. And I'm trying to keep the entire farm routine down to one person. Using the 392 cell trays, that is only two trays per day to plant. I still need to make a vacuum "cookie sheet" seeder, but once I do it will take all of 3 minutes to plant two trays. I have the advantage of living only 45 minutes drive from IHort, so I can drive over and swap my empty trays for a pallet of filled trays about once per month. 

Germination rate is phenomenal, and I really like not having any net pot, media, or anything messy for both planting and harvesting. I elevate my trays so they will "air-prune" the roots of the seedlings. When the tap root dries and shrivels up, it sprouts a shitload of lateral roots, making a better root foundation. This means no roots are exposed to be damaged in transplant, which eliminates transplant shock. Conversely, if seedling tap root is allowed to hit moisture and grow, few laterals are formed and lettuce will literally wilt in the raft bed on a hot day, not because there isn't enough water (of course), but because the weak root structure is incapable of delivery. My lettuce just went through 3 days of 100+ F last week (it seldom gets past the low 90's here, and 80's are the norm) at full harvest size, with no wilting.

Holy christ Jon...800 a day!!! Sweet. Thanx for the link buddy.

Oh yeah...back when I was researching MaxiCrop/Seasol/Kelpak and found that their whole charm was in the fact they are all three are basically cold extracted plant hormones Auxin's and Cytokinin from kelp (and of course the accompanying trace elements that come from the sea)...

I think I recall that cytokinin is responsible for the growth of the tap-root tip (it's produced there as well)  and has much to do with cell division. It also suppress' lateral root growth (for which auxin is responsible for). So it makes sense that by "air pruning" the the tap root, especially the tip, probably cytokinin production is stopped or slowed, thereby allowing the auxins to go wild and produce a lot of nice lateral roots. (There's a bunch more to it, but that's basically what I got out of it...in a nut-shell). 

That totally jives with what I've been able to see first hand. Just never knew why exactly. The hairier and finer the better 

Glad things are taking off for you btw...(hehe... my systems all put together and ready to be filled up, but we've been without water here for 2 weeks now...so again, I wait...figures)...

@john

Thx for sharing info. I'm having problems with leafy greens at the moment. Kale purpling leaves (phosphorus deficient???)lettuce has Some wilting and what appears to be yellowing and dieing back from the tips on some leafs. I'm thinking there is not nearly enuf nutrients in water yet. System has been recirculating for a couple months with about 100 smaller fish in 3000 gal recirculating system. I just added another 150 or so tilapia fingerlings but??? Do you supplement nutrients for npk and if so what would u recommend? Also have you read about or tried azomite for trace elements? Many thank yous


Jon,

How did you source the Beaver Plastics rafts? Is there a distributer here in CA? I talked with them direct and shipping costs are prohibitive for the small amount I need...

 

tks,

vhb

 


 Jon Parr said:

I use plugs made from International Horticulture, made from fir bark and a polymer binder, similar to rapid rooters. They cost 2.8 cents each, 392 per tray, and the trays (26"x 13") are heavy duty and last for many years. I get very near 100 percent germination, and my plugs pop out and fit directly into Beaver Plastics lettuce rafts, no media or mesh pot whatsoever. The finished produce can be sold live root, and their is no debrit to soil the packaging. These plugs may not qualify for organic certification, because of the polymer used to make the plugs spongy. Too bad, as it is no different than the plastics used in net pots.

I water them in a flood and drain bed, pretty simple.
Vhb, I bought a truckload. Well, actually I pooled resources with another local going into business right now, and we bought it together. I can sell you some, but you'll have to come get them. Text me 831-251-9211

Arik, Vlad will know better than I about deficiencies. Snap a pic and show us, we can probably help. I don't supplement, per se, but I do dose KCl (potassium chloride) to at least 1 ppt. This gives me healthy fish, and a source of K. My big system now actually has 3 ppt total salt, split 50/50 NaCl and KCl, because I needed to treat some Ich that came in with some catfish that I didn't quarantine. Now Ich is gone, and lettuce grew right through the treatment. I haven't had any need to supplement since I dialed in my pH to 6.4, not even iron. The most important thing in AP is pH. I used to stress about natural acids, redwood tannins, anaerobic acids, blah blah. I'm still interested in all that, but HCl is damned cheap, and effective, and for me the nitrogen cycle holds it down at the same rate my hard water brings it up. And the whole system is very stable now. I don't even use kelp or maxicrop, but I intend to start feeding my composting worms some local kelp to ensure micros.

Vlad, "The hairier and finer the better". Boy, I partially agree :)
Really though, 800 seeds per day is my eventual. Right now I'm only 72 per day, but that's still pretty cool. Glad to hear you're ready to fill, pray for rain I guess.

thank you Jon. I'll try to snap a pic off sometime today and post for input. Do you source the KCI online? or is there local suppliers? Tractor Supply etc.? I'll do some research and check the ph. thanks a bunch!

KCl is sold locally at every building and hardware store (HD, Ace, OSH, etc) as a sodium alternative for water softeners. KCl costs $15 per 50 lb bag, as opposed to $5 per 50 lb bag of NaCl. Cheap and easy. Vlad prefers hairier and finer, I'll side with cheap and easy :) I think KCl is like 51% K by weight, so it should last you a bloody long time and you should kiss off any future chance of K deficiency. NaCl also staves off K def, as the two are largely interchangeable in plant physiology (or so I'm told).

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