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Thread: Germinating-Coco-Rockwool-Glass of Water-Soil-Root Riot cubes-Paper towel methods.

  1. #1

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    Default Germinating-Coco-Rockwool-Glass of Water-Soil-Root Riot cubes-Paper towel methods.

    Over the time I have been a member here, I have seen many differing opinions and methods for germinating seeds.

    I have been asked on a couple of occasions for advice and once or twice, people have asked for a guide to germinating.

    What this thread is for is NOT a side by side COMPARISON

    The intention of this thread is to give a side by side perspective of several methods of germinating seeds, thats all. No conclusions will be suggested or offered.

    I will be using some of my own BB x NL seeds. I have a 100% germination rate with them and the finished plants are very good.
    While they may not be the strongest around, they are quite vigorous, easy to grow and the finished smoke is a real old school skunk flavour. I should rename them Woody's skunk to be fair since there are many BB x NL varieties out there.

    I will NOT be seeing the seedlings through to the finish with a diary, unless one turns out to be a serious good pheno. The objective here is purely to demonstrate the varying methods and hopefully give some tips along the way and some of the benefits and drawabacks for the differing method.

    I plan to germinate 8 seeds in pairs using several different methods.

    2 with the paper towel method, then 1 into soil, the other into Root Riot cubes.

    2 in a glass of water, then one into rockwool,the other into coco.

    1 Directly into soil,
    1 Directly into Coco.
    1 directly into Rockwool,
    1 directly into Root Riot cubes.


    I will be using a couple of 25W cfl's for providing heat for germinating and once cracked, they will all go under a 300W dual spectrum CFL.
    Those going into soil and root riot cubes, will just be using water ph'd to 6.5
    The soil is Westlands John Innes seed starter soil with around 30% perlite. I find this a very good seed soil which never burns and provides a good home for those delicate roots.
    The Root Riot cubes will be soaked in water with ph 6.5.

    For the inert mediums rockwool and coco, I will be using 1l of water ph'd to 5.8 that has the following:
    a couple of drops of Superthrive (for the vitamins), 0.5ml
    1.5ml of Formulex (baby plant food)
    0.5ml of Nitrozyme
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Rockwool and coco is soaked in this water for 24 hours to stabalise the ph and to get a little nutrition into the mediums. The nutrient isnt to provide food for the seedlings, it is to help stabalise the ph. I find the buffers in the nutrients help with this.

    The water will just be de-chlorinated tap water, ph'd for the appropriate medium, 6.5 for soil/root riot cubes and 5.8 for the coco and rockwool.

    Occasionally, if a seed fails to germinate using one of the other methods, this can be a useful method.
    With old seeds, it can be best to "scurrify" them first. In nature, seeds are distributed throughout an area by being eaten by birds & animals who then deficate them out elsewhere on their travels, ensuring the seeds spread far & wide.
    While the seeds travel through the creatures gut, they go through stomach acid and goodness knows what.
    To simulate this process, old time growers would use a matchbox with a layer of medium grit sandpaper on the bottom. The seed is then placed inside the matchbox and shaken.
    You will no doubt have read about rubbing the seed case with a piece of sandpaper, this is a far easier way to do it.

    A common misconception among growers is that seeds like very high humidity, they dont, 40% to 55% is about right. Once the seedling it starting to grow, a rh of around 50-60% ensures good growth but propagators/humidity domes are not needed. The biggest drawback with humidity domes, propagators or covering with clingfilm is that they all create perfect conditions for fungus spores to take hold. SO you can end up battling problems before your plants life has really begun.
    With these seeds, due to the pc case they are being germinated in needing high air flow to keep the temps down to 78f, these cause the rockwool and root riot cubes to dry out within a few hours, so I am covering all the mediums with cups so the moisture is retained, NOT to create high humidity.
    I do not put them in place until the seeds have cracked.

    Heat mats are another "tool" I have seen used when germinating seeds. These too should be avoided unless you are germinating outdoors (greenhouse) over winter. The biggest issue with these is the substrate dries out from the bottom, making it more awkward to tell. This can result in the roots dying off while the surface of the substrate appears moist.

    On to the start.

    Glass of water method.(GOW)
    Quite simply, the process here is to soak the seeds in a glass of water, ph'd to 6.5
    This method is most useful for older seeds which can often take a while for the water to penetrate the outer shell. As a seed ages, the amount of water in the hull decreases, meaning older seeds may benefit from this form of germination.
    This method should not be needed with fresh seeds of between 3 months and 3 years old and ideally should be a last resort use.
    Once the seeds sink, it means that the water has got inside the shell and they need to be removed from the water ASAP to prevent "drowning".
    I have some seeds that are over 15 years old. They have been kept in cool, dry places, so they should germinate. I occasionally grow one out but since they are real old school seeds, I like to keep them for posterity and providing the conditions are stable, these seeds can last for a very long time. I have read of seeds several hundreds of years old germinating, so these little things are indeed time capsules.

    Paper towel method.(PT)
    A piece of kitchen rool is folded over and the bottom dampened with some prepared water.
    The seeds placed in the paper towel, which is then folded over to stop light getting to the seeds and another little bit of water poured over the top.
    It is important that access water is drained away so that air can also get to the seed.
    As with the GOW method, this is not an ideal method to use since transplanting can shock the seedling and of course, damage to the tap root may occur.
    The other big drawback with this method is that lack of air can lead to the seed "drowning" and pathogens can take hold such as fungus.
    The big advantage of this method is that new growers are usually impatient. So being able to see signs of life after a day or two from your seeds is just great.
    Also, as with the GOW method, you dont waste medium on dodgy seeds.
    Though Rockwool or root riot cubes are only around 10p each, soil/coco, probably the same, (I have never worked it out), over the years, adding in cuttings etc, this can add up. I hate throwing away something I do not feel I have had use from (miser/ebeneezer and yes I hate xmas).

    Direct Soil method.
    My preferred method when growing in soil.
    I use party cups for this method, prepared the same way as the ones used for the coco.
    The reason for party cups is simply they are small, so not much medium is needed as opposed to going straight into large pots.
    When using large pots for seeds, it is very difficult to guage your watering. Although larger pots are better suited to auto's so they dont have to be potted up, I would still use this method, even for auto's.
    2 clear plastic party cup have some holes drilled in the bottom to provide drainage.
    One is then covered in duct tape to prevent light penetrating it, the other is filled with the soil.
    The soil is then "tapped down" by simply tapping on a firm surface.
    Water is then added to the soil and tapped down again.
    The reason for clear cups is so you can see into the cups.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    2 reasons for this. 1, so you can see if there are air pockets in the soil and 2, as the plant develops, you lift out the inner cup and can see root development. This means you can choose the correct time to pot up.

    I am also using both Trichaderma and mycorrhizae in soil and coco. These little fun guys (get it?) attach themselves to the root structure as it forms and extend the roots, if done properly, by as much as 100% opr even more. More roots = more flowers = more bud.
    The use of these is a little sub experiment, I have places layers in the soil & coco, so it is a layer of medium, then a layer of myco, then more medium, then trichaderma, then more medium, then the seed, covered with medium. SO as the roots grow, they will come into contact with the funghi. Dont know if this will work but felt it was worth a try.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Directly into Coco method.
    Simply a process of filling the cup with coco, tapping down to remove air pockets, then placing the seed and covering with coco.
    It is recommended to plant the seed as deep as its length. These seeds are all planted around 1/4" (6mm) deep.
    On the pages of this forum, there are often comments about the seed case being stuck to the cotelydon or the membrane holding the cotelydon together, preventing them from opening.
    This is because the seed wasnt planted deep enough. The seed NEEDS to force its way through the medium to remove the shell and membrane and strengthen itself.
    Overall, this method is more or less the same as directly into soil. The main difference is once the cotelydon (false leaves) start to discolour/pale, it is time to start applying some nutrients. Formulex will be used as a starter nutrient.
    As with soil, Tricky & Micky are being used in the same method.

    Directly into Root Riot cubes.
    Simply a process of placing the seed into the pre-drilled hole. Many growers make their own hole but I have never found issue with doing this. Once in place, I tear off a small piece of cube to cover over the hole so the seed begins life in darkness. This is not squashed into place, simply "placed" there.Click image for larger version. 

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    The biggest issue with root riot cubes is the speed they can dry out at if there is a lot of air extraction/low humidity.
    As the picture shows, I cover the cube with duct tape, simply to help prevent the drying out. Even if using the cups as covers as I do, they will still dry out in around 48 hours.
    For this reason, I would not use them for seeds. They are ok for cuttings, especially if your end medioum is to be coco or soil.
    On the other hand, though they can be used for hydro methods, I would not recommend because of their tendency to become soggy and retain too much water, which can lead to stem rot(sr). I like my immediate root zone next to the stem to dry a little, simply to encourage the plant to send out more roots and prevent SR.

    Directly into Rockwool method.
    There is little more to say about rockwool that hasnt been said already about the other methods.
    The positive at this stage is they can retain moisture better than Root Riot cubes and are ideal if your end method is hydro.
    On previous experience, I expect this to be the slowest method. I find rockwool great for cuttings but not so great for seeds. However, I may be doing something wrong in the process?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Any suggestions are opinion only. I get some right, I get some wrong but I always try to help.

    How I set up my space?
    Woody's cloning method
    Woody's germinating guide

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  3. #2

    Join Date
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    After 12 hours, the seeds in water have sank, so time to place them in their respective new homes.
    One goes into Rockwool, the other into a Root Riot cube.
    As with the direct methods, the seed is planted to its side, ensuring the seed case & membrane are removed, then a piece of medium is placed over so the seed can start out in darkness.
    Nothing else to report

    After 36 hours, one of the paper towel seeds has sprouted its taproot.
    Very carefully, with a pair of tweezers, I pick up the seed, tring to make sure I do not damage the tap root.
    Attachment 122615
    Damage the tap root at this stage and the game is over. You have killed the seed.
    For this single reason, I do not use the paper towel method.
    I am getting shaky hands and bad eyes, so delicate meanouvering like this is just too much of a liability for the poor seeds.
    As with the direct methods, the seed is planted to its side, ensuring the seed case & membrane are removed, then a piece of medium is placed over so the seed can start out in darkness.

    After 3 days hours, the second seed has cracked and is placed in its final medium of Rockwool

    Now all 8 seeds are showing signs of life, it is a waiting game.
    Attachment 122614

    The coco seeds both show themselves first.
    Cotelydon open on both seeds on day 4. So overnight they started life and have stretched looking for the light.

    DO NOT READ INTO THIS THAT COCO IS A FASTER METHOD FOR GERMINATING SEEDS. Only that in this case, they appeared first.

    I can also see signs of life from the soil seeds with the R/W & RR failing to show yet.

    Due to Mycorrhizae and Trachiderma being used in Soil and Coco, I expect their growth to be much faster than R/W or RR.

    After 5 days, all but one of the rockwool seeds have sprouted. I suspect I may have nicked the taproot on this seed when transplanting so I do what I tell people never to do and that is go digging around looking for planted seeds.
    Since this is an experiment/test, I thought if something goes wrong, I would demonstrate the consequences. I can happily do this because I did not pay for the seeds.
    On digging around, I found the seed has cracked and is opening out slowly but the medium was dry at the point in the cube. I gave it a little water, then re-covered over with medium and wait to see if I have killed it or not.
    If I have, as ever, the squidgy organic part of the process has failed (me!).
    Attachment 122617
    The seedlings are growing nicely now.
    The coco babies are coming on much better than the other media, which has surprised me a little.
    I know how roots love coco but since I have only grown clones in coco before, this is a nice surprise.
    Roots are clearly visible at the sides of the transparent cup after just 6 days in there.

    The soil seeds are almost as developed as the coco ones but roots not yet visible at the cup sides.
    Attachment 122618

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  5. #3

    Join Date
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    Roots emerging from the bottom of the root riot and rockwool cubes though both are very disappointing in terms of development in comparison to the coco & soil ones. This may be because of the funghi I used but I like to think the coco and soil are just better for germinating seeds.
    This is the difficulty, trying not to draw conclusions from such a small sample but the roots clearly love that coco.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    More progress for the coco & soil seedlings with the rockwool lagging behind the root riot cubes still.
    The rockwool seedling got some water today, while the others all got a taste of molasses for the first time.
    Not too strong, just half a tsp in 1l of water, then ph'd. Only a few ml was used in each medium. This is not to feed the seedlings, it is to feed the friendlies in the root zone.
    I am a firm believer that the healthier your roots, the healthier your plant will be. This leads to a solid basis for growing big fat buds.

    It appears that yesterdays molasses was liked by all since all the plants just seem better today? That could be wishful thinking though?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    My plan is to take the seedlings through to transplanting to the next stage. With the coco & soil, this will be dictated by the roots activity. Once the roots are starting to head down the pots, I will transplant.
    With the RR & RW, transplanting can be much earlier, I like a good bunch of roots coming through before transplanting into an appropriate hydro setup.

    The coco seedlings are now onto their 3rd set of full leaves, 4th just visible.
    The Root Riot have their 4th set of leaves pointing upwards but the root growth is not as prolific or the leaves themselves are a little smaller.
    The soil are more or less in between the RR & Coco, with the r/w lagging well behind.
    With the rockwool, this is my fault, the medium is far too damp so the cover has been removed in the hope of drying it out a bit.
    I do not like squeezing the cubes for fear of crushing the structure of the medium but now also for fear of crushing roots as well. I dont want to shock the seedling.

    With the nice mass of roots coming through the Root Riot seedlings, I would now be transplanting if I were keeping these babies.
    At this statge, if transplanting into soil or coco, I would sprinkle a little Trichaderma onto the roots and also a little mycorrhizae in the medium where they will be in contact with the roots.
    Likewise with the Rockwool, With a good bunch of roots, I would now be transplanting into their home. Depending on which hydro method I would be using, they would be going into clay pellets, probably ina netpot.
    The main point about transplanting is to bury the main stem up to around an inch below the cotelydons. This allows for getting to the lower branches later on if pruning (when lollypopping for instance) or for lst training. You dont want too much stem however, as this can result in thin weak stems unable to support those huge fat buds on them.
    As it is, now is the time to say goodbye to both root riot and rockwool seedlings. They have served their purpose.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If you look closely at the Coco seedlings, you can see the green is not as dark as on the other mediums. Also, the cotelydon are quite pale green. This tells me it is now time for these to be fed. The others still look ok, the cotelydon are still dark and the leaves are quite dark too.
    I will be feeding 1/4 strength Formulex (1.25ml per l) with 1/2 strength RootFast (0.5ml per l) and 1/4 strenth Nirtozyme (0.5ml per l). This sounds a lot of products and it is! I want to encourage fast root growth as I see this as the key to large, high yielding healthy plants. I am also a bit of a product junkie!
    These are optional of course and my main reason for using them is to demonstrate how and when to use them without going overkill.
    I firmly believe these plants would do just fine without them, however I want them to really thrive since I have decided to keep the Coco girls.

    Day 13, Disaster strikes!
    While watering the seedlings, I accidentally touch the tube of the 300W cfl and it instantly blows.
    I go to get my spare 250W, Blue spectrum CFl and drop it. That is blown too.
    SO I have to return the seedlings to their former home of the pc case. The main problem with this is purely the lack of light. They were coming along nicely so now I have to wait until a replacement bulb arrives. Today is Thursday and the new bbulb wont be here until Monday or Tueseday.
    I am at a family thing over the weekend so I hope there are no more problems.

    Back again and there were more issues.
    The soil seedlings dried out a bit while I was away. I had put extra bulbs in the pc case and turned the ventilation on but forgot to cover the cups. This dried them out fast.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    We are now on day 18 since I started this guide. The coco seedlings have done ok, though I would have expected them to have more development had they remained under the 300W light.
    New light is here but I need to collect it. (There is a good tip for you. NEVER have anything connected with growing delivered to your home address, especially lights, fans cf's and seeds)
    Tomorrow is transplant day for both.
    As you can see, the root mass on the coco is very good compared to the soil. However, since the soil dried out a bit and started eating itself, this will have shocked the seedling, causing the difference in development. Before the bulb blowing and me being away, they were neck & neck. So this demonstrates how just a couple of days shock at this stage can hamper seedling development.
    The soil seedlings will now be transplanted into some buckets and be hardened off to go in a friends greenhouse, the coco ones will become my next grow.
    The coco ones will be going into my existing rDWC setup but in large pots, so the end result will be a sort of rdwc/water farm with coco. I just hope I dont get too much coco clogging pumps etc.
    I have made a small filter for the pump, which should hopefully stop this. I will also be using enzymes which may also help.

    One last thing.
    I sometimes top my seedlings early, now is the time I would be doing it, after the 4th internode. A single cut, removing the new growth but leaving the leaves at the point marked in the pic.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I hope you find this guide useful.
    Peace & happy growing.

    Only for older seeds.
    soaking seeds in water/wet paper tissue

    Don't use
    humidity dome/mini-greenhouse/propagator fully covered
    heating mats too hot
    cover pots with plastic
    wrong soil for germination
    Nutrients to germinate seedlings
    too much/too little water
    cold and dark germination room
    cold outdoor temperatures; frost
    wrong pH of water
    bad water quality
    high EC of nutrient solution in hydroponics
    spray seedlings with water/organic teas/pesticides

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  7. #4

    Join Date
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    Nice and descriptive TY
    A dog is not just for Christmas. If you're really careful, you can still be making stews mid January.
    Reply With Quote

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  9. #5

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    fantastic timing for me personally but this could/should be quickest sticky ever on thctalk lol
    thanks woody

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  11. #6
    jimmi420 Guest


    Nice, ive never used seeds only cutts, but im thinking of giving a few new strains a go, cheers , great idea.

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  13. #7

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    Just germed four nemesis seeds in rockwool but lifted the stuffing bit off and all 4 have got their tap roots so for a first time this method am well chuffed

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  15. #8
    jimmi420 Guest


    coco is the dogs bollox, imo the best medium hands down for growing ganja, its great disease resistance, speed of growth and you dont get overwatering probs , the canna range is already loaded with trichorderma so a great product . Its a great way of growing for beginers as well as its very forgiving of mistakes.

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  17. #9
    Doubie Guest


    having afew issues with the attached pics not all showing? But great guide woody I've been considering toying with rockwool cubes

  18. #10

    Join Date
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    Personally, I would not use rockwool for seeds any more. Each of the other methods seem to be much more effective.
    I have been doing a repeat of this with just rockwool and coco and coco is kicking rockwools ass bug time.

    On the other hand, I prefer rockwool for cuttings

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