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Ask An Expert: Grow Mediums

What you need to do before you start planting seeds

The following is a list of all the equipment needed before you start planting your seeds.

Nano Dome Kit

The Nano Dome kit is an ideal product for germinating seeds. It comes with the essentials and makes life easy.

 The kit includes a dome and tray, which is used to create the ideal environment for seedlings. It also comes with a Fluorescent T5 light, with reflector, which will provide your seedlings with sufficient lighting. 

The added benefit of this kit is that there is an area on the dome that allows you to sit the T5 fluorescent light right on top. There is no need for light hangers or securing your light to any other object that will allow it to hang over the dome. It sits right above your plants and is close enough to reduce the risk of stretching and far enough to reduce the risk of burning or causing stress to the plant due to over lighting.

Heat mat & thermostat

The heat mat is an ideal tool to use while germinating seedlings as it provides a source of heat needed for root growth.  It is highly recommended to use a thermostat with the heat mat as the temperature of the heat mat will exceed the ideal temperature for root growth if used without one. 

The ideal temperature to set the thermostat for ideal root growth is between 25 and 27 degrees Celsius.

It is also highly recommended to place a towel or cloth on the heat mat before placing the tray and dome on top. This is recommended because the heat mat provides heat through a wire that weaves through the mat and tends to create hot spots. The towel or cloth will help disperse the heat evenly and provide better temperature control.

B Vitamin

Before we can begin prepping the grow medium of your choice, we need to prepare the nutrient solution we will be using to soak the medium.

Seedlings do not need a lot of fertilizer when initially germinating because there are plenty of nutrients in the seed for the first few days of growth.  Because of this, we will only be using B vitamins in our nutrient solution. B Vitamins help with reducing stress on the plant and increasing its growth rate.

When mixing your solution, it is ideal to use filtered water to reduce the amount of chloramine found in regular tap water. You can do this by letting the water sit for 24 hours. If you don’t want to wait that long, bottled water works fine.

Once you water is ready, follow the directions on the back of the B vitamin bottle and add the appropriate amount to the water. Make sure the B vitamin is mixed well with the water.  

You will now have to adjust the pH. The pH of the solution is dependent on the grow medium being used. A pH of 6.2 is adequate for Jiffy pellets, coco plugs and potting soil. While a pH of 5.5 is required for rock wool.

Grow Mediums

Jiffy Pellets

Jiffy pellets are very popular and work great with seeds. They are compressed peat moss and expand when soaked in water. They come in two sizes and are ideal for use with seeds and cuttings.

The first step in preparing Jiffy pellets is to soak in the water solution you have prepared. Allow the pellets to absorb the water until they have fully expanded. This can take up to 15 minutes. The pellets will be considerably larger when fully soaked, about 5x its original size.  

Once the pellets have fully expanded, remove from the water solution one by one and place on a propagation or insert tray. 

Each pellet should be squeezed slightly to remove excess water. Once the excess water has been removed, gently rotate the pellet between your thumb, index and middle fingers; this will decompress any medium that was compressed while squeezing the excess water out. Continue the process for all Jiffy pellets being used. The medium is ready for use once this process is completed.

Rock Wool

Rock wool is a popular grow medium commonly used with hydroponic systems. It has a high water holding capacity and provides adequate aeration for ideal root growth.

Rock wool grow medium is alkaline with a pH of 9. Due to its high alkalinity, the medium needs to be soaked in water solution with a pH of 5.5 before being used.

To do this, begin by preparing a water solution with a pH of 5.5. Place the rock wool seedling mat in a propagation tray and soak with the solution. Allow the rock wool to sit in the solution for 5 minutes before removing the excess water from the tray. 

Never squeeze rock wool, it will destroy the fiber structure within the medium making it difficult for root growth.

Next, prepare a water solution with B vitamin and a pH of 5.5. Soak the mat again, removing excess water after 5 minutes. You are now ready to plant your seeds!

Coco Plugs 

Coco plugs have recently become very popular with growers, specifically the Eazy Block Plugs. This grow medium uses a combination of coco and cork to provide roots with an ideal water to air ratio. The plugs also have trace elements for ideal plant growth during its infancy.

Preparing the plugs is very easy and clean. Start by preparing a water solution with B vitamins and adjust the pH to 6.2. Like the rock wool mat, pour the solution over the coco plugs until they are all evenly soaked. 

Next remove any excess water from the tray. You are now ready to plant your seeds, it’s that easy!

Potting Soil

Potting soil is the original grow medium used by gardeners from all walks of life. It is simple to use and very little preparation is needed.

To begin using potting soil, you will need an insert tray or small pots. Fill the tray or pots with potting soil. Plant your seeds and water with the B vitamin solution you have prepared. That’s it! 

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