Korean Natural Farming: Seed Soak Solution

This article originally appeared in Garden Culture Magazine UK31 & Us29

Looking for an organic way to prime your seeds? Once again, Korean Natural Farming comes to the aid of growers looking to get their seeds off to a flying start; now that you have made all your inputs you need to get them to good use! Where better to start than the birth of life itself?

Let’s face it; the early stages of life are most crucial for pretty much any species on Earth. If the start of your life is all stress and turmoil, chances are you’re going to suffer for it at various points throughout your life. On the flip side, if you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth and given all the opportunities you could ever desire, you are much more likely to become highly successful. Everyone might hate you for the unfair advantage you’ve had, but at least you will be warm and snug come winter while sleeping on your pile of money. 

Let’s start at the very beginning

A seed soak solution is the Korean Natural Farming’s way of priming your seeds using the myriad of organic inputs you have spent time and effort creating. All of us go through a routine when we plant seeds to get off to a healthy start. This is a little slice of the KNF pie that targets precisely that process. The combination of using the three KNF ingredients in this process imbues the seed with a few qualities that will help it on its merry way.

To begin, you need to get your hands on a few key KNF ingredients: Brown Rice Vinegar (BRV), Fermented plant juice (FPJ) and Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN). If you have been keeping yourself up to speed on the previous issues, you might even have them all lying around handy. Give yourself a bonus ten points and pat on the back if you do. If you don’t, then you might end up feeling left out of the cool club. Don’t give up now, do yourself a favor and make said inputs then come back to have your application to the cool club re-considered. 

What the chuff does it do then?

We should probably get down to looking at why you should go about practicing this hippy nonsense in the first place. The presence of BRV in the solution offers a decent level of pH buffering for the seed in its early development. If you haven’t made any BRV yet, don’t panic, you can just as easily use some other type of vinegar. The FPJ gives the fledgling seeds all the diverse yeasts, hormones, enzymes, and biology you captured at the time of fermenting. The OHN provides organic anti-pathogenic properties to protect the young plant from any nasty diseases wanting to ruin things for you.

These three powerhouse ingredients form like Voltron in a solution that your cherished little seeds soak up for a certain amount of time. During the soaking, the seeds absorb all the properties and goodness from your solution, which in turn helps them form greater beneficial associations with the biology of whatever media you’re going to use. Using an actual living soil, or something similar will work in a much more harmonious way with this method, helping to max-out the potential genetic expressions in your prized tomatoes.

Let’s get Cracking

You will be pleased to know that the process is super simple. A little extra effort in the preparation of your new seeds is about to go a very long way.

What you will need:

  • OHN – Organic Herbal nutrient
    • If you haven’t yet made OHN, leave it out. You will be missing the anti-pathogenic properties of the solution, but being the ‘hardest’ of all KNF inputs to make, chances are you probably don’t have any.
  • FPJ – Fermented plant Juice 
    • Ideally, try to use one that lends its characteristics towards the growth of a seedling. A dandelion root ferment is an ideal choice. It only takes seven days to make, so if you haven’t got any, start a batch now.
  • BRV – Brown Rice Vinegar
    • Once again, if you don’t have any and can’t be bothered to make it, use another type of vinegar. Organic apple cider vinegar is always a good go-to in this situation.
  • Water – H20
    • Ideally, free of chlorine and chloramines. So, get yourself an RO machine. If you can’t be bothered, there’s probably a hassle-free alternative you can find in your local shop.
  • Measuring jug
    • Depending on what you are soaking, you might not need a lot. A 500ml batch is usually easiest to make.
  • Measuring Syringe
    • For consuming all the smack and measuring the other inputs.

How to make it:

It really couldn’t be simpler:

  1. Measure 500ml of water.
  2. Add 1ml of BRV (or 2ml per liter if making more).
  3. Add 1ml of FPJ (or 2ml per liter if making more.)
  4. Add 0.5ml (or less if aged) of OHN (or 1ml per liter if making more).
  5. Use it or store it. It stores very well in an airtight container, ready for use whenever needed. Make sure to keep it in a cool, dry place as per usual.

How to use it:

The most common application is to use the solution for soaking seeds. For this, you only need a tiny amount – enough just to cover your seeds in the container. Pour in a bit of the solution and then pop your seeds in. The soaking time varies on the type of seed you are germinating; nothing is set in stone. Smaller and softer seeds will only need 5 to 10 minutes or so, whereas larger, harder seeds will require significantly more time – basically long enough for the beneficial properties in the solution to make their way into the seed. 

Alternatively, you can use it for a root soak when transplanting young seedlings (or cuttings) or preparing things like strawberry runners or asparagus crowns by soaking before planting. A tree sapling’s root system will also benefit from a seemingly extreme method of application my bro, Chris Trump, advocates: shaking/washing off the excess soil, then allowing the roots to dry before rehydrating with the solution and planting. The aim is to imbue unto the root zone all the magical properties this natural elixir offers.

Blammo – You are now a natural farmer

It is a super-simple method. The hardest thing will be a little trial and error in gauging the exact amount of time for your particular seed, but a little patience and effort goes a long way. As mentioned earlier, when used with true living soil, it works wonders. It can also be used to benefit in a more typically ‘hydro’ media like coco. Finally (and probably most importantly), it gives you an excellent opportunity to stop spending all your hard-earned money on over-priced, glitzy looking plastic bottles with enticing advertising slogans, and to start getting yourself self-sufficient. Win/win for everyone concerned.

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After many years as a hobby, I began my career in Hydroponics working for Aquaculture in Sheffield, the UK's largest and most forward-thinking grow shops of the time. From there I began to work for Hydromag, responsible for the hydroponic content. Most notably, the product tests and comparisons, breaking ground in the industry and cutting through marketing hyperbole by showing consumers exactly how products stacked up against each other. From there I worked with CANNA, as editor of CANNAtalk, author of the research articles and delivering seminars throughout the UK to grow shops on the finer details of cultivating in a hydroponic environment. I'm currently writing for a number of companies in the hydroponic industry, of course, the most important of all being the powerhouse publication that is, Garden Culture.