After a long winter slumming it in our grow tents, ensuring the lack of humidity doesn’t kill the tropical plants we insist on keeping, it’s time to start popping seeds for spring planting. The colder months spent praying the storms don’t cut power to our LED lights are finally over. Summer will be a little easier on the nerves because nature is lending a helping hand; let’s begin preparing our babies now so we can guarantee a good bounty come harvest.
There are many methods and opinions about germination and seedling preparation. Some helicopter plant parents use the paper towel method, and some just toss the seeds in the soil come summer like some sort of brute.
I am going to share what works for me. All plants don’t necessarily enjoy the same temperatures and humidity so we are going with an acceptable range for most standard plants. I start them all at the same time, so they better get along like one big happy family.
Not everyone has the perfect environment in their homes to start seeds, so let’s talk about ideal conditions for our plant babies. Temperatures at the root zone/medium should be between 70 to 85°F or 24 to 30°C, while the Relative Humidity should be 50-65%.
During this process, I find it invaluable to have a digital thermometer directly in your medium of choice to ensure the root zone maintains a steady temperature. Humidity domes also come in handy to keep the necessary moisture for a successful seed pop and early life stages.
Let There Be Light
Some homes have excellent natural light for most of the day. But, unfortunately, the people who built my house didn’t feel the need to position me in any sensible way towards the sun. To correct this, I employ an LED light.
It isn’t necessary to have a 1000w expensive light source; a 40-60w will do just fine. Some people keep them on 24 hours a day until the juvenile plants are up potted, and some put them on an 18/6 light schedule. It’s a matter of opinion and preference. Maybe the electric bill will decide for you.
I have tried pretty much every grow medium under the sun. Pun intended. Everything from peat moss, Rock Wool, Jiffy Pots, potting mix, Pro-Mix HP, and on and on.
After all the experimentation, I have reverted to plain, unamended soil/vermiculite. I am not even testing the PH of the water I use to keep the topsoil moist throughout the process. Be careful not to overwater; simply keep the topsoil wet with a spray bottle.
I find much of the bells and whistles necessary to maintain adult plants or bring cannabis to flower are unnecessary for the early life stages. In fact, using strong fertilizers early on can harm the seedlings. Keep them warm, keep them wet and keep an eye on them. Yes, sometimes I sing to them and give them pet names like Mr. Cute Cumber, but that isn’t pertinent to their survival. Frankly, it’s just something this plant dad does to have fun.
Some final words of wisdom: If you have older seeds, give them a soak in a shot glass full of water for 24 hours and see if they sink to the bottom. If they don’t drop, the odds are they will not pop.
The last rule of Germination Club: pop more seeds than you need. As with people, genetics are not created equal. You don’t want to end up with tomato plants that belong on the Short Bus. As they spring to life, start noticing which plants might look like they are thriving early and are worth your investment of time and love.
Happy growing, and I will see you out in the garden this summer.