The Planting Process

Seedlings in multiple pots of soil at the beginning of the planting process

The Planting Process

The Planting Process

February 26, 2021

Right, so you have set up a beautiful system and you are ready for some plants. There are a few things to remember when adding plants to your aquaponic system. If you are breaking in a new system then you will first have to cycle your system before adding the fish. However, if your system is settled and sturdy then let’s look at the planting process.

First thing’s first, you need to decide if you want to sow your seeds or buy seedlings. Sowing and germination are two high-risk processes and if not carried out correctly can lead to plant loss. It’s important to keep this in mind if you are a start-up commercial grower that needs to save every possible penny.

Sowing your seeds

If you are a hobby grower then why not challenge yourself to sow your own seeds? There are three main factors to control when sowing your seeds:

Depth of Seeding

Different seeds require to be planted at different depths to ensure consistent germination. Make sure you are aware of the seeding depth requirements for the cultivar that you wish to germinate.

Seedling Mix

A seedling mix is probably the most crucial part of your planting process. We recommend a 50/50 mixture of vermiculite-compost-peat mix.

Seed Temperature

Certain seeds germinate at specific temperatures, it is, therefore, important to ensure that your seeds are stored at the correct temperature. Once sown, you need to keep the soil is at the optimal temperature in order to induce germination.

Seeding moisture level

Your seeding mix needs to be at the optimal moisture level. Too much moisture can cause rotting of the roots and too little can prevent germination altogether.

Maintaining a humid environment is essential for germination to take place. Our trick is to cover the whole seeding tray in plastic sheeting. Different plants have different germination periods so just follow the above and be patient. We promise the reward is worth the wait.

Two hands holding seeds as part of the first step of the planting process.

Seedling Management

Seedlings are more costly than seeds however, they have less room for error when it comes to planting them into your system. Start with a good quality seedling from a trustworthy source. Transplanting your seedling depends on the produce you are growing. Some cultivars need to be kept in their seedling trays longer than others before transplanting them into your system. Usually, when you can see 2 to 3 true leaves your babies are ready for their big move.

At around 3-5 weeks (on average) of germination, you can float your seedling tray in a mild nutrient solution or your deep water culture but make sure that the seedlings are still protected from direct sunlight with a grey shade net.

Green Seedlings in a seedling tray as the second part of the planting process

Transplanting

Similarly to humans, any abrupt change can cause stress for a plant and that shock can become more severe in older seedlings. You need to find that sweet spot where your seedlings are strong enough to take the stress but not too old to experience unnecessary shock.

At this point, we like to give our seedlings a little boost with a dip of extra nutrients and a natural method of disease and pest control. If you are ready to place your plants in your grow bed of choice.

Here are some planting tips:

  • Roots must always hang down vertically.
  • Different plants have different spacing requirements, plan out your beds or rafts to prevent your plants from being restricted.
  • Take note of how deep you should plant your plant if you are planting it into a media or wicking bed.
  • Plant your taller plants on the far side of your system to prevent them from shading other plants in your system.
People transplanting plants as part of the planting process in aquaponics

Good quality produce can always be traced back to plant health management. Now that you know your planting process you still need to ensure that you are going to manage your plant health throughout its lifecycle. Take a look at our plant deficiencies blog post to make sure you are ready for any obstacle ahead.

Happy planting!