What would be the best way to plant a sprouting seed in aquaponics?

Q:

What would be the best way to plant a sprouting seed in aquaponics? Mesh pot with rockwool or stonewool? Or just clay pebbles surround the seedling?

A:

Great question! I take it to mean that you have a seed that has already germinated and is ready for transplant into your system versus successfully sprouting a seed that is directly sown into the media. The “easy” answer is that if you have a healthy seedling and a clean system, you should be able to plant your sprout into any of the media that you have mentioned.

I personally prefer rockwool for starting out plants for hydroponics (both for direct seeding and transplanting), because I like the support the plant gets before it has fully rooted out and can support itself. Many growers have luck directly sowing into clay pebbles, but unless you do this routinely or until you have enough practice setting the transplants in without damaging the roots, I would suggest wrapping a small wad of paper towel or other absorbent material, even a wad of cotton, to help hold the seedling in place until it roots into its new home.

Don’t be alarmed if there is a delay in noting any growth for even a few weeks while your transplant adapts to its new home, so long as everything else is in balance (light, temperature, pH, and electrical conductivity). If you are, however, looking for quicker turnarounds, such as for commercial production, direct sowing will usually reduce the time from seed to harvest. If you are just starting out or a hobby grower, starting with transplants are a good way to get your “feet wet” or rather your plants’ roots wet.

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Written by Chris Bond
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Chris Bond is the manager of the McKay Farm and Research Station at Unity College in Maine. His research interests are with sustainable agriculture, biological pest control as well as alternative growing methods. He is a certified permaculture designer and certified nursery technician in Ohio and a certified nursery professional in New York, where he got his start in growing.

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