Time then to whip out our packages of seeds and get to work. But how do you best set to work, to get these tiny, fragile seeds to grow without problems into small plants? That there are many different methods you already know, as you also know that everyone has their own favourite particular method. What do seeds need to germinate successfully?
The three keywords are warmth, moisture and darkness. When we give moisture to the seed then the tiny root that is curled up inside the seed start growing and sets off in search of more moisture. Because this root rapidly increases in size, the case or hull of the seed soon breaks open. The first to appear is the fragile little root which may be small but has a strong ambition to grow as fast as possible into a fine cannabis tree. The growing power of a cannabis seed cannot be underestimated. Seeds have the ability to develop very rapidly; within just 12-36 hours of moisture being given to the seed the root will have popped out.
Kitchen paper method
One of the most common methods of germinating seeds is the wet kitchen paper method and its variations. In this, we lay the seeds on a damp, absorbent piece of paper or cotton wool. Thanks to the moisture absorbency of the kitchen paper it is pretty easy to make sure that the seeds receive a continuous supply of moisture. If the kitchen paper is too dry you just have to add a drop more to make it moist once again almost immediately.
It is important to keep the seeds moist but not wet. When you keep the seeds wet, then the rootlet will not go off in search of more water, and so grow more slowly, since it has all the water it needs right where it is, thanks. By keeping it too dry you run the risk of killing the root. Getting it just right is difficult to achieve with this method since the kitchen paper is always either too wet or too dry. But it does work outstandingly well, though some beginners do manage to kill a few seeds in the process.
Direct in medium
A second method of germinating is to get the seed straight into growing in its intended medium, having first soaked it in water laced with root stimulator for a few hours. After this soaking, pop the seed straight into its soil, coco or whatever. We plant the seed 5-10 millimetres deep in the medium.
By not planting the seed too deep it can quickly emerge into the light, and so begin to grow. Another good reason why we don't plant the seed deeper is that any deeper and it risks remaining wet for too long and the seed may start to rot. The upper surface of the medium dries out the quickest and so we need to take care to keep it moist. 'Moist' here means that we wait until the upper layer is drying out, and once this is happening, give it more water (and if using it, root stimulator).
In other words, don't give the medium more water if it is still wet. If you do, you will keep the medium wet rather than moist and give your seeds a good chance of rotting. Some people choose this method because it causes a minimum of stress to the seeds and the rootlet can dive straight into the medium and begin developing. Fairly clumsy growers can damage the rootlet during its planting when they are using the kitchen paper method. The best way of planting the germinated seed is to poke a small hole with your finger.
Make this wet. Quickly lay your seed into the hole. Because the soil is nice and wet it is safe to press the seed gently into the soil without any problem. Cover with a fine layer of soil and add again a very small amount of water(10 ml). So that the seed can anchor itself, don't give too heavy a slurp of water; if you do, you risk washing the seed too deep and again exposing it to the risk of rotting.
Stone wool blocks
Don't forget that with the methods used above the temperature plays a very important role in the germination success. An ideal temperature is for it to remain constantly between 20- 25 degrees. Try to find a way to keep your seeds constantly above 20 degrees then. You can do this by using a warming mat, which is a small mat that you plug into the mains and which keeps itself at a constant 20-22 degrees. This is a cheap and effective way of keeping your seeds at the right temperature. I prefer to use a warmer such as the Bionair placed in a small cupboard.
This warmer can be programmed for example to stay at 25 degrees, and because we have placed it inside a cupboard it has to do a lot less work to keep your seeds at that temperature. Inside your cupboard you will create a minitropical climate. Another method I still use because it so effective and easy, is the stone wool block method. We put the seeds in to stone wool blocks and soak them once with water laced with root stimulator added. We now stick the wet stone wool blocks with seeds in them in a plastic tray with a lid, one that's also called a dome.
Such a tray or dome makes sure that the air moisture content remains high - so there's no reason to add more water until the seedlings emerge. I put the tray of course in the tropically heated cupboard at the right temperature, which being controlled by the automatic heating needs little-to-nothing more doing for a successful germination. You will see within one two days, the seeds will germinate. After four days you'll have seedlings of several centimetres in height.
What's important now is to make sure the seedlings get enough light. But it is pitch dark in the cupboard, since the seedlings germinate best in a dark environment, I hear you say. Well, once they have sprung up we need to make sure they get as much light as possible so that they develop as rapidly as possible in cannabis bushes.
So remove the seedlings when they get to 4-5 centimetres high from their smaller sister seedlings and plant them in your medium of choice. If you have sown them in stone wool blocks you will find this transplanting easy, and the tender root will remain protected throughout the operation. The stone wool blocks with sprouted seedlings in them can now be placed one by one into your start-up growing space.
A good start is solid gold!
We are now a few days to a week further down the line and thanks to one of the above methods, we have successfully raised a few seedlings. Do not expect a 100% germination of all seeds; they are still living things and sometimes there can well be a few seeds that are duds. Always start with the assumption that this will be so and sow a few extra than you anticipate using.
If they all come out, so much the better! The small seedlings will now be trying to develop into gorgeous green ladies as fast as they can. By putting them under HPS lamp(s) they will get all the light they need, and therefore the energy with which to grow speedily. The first week it will seem as if little is happening, since the plants still have very few leaves and an undeveloped root system. With the passage of time the plants will grow more leaves and in each case start growing faster and faster.
The process is comparable to an old-fashioned diesel train that slowly starts rolling but eventually hits full speed. The leaves of the plant function as solar panels and the more solar panels it has the more energy it can produce and the faster it can increase its growth rate. Such is its efficiency you can almost see a change from day to day, with visible growth. It is very important in this beginning phase to make sure there is sufficient light, warmth and moisture.
By keeping the moisture level high the plants can more easily develop leaf cover. We can raise the air moisture level by letting the air extractor pump a little slower, or even leave it off in the first weeks, or we can use an air humidifier. As the plants grow in size they use more and more water and so their need for watering becomes greater. The used water evaporates out of their leaves and straight into the grow space, so this automatically keeps the air humidity high.
In contrast to growing with clones, we do not need to hang the lamps too high over the plants, as seed-grown plants can handle the intensity of light better than a freshly-cut clone of a female cannabis plant. A seed plant would receive in nature the full strength of the sun on it, and has adapted to find this just lovely. You have probably read all over the place about having to keep your lamps hanging at least 60 centimetres above your plants when they are starting out, but then they were talking about clones and not seedgrown plants.
So when do we need to start feeding them? This depends on the medium in which you are growing them. But certainly not in the first few days, whatever the medium. If you're growing in soil, this will have sufficient nutrients in it for at least two weeks. Coco by its very nature contains no nutrients and so after about a week you will need to start giving your plants food. It is very easy to see at what point your plants need food as they will ask for it themselves.
After a short period the green leaves will turn a lighter shade of green, which is their way of saying that there is less nutrient left in the medium and now could they have some more please? As a beginner you will probably not notice this subtle hint, and if you wait too long then you will see the plants start to turn yellow. This really is not serious and nothing to get worked up about. The plant is making it very clear that she has a shortage of nutrients.
Most probably a shortage of nitrogen, one of the most important building blocks for a good growth development of the plant. By giving food to the plant you will see the yellowing leaves rapidly return to a healthy green. The shortage has been removed and the plant has replenished her leaves with all the necessary building materials. Depending on how serious a deficit, the return to normal can take a whole day, or just a few hours.
In order that you do not make things any harder for yourself than they need to be, it is best to start your first ever harvest in soil so that you get to know the plant better. Doing so means you do not have to start immediately feeding in the first few weeks, and you have less chance of screwing things up too quickly as a result. The grow period in which the plant now finds itself requires that we have the lamps on for 18 hours with a six hours night sleep. This time schema matches the longest day of the year and normally the sunniest, the 21 June. We allow the plants to think that every day is the longest, sunniest day of the year.
Enjoy your plant
During the first weeks, when your plants are happily developing in their pots or tubs full of earth-mix, there's not a lot to do except enjoy the view. While in the first week you will marvel at how little progress seems to being made, from the second week on you will asking yourself how they can grow so damn quickly.
The art of growing consists mostly of the time you spend giving attention to your plants, and thus involves spending time with them. Follow the development of them with care - especially the first time, you do not want to miss how that teeny-tiny little sprout so quickly transforms into a flourishing cannabis bush with the best quality dope you've ever wrapped your lungs around!Home grown Rocks!