As I begin to write this post, I’m realizing I need to write a post about how I got the seedlings to germinate in the first place as that is an important part of the aquaponic gardening equation. Many soil gardeners buy their seedlings already germinated in small potting containers and simply place their germinated seeds into their garden beds. Aquaponic gardeners do not have that luxury as soil contaminates the growing area. So aquaponic gardeners need to germinate their own seeds.
The seeds you see in the photo above have been growing in Grodan Rockwool cubes for about 12 days. Grodan is one of the brand names of these popular germinating methods. Rockwool was originally used for insulation. It was first developed for gardening in Denmark and became popularized by hydroponic gardeners. Rockwool is made by melting a combination of rock and sand, which is spun to make fibers which are formed into different shapes and sizes. We sell sheets of 98 1 and 1/2 inch Grodan Rockwool plugs on our website on our “Accessories” page. The plugs come lightly stitched together like stamps and fit perfectly inside a standard seedling tray.
I’ll do an entire post on how this process takes place in the near future; but for now, I want to talk about our new Humble Seed Romaine Seedlings that you see sitting in their Rockwool plugs on top of the syphon that’s in our Grow Bed #4. As you can see, I placed more than one seed in each of these plugs; and every seed sprouted! That’s really great. I’ll thin out the beds after things get going. In the meantime, I’m really thrilled with our Romaine Humble Seed. I also planted seeds from some other popular seed companies like Paramount, Baker and even Martha Stewart; but our Humble Seed had a greater percentage of germination success and went into the Grow Bed strong and healthy. So far, I’m a believer in the Humble Seed motto–Seed that Feeds.
In the picture above, you see the Grodan Rockwool plug placed into the Hydroton in Grow Bed #4; and now I’m also realizing I need to do an entire post on Hydroton as it, too, is unique to both hydroponics and aquaponics. Hydroton is called a Grow Bed media, which means it’s used to take the place of soil in your Grow Beds. For now, I’ll leave the story of Hydroton right there; and do a post on it in the near future.
Once again you see several Romaine Humble Seed seedlings as every seed that was placed in the Grodan Rockwool plug germinated.
Now, you see me planting the plugs with the germinated seedlings in them into our Grow Bed #1; and, “No”, I’m not a giant. I’m standing on the top step of a handy 2-step stool that we provide with our Food Forever™ Growing Systems. Being up at this level, makes it much easier on ones back when planting the seedlings into the Grow Bed and when harvesting your vegetables. Unlike soil gardening, which can be very challenging for seniors or people who have back issues, aquaponics gardening is done in raised beds. In fact, these beds are very raised as the configuration of the system, which is all about water flow, dictates that the beds be higher than the fish tanks. Our fish tanks are on the floor, so our Grow Beds need to be way off the floor.
I’m making a hole in the Hydroton where I’m going to place the plug with the seedling in it. I use my hands to do this; but you could also use a trowel if you wish.
Once the plug with the seedling is secure in it’s location in the Grow Bed, I gently protect the delicate plant with one hand as I cover the plug with the surrounding Hydroton. I want the plant to extend out of the Hydroton and be supported by it as is shown in the bottom of the above picture. Once all the plugs with their seedlings are planted into the Grow Beds, I fill a spray bottle full of nutrient rich fish tank water and spray all the exposed seedlings.
Aquaponics allows for very dense planting; and I am able to plant about 80 plugs of lettuce in each of our four 11 sq. ft. Grow Beds. Aquaponics also grows lettuce out much faster than soil gardening so we expect to have mature lettuce in about 28-30 Days.
You can watch it all happening on our “Greenhouse” page as we have a live webcam showing our new Growroom in action. In conclusion, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s going to be so fun to walk out to our Aquaponics garden to pick our salad for that special family day.