Germination is the most awaited growth phase for almost all gardeners. When it comes to germinating lettuce seeds for hydroponics, the anticipation gets multiplied. Besides, lettuce is one of the most grown plants hydroponically.
Well, there three ways to germinate lettuce seeds for hydroponics which include paper towel method, using Rockwool, and the traditional method.
So, how to germinate lettuce seeds for hydroponics using these three methods? Let’s look it in detail.
How to Germinate Lettuce Seeds for Hydroponics?
Germinating lettuce seeds for hydroponics is a step-by-step process. To receive optimum yield, each step must be carried out with time.
Step 1: Selecting The Right Variety
Seed selection is the first step you must take towards germinating lettuce seeds. Since time immemorial, the man saved his seeds from the cross every year. However, not all of us are farmers; we need to look for other sources.
The quality of your seed determines your germination period. Therefore, it becomes vital to select your seeds from a trustworthy and reliable source. One of the most reliable sources to germinate lettuce seeds is from seed banks.
Many areas have community seed banks that grow and store the seed in a state of dormancy. Later, these seeds are distributed to the local farmers and gardeners. If you reside in or near any rural area, you can easily purchase quality seeds from farmers.
It is recommended to purchase from farmers, as they are more familiar with seeds. If you grow lettuce continuously, save the seeds from the consequent generations. Doing such will maintain the homogeneity of your cultivation.
These arrangements aren’t possible when you live in a busy urban area. To solve the issue, you can rely on seed producing companies. The main advantage of commercial seeds is that it comes with selective characteristics.
Some companies might be unable to produce lettuce seeds for hydroponics. In such a case, it is recommended to visit a trusted online store. You can then search, “lettuce seeds for hydroponics.”
Step 2: Setting
After you’ve selected the right seeds, it is time to set them up. Irrespective of your hydroponic system, germination must be done separately. Plug trays provide the right conditions for germination.
Select any good quality plastic plug tray for your germination purposes. Then, fill the plug trays with any growing medium which can uphold moisture. It can be Rockwool, Coconut Coir, or a combination of both.
You can use any damp growing medium or slowly add water to get it wet. Make sure to add water drop-by-drop by your hands to ensure spaciousness. Don’t make the medium soggy, but add enough moisture to facilitate germination.
Adding too much water in the growing medium might rot it. Moreover, it will also lead your lettuce seeds to decay. Install your lettuce seeds inside the growing medium.
Start this method by sprinkling the seeds over the growing medium. Don’t insert the seeds by force, as doing such might damage them. Always make sure to cover the seeds ¼ inch beneath the moist growing medium.
During the germination period, it is advisable to keep the growing medium moist. For such purposes, an atomizer works best. Atomizers facilitate even distribution of water in a definite area.
Sprinkle about 50-100ml of water to regulate the moisture content. To germinate lettuce seeds, sunlight is a must-have resource. Therefore, put your plug trays in an area receiving optimum sunlight.
For better results, maintain the growing environment temperature in a range between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are residing in a cold climate region, install a halogen lamp. It is advisable to keep the light at the height of 2 inches above the seeds.
In case of dim sunlight, lit them for a minimum of 14 hours. After 10-14 days, your Lettuce seeds will show sprouts.
Things You Would Need
1. Growing Medium
There is a huge collection of growing mediums to choose from. To germinate hydroponic lettuce, you can choose Rockwool, Coco fibre, vermiculite, wood shavings, river rock, sand granules, and many more. All the growing medium withhold a specific characteristic.
Also, using such a growing medium has many pros and cons. However, all the above-mentioned growing mediums are perfect for germinating hydroponic lettuce. Among all growing mediums, Rockwell is the most recommended.
This is because Rockwool is neutral (non-reactive) and porous. If you go with the recommendation, don’t make the Rockwool too saturated. Doing such will led to the suffocation of your lettuce seeds, and they can’t grow.
Gardeners who select Rockwool don’t face any difficulty in regulating the pH level. As Rockwool remains neutral, you won’t need a wider selection of pH regulators. Another growing medium that remains neutral is to grow rock.
The main reason behind using grow rock is its reusability. However, to reuse it, you must clean the medium thoroughly. Ideal for the hydroponic system at home, grow rocks maintains the moisture content.
To germinate hydroponic lettuce seeds, vermiculite or perlite is the most recommended. Don’t use grow rock for a large-scale hydroponic system. Your growing environment might become tedious.
2. Plug Trays
Plug trays are available in different shapes and sizes in the market. Choosing a plug is one of the most complex tasks in hydroponics. If you want to receive optimum growth, know the right kind of plug tray for germination. Get this 50 seed plug tray from Amazon.
If you are germinating lettuce seeds to fulfill personal requirements, we suggest the 32 plug trays. When it comes to size, 32 cell trays are the largest in the segment. Each chamber has a dimension of 2 by 2 inches, which is enough to hold the saplings.
You can easily remove the chamber from the mainframe for easy transplantation. Besides lettuce, these trays are perfect for melons, squash, and pumpkins. Compared to other variants, the chambers are spacious to uphold any growing medium.
Another variant to germinate lettuce seeds is the 72-chamber plug trays. This variant is the most popular among all plug trays. You can plan to grow hydroponic lettuce on a relatively large scale for personalized use.
The dimension of each chamber is 1.5 x 2.25 inches, which makes it an excellent option for all plant varieties. Besides lettuce, you can grow peppers, cauliflowers, mustards, and early season vine crops. However, if you have a commercial plan, choose the 128 and 200 variants.
3. Grow Lights
Gardening becomes write easier with the assistance of grow lights. Not just lettuce, but you can grow flowers like tulips, orchids and marigold. After substantial research, it is found that yields formed with grow lights are more green and healthy.
You must select the grow light in contrast to its frequency and intensity. Many gardeners claim it to reduce the germination period to an extent. If you reside in a cold region, a good grow light becomes a necessity.
Depending on your scale of cultivation, select the right color and spectrum. As you all might know, sunlight is an amalgamation of different frequencies. For indoor plants, you’ll need to be too selective about the spectrum.
Replication of the natural solar spectrum takes place by using full-spectrum bulbs. These bulbs maintain the equilibrium by emitting cool and warm light. However, you can also use halogen bulbs to lit throughout the night.
You can easily purchase any grow bulb online or from a retailer. Depending on your scale of cultivation, choose the power figures. We recommend you to buy Beelux Grow Light which is perfect for germinating seeds.
What Are The Other Methods Of Germination?
1. The Paper-Towel Method
The paper-towel is one of the simplest methods to germinate lettuce seeds. If you are a novice to hydroponics, this method will prove to be the best. To proceed, a paper towel, water, and a plastic Zip-lock bag are all you need.
Wait, you’ll need seeds for sure. Select a decent quality paper towel from any retailer or online. After purchasing, take the paper quality, and trim off a square area.
This is to ensure balance to your system, which will prevent falling off. It withholds the shape even when the growing medium remains moist. Then, wet the paper towel, and squeeze to let the excess water out.
Remember to make the paper towel moist, but it mustn’t drip. A dripping paper towel will make your place messier. Moreover, excess water on the paper towel might rot your lettuce seeds.
Wet the paper towel and then squeeze it such that it’s moist but not dripping. Then, put the lettuce seeds on the paper towel, and fold it over. After folding properly, it’s time to store your Lettuce seeds.
For storing your lettuce seeds, use a zip lock bag. Many gardeners use cling bags, which is also a good alternative. Keep your storage bag in a cool and dry place to get results in a week.
2. Germination by Rockwool
Practically speaking, Rockwool is used for insulation and noise reduction purposes. Many gardeners also use Rock wool to prevent mold and fungi growth. Lettuce seeds for hydroponics can be germinated by using Rockwool.
You can easily find good quality Rockwool cubes in your nearby nursery. Usually, select Rockwool cubes having a hole at the center. In case they don’t, poke the center with a sharp knife.
Before installing the lettuce seeds for hydroponics in the Rockwool medium, soak them in warm water. It is recommended to keep in for about 2 hours. The longer you wait, the more porous it will be.
Then, carve a 1-2 cm deep hole at the center. Place the lettuce seeds in the void with a little push to the bottom. You can also cover the carved wool on top of the inserted seeds to ensure protection.
Store the seed containing Rockwool near to window to provide dim sunlight. Germination by Rockwool works great for all lettuce seeds. If you are using Rockwool throughout the process, there isn’t any need for separation.
If you are associated with Rockwool in gardening tasks, follow some safety hazards. Burning Rockwool emits poisonous fumes that are very difficult to breathe. If you want to dispose off, it is better to dig the material into the soil.
In barns, keep Rockwool away from your small cattle animals. There have been cases of cattle died due to suffocation by consuming Rockwool.
3. Traditional Method
Almost every gardener is familiar with the traditional method of germination. It is very simple, and the cost of germinating lettuce seeds is very negligible. All you need is some rich quality compost to enrich the soil.
Novices think the process to be obsolete, but it is recommended by many veteran gardeners. To germinate lettuce seeds, the soil moisture content must be high. Therefore, you must take proper care in regulating the moisture content.
Read the seed pack to get more precise information about humidity and temperature. You can water the soil regularly to get the required moisture output. Make sure not to overflow if you are using clayey soil.
Germinating lettuce seeds for hydroponics is similar to mint. The process is time-consuming yet effective. So, you’ll need to possess the patience of a hermit.
Start the process by selecting a good quality plastic or clayey tub. The perfect ratio to germinate lettuce seeds is 2:1. In simple words, take 200 grams of soil for every 100 grams of compost.
Unlike the Rockwool method, don’t push the seeds deep into the growing medium. Just place the seeds on top, and add a layer of soil covering the seeds. Make sure to mix the composition well, and in the right ratio.
If you regulate the moisture according to the soil type, sprouts will show within two weeks. In hot and arid regions, the process delays to 3 weeks.
Just like the vegetative stage, germination is also an essential phase of a plant’s life. It determines the quality and harvesting period. Many novice gardeners give less importance to the pre-vegetative stage. In the case of lettuce, 50% of the output quality is determined by the germinating period. This Ultimate Guide will clear your doubts on how to Germinate Lettuce seeds.