Germinating seeds is becoming a lost art for some, but not for us here at Roots & Harmony. Despite the popularity of cloning, which we agree is very effective, we realize that many times the only way to acquire a new strain or to introduce new strains to an area is to germinate them from seed. With this easy guide, you’ll be germinating your own seeds in no time.
Start with Good Seeds
Working with seed is just like working with anything else, you need to be reasonably certain that the seeds you have are still viable (usually whoever you get them from will vouch for them). Be careful with seeds from disreputable Internet sources; the phenotypes can vary greatly and you never what you are going to get. A good seed will be large, resembling the size of a peppercorn, often dark brown with black tiger stripes. Some seeds can vary from light-brown to black depending on the strain.
Soaking your Seeds
Fill a glass (approx. 8 oz.) with distilled or reverse-osmosis water, and place your seeds so they are floating on the surface. Let the seeds soak for 24 hrs in a dark space that doesn’t go below 62 degrees F or above 90 degrees. Optimal is 75. We like to do this in a cabinet above the stove. After 24 hrs some seed should have sank to the bottom. Some may require a little push, poking the seed under the surface. If the seeds sinks, it’s a good one. It’s ready to go into the next phase. If after five days your seed is still floating, toss it out. It’s a dud.
To begin, get a container that will comfortably house your seeds and 5 or 6 paper towels. You’ll want to fold the towel up nice and thick so they are at least 6 to 12 layers thick. Place your seeds in the middle layer and soak the paper towel completely, draining off any excess water from your container. If you want to give the seeds a kick-start you can add one ml or drop of a liquid-gel (we use cloneX) rooting hormone per 8oz. of water. Put the container again in a dark place that will not go below 62 degrees or above 90 degrees, again optimal is 75 degrees F. Check the seeds every 24 hours, re-moistening the towel if it begins to dry at all. After 1 or more days, you will start to see a small shoot growing out of the seed. When this shoot is approx. a quarter-inch or more in length, the seed is ready to plant. After 10 days, if a seed has not sprouted, it should probably be discard as it will not be a vigorous plant.
Use a planting flat from your nursery (should have several seperated 1×1 inch square containers) and fill each section with soil. The soil should be heavily aerated and amended with extra pearlite. Moisten the soil thoroughly, without soaking it. Place the seed shoot-down deep enough that the head is approx. 1 quarter-inch deep in the soil after the seed is covered. Cover the seed with soil, and then apply a final moistening to make sure the additional soil is wet. Drain any excess water from this tray thoroughly and then place on a heat mat or heating pad, something that can regulate the temperature to around 75 degrees. This tray should then have a humidity dome placed over it, and a flourescent light source should be applied as close to the dome as possible. This light source will tell the plants which way is up and begin their growth. This light source will be sufficient for the first two weeks of growth. At this point the plants should be thinned again, discarding any unwanted or non-producing seedlings. As many as 50% of the plants may be discarded when carefully choosing the best phenotypes; i.e. the ones with the largest leaves, the thickest stalks, optimal internode spacing, and otherwise optimal characteristics. At this point, the seedlings need to be moved into 1 gallon containers.
Again mix some soil, amended with a light dose of Growilla Bud Food (1 cup per 1.5 cubic feet of soil) and Pearlite (1 to 2 gallons per 1.5 cubic feet of soil). Fill 1 gallon containers about three-quarters full, place your seedling into the soil and cover it, leaving an extra inch of space above the filled soil line. Water this in first with a light sprinkling only trying to moisten the first two inches of soil. Wait 15 to 30 minutes, then repeat the watering, this time wetting the container just long enough to see drainage. These seedlings can now be placed under a metal-hallyde or HPS bulb at approx 36″ distance from the light source. This light can be dropped to approx 18 to 24″ over the course of a week. Repeat your thinning and releasing of unwanted plants throughout your vegetative cycle, finding optimal mothers and fathers for your next round of polination.
Happy growing, keep it organic.