12 Replies Latest reply on Jul 3, 2017 1:59 PM by joed

    plant seeds directly into TG

      I'm very new to the TG and Tower Talk.  Sorry if someone already asked this...  I have an indoor TG and half of it is currently filled with pre-grown seedlings that I ordered online.  I'm getting ready to start my own... Can I put new seeds directly into the TG?  Or can they not be exposed to direct light till I see that they have been germinated?   Thanks!

        • Re: plant seeds directly into TG

          I'm no expert but you're supposed to seed in the rock wool first and let the rock wool sit on 1/4 " water. I imagine this helps the seeds germinate faster versus dripping water every 15 minutes. My TG is indoors so I just leave the seed tray in the TG so the seeds get plenty of light.

          • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
            joed

            Hi taralthomas,  It is strongly recommended that you place seedlings in the TG only after you see roots exiting the rockwool cube. You can read about the entire process in the following documents:

             

            The Basic Seedling Growing Procedure (read the "Starting Your Seeds" section of the Tower Garden Growing Guide):

            http://www.towergarden.com/content/dam/towergarden/resources/tower-garden-growing-guide.pdf

             

            An Extended Seedling Growing Procedure:

            JoeD's Seedling Growing Procedure

             

            -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: plant seeds directly into TG

                Thank you!  I did read the growing procedures, but was wondering why we would need to wait to see roots before placing them in the TG.  Is it because they aren't getting constant water?  Mine is set for 15 min on and 30 min off.  Or is it because the direct UV light is too much in the beginning?  Or is it because they shouldn't have water with the minerals or the ph at 6.0?  I'm just trying to get a better feel for how and why things work. 

                  • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                    joed

                    Hi taralthomas, With hydroponic systems like the TG, providing the "what to do" is always easier than providing the "why you should do it"... it can get quite complicated and "science-y". As for why seeds are germinated separate from the TG, there are several key reasons. This topic borders on a discussion in advanced biology so I will only scratch the surface here.

                    • New sprouts and seedlings are like newborn babies... they require a much gentler environment until they are better established (food, temp, light, etc).
                    • Seed casings contain chemical growth inhibitors which prevent germination and protect the seed during dormancy. Placing the seed directly into the TG causes these chemicals to leach into the nutrient solution. Since the TG is a recirculating system, these growth inhibitors are now able to reach all the live plants in the system. Depending on what you are growing and what stage of growth the plants are in, these chemicals can stunt growth and even kill young seedlings depending on the concentrations.
                    • There are different types of roots. The ones close to the base of the stem tend to stay close to the surface and seek out oxygen. Lower roots tend to seek out water. Both absorb nutrients from the surrounding environment. Keeping a young seedling in a tray with a small amount of water causes the upper part of the rockwool cube to be more favorable to the oxygen loving root types. The bottom portion of the rockwool cube (under water) is more favorable to the water loving root types. In short, you are "training" the young seedling roots to grow in a way that will be optimal for later in their life when placed into the TG. You don't send a newborn baby straight to college but that's kinda what you are doing when placing seedlings directly into the TG.
                    • Seeds germinated directly in the TG are not as hearty as those germinated in an optimal environment. This tend to make them more susceptible to pests and diseases.

                     

                    We are dealing with living things and complex biology here... Man's understanding of the entire process is still missing a few pieces. So, at the moment, there is no black & white, 100% right, 100% wrong. Therefore, you will most certainly receive several posts that say "Well, I start my seeds directly in the TG and they are great!". One fact is for sure - People who start seeds directly in the TG will never achieve both *optimal* and *consistent* growing seasons with their TG. It's like driving a 4-speed vehicle and never using 4th gear. Hope that helps a little.

                     

                    -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

                    8 of 8 people found this helpful
                      • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                        russ

                        This is great information. Knowing why to germinate the seeds separately from the TG and knowing why to soak the rockwool is actually very helpful to figuring out exactly how. I had already reasoned my way to cutting off the cover, germinating in a dark warm place and dispensing with the vermiculite. While I had dutifully soaked the rockwool cubes, I was not sure til now that it was all that necessary. It never occurred to me that, rather than assuring it was saturated, I was actually washing out unwanted deposits that raised the pH.

                        Likewise, I never fully understood the reason for waiting for roots to exit the bottom of the rockwool block before placing them in the TG. Instead I continued the practice I had when transplanting seedlings started in soil. I waited only until secondary leaf buds started to emerge, indicating that the seedlings were no longer feeding off their stored nutrients and now needed outside nourishment. My thought was that the seedlings would not benefit from the TG nutrient solution and might be harmed. As a result, I was placing them a bit sooner than you would recommend. I still don't think this is incorrect, but I see the value in letting the roots develop properly.

                        Based on your post, the arrival of your new grow clips and serendipitous timing, I am now experimenting with combining the two methods. I have placed some of the rockwool cubes on the clips and put them in the TG immediately after germination, but I only lower them enough to wet the bottom quarter inch until they produce secondary leaf buds. This is something I could not do with the net pots. (The only way to accomplish something similar with net pots would be to dip up some half-strength TG water from the tower to supply the 1/4 inch solution in the tray after secondary leaf buds form.)  If all goes as planned, these should develop their upper air-loving and lower water-loving root systems properly and never lack nutrients when they need them. I'll let you know how it goes.

                          • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                            joed

                            Hi russ,

                             

                            "I am now experimenting with combining the two methods. I have placed some of the rockwool cubes on the clips and put them in the TG immediately after germination, but I only lower them enough to wet the bottom quarter inch until they produce secondary leaf buds."

                             

                            What an awesome experiment! I cannot wait to learn of the results. Please keep me updated!
                            I never considered the added benefit of grow port depth adjustment when using the L2C GPClip™ design... but there ya go... :-)

                             

                            -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

                              • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                                russ

                                I wish I could say that this "experiment" was at all scientific, but I don't have a set of cubes done the other way for comparison.  That said, it is going extremely well. I placed all the cubes in the TG on June 12. Most had germinated one week or less earlier. I pushed the clips down only to the point where the top edge of the cubes contacted the tower wall. That got the bottom wet, but kept the top dry until it wicked up some solution and became damp. All but one (a very slow grower) has already developed secondary leaves, but none have roots going through the bottom. Hopefully, this will nourish the seedlings while their roots continue to develop correctly. Next time out, I'll germinate a few extra cubes for comparison and follow your directions scrupulously.

                                  • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                                    russ

                                    Here's an update on my unscientific experiment with placing the cubes into the TG immediately after germination but just low enough to wet the bottoms. I decided to wait until I saw roots out the bottom before fully lowering the cubes and raised any that I had lowered earlier. One week has now gone by since I placed the cubes in the TG and all but a few have roots out the bottom and have been fully lowered. I don't have enough experience to know if that's particularly fast progress from cotyledon to bottom roots, but it feels quick. Today I am thinning all the cubes down to the single, healthiest looking plant in each cube. The plants I am pulling mostly seem to have well developed upper roots, although I don't really know what to look for regarding the upper, air-loving roots.

                                      • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                                        russ

                                        Well, here's another update. It's been 14 days since most of the seeds germinated and then went immediately into the TG with the clips raised. Root development looked good when I thinned them and growth has been excellent. I'm too new to this to know how it might compare to keeping them in the tray without nutrients until roots emerge, but from my perspective they look good. (Part of the growth might be attributable to the fact that I have doubled the light.)TG at 2wks.jpg

                                          • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                                            russ

                                            Just three weeks in and today plucked a few leaves to top a burger. I think I will call this experiment a success. Upper and lower root development is excelent and the plants are growing well. I used a very weak solution during the cotlydon stage (1/4 strength), then moved to 1/2 strength when the roots showed through the bottom.

                                              • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                                                joed

                                                Hi russ, Sounds like using a grow port clip with an adjustable depth feature makes your procedure viable for those who wish to germinate seed in a tray then move immediately to the TG.

                                                 

                                                I caution anyone thinking of trying Russ' procedure to remember that you shouldn't use it on a TG with existing mature plants (they all must be seedlings) and also be aware of the extra care required to step-up the nutrient solution strength as the plants mature. In other words, it's a little more complicated and requires a bit more effort than keeping the seedlings in a tray until you see roots exiting the rockwool cube.

                                                 

                                                -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech

                              • Re: plant seeds directly into TG
                                joed

                                Hi taralthomas, I strongly recommend you read and follow the following document. Consider it a supplement to the Tower Garden Growing Guide that you received with your TG:

                                 

                                Tower Garden Fundamentals

                                 

                                -- [please mark this post as "Correct Answer" (under Actions menu) and/or "Helpful" when appropriate] -- Happy Growing! -JoeD towergarden level2concepts tgtech TG Tech