Getting Started Growing with Hydroponics

If you are ready to get started growing with your hydroponics system, then keep reading! In this short guide, you will learn what you need to know about getting started growing your plants with your new hydroponics system, from the starter cubes to planting the seeds to mixing the nutrient solutions.

Using starter cubes is the easiest and best way to start your seeds. These are used in regular soil gardening as well as hydroponic growing, and they are made of inert materials that are basically there to provide support the plant and its roots, rather than provide nutrients or anything like that. The starter cubes will retain some water for the plants in its material, but won’t supply nutrients unless the nutrients are dissolved in that water. There are 4 basic kinds of starter cubes, and they are peat pots, Oasis cubes, Rockwool, and Organo-Cubes. Peat pots are the least popular of these because they have a tendency to get too wet and when they become sodden, they risk providing too much water to your seedlings and seeds, which can drown them. Rockwool, Organo-Cubes, and Oasis cubes retain water, but also retain enough air that the seedlings and seeds won’t drown.

Preparing your starter cubes depends on which kind you are using. Organo-Cubes cubes come ready to go. If you are using the peat pots and Oasis cubes need to be soaked with water adjusted to pH 6 – 6.5. Let them soak and then let them drain, and they are ready to use. Rockwool has a high pH already and so must be soaked in water that is pH adjusted to 5.0 to balance the overall pH for the plants. Soak for 24 hours and then drain, and you are ready to go. These stater cubes are readily available st your favorite hydroponic store .

To plant the seeds in the starter cubes once they are prepared, take a pen or pencil and poke a hole into the top of the cube. Slip the seed inside the hole and pack it closed with some of the starter cube material surrounding the hole. Your cubes should be kept moist but not wet and never be allowed to just sit in water. They don’t require light until after the seeds begin to sprout, and the seedlings do not need nutrients until the first leaves appear. When those first leaves appear, then you can begin giving them a diluted version of your nutrient solution.

A nutrient solution is basically fertilizer dissolved in water. Start with good, high quality water and then mix the fertilizer of your choice into it as instructed on the packaging or other informational materials provided by the manufacturer of the fertilizer. The pH balance is important, so it should be checked and adjusted if need be with liquid pH adjusters. A good rule of thumb for pH level is 6.0 to 6.5 for all of the different growing materials, except the Rockwool mentioned above, that needs 5.5 to 5.8. Young plants need a diluted nutrient solution, between ¼ and ½ full strength. After your plants are about two weeks old, you can switch to the full strength nutrient solution. Your growth materials should remain moist but not saturated with the nutrient solution so the seedlings do not drown.

Once your plants begin to grow roots that show poking through the starter cubes, then you can transplant the seedlings into your hydroponics system of choice (or even soil, if you decide to go that way). Simply take the starter cube and insert it into or on top of your permanent growing medium in your system and you are ready to reap the benefits of your hydroponics setup!