Starting Seeds for Your Hydroponic Garden
A Farmish Kind of Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. You can view our full affiliate disclosure here.
Lettuce is such an easy way to get started in hydroponics and learn more about the process of hydroponic gardening. There’s lots of information all over the internet, but here’s how we start our seeds and get it all going!
Note: this method works for many kinds of seeds, but lettuce is easy to start with in a hydroponic garden.
Supplies to start seeds in our hydroponic system
- your DIY hydroponic garden set up
- seeds (we’ve found the most luck with butterhead/bibb or loose leaf lettuce)
- seed starting trays
- grow lights (We have several Barrina lights, and one similar to this big square grow light)
Steps to start seeds in our hydroponic system
- Break off sections of rockwool needed for your planting adventure. Run some water over the rockwool, making sure the tops of the rockwool get soaked, then let the rockwool sit for 5-10 minutes in some extra water.
2. Plant seeds in rockwool, one seed in each hole. I’ve found a damp sharpened pencil lead to be helpful in getting a single seed from my palm to where I want it in the rockwool.
3. Proceed as you would when starting any seeds for a traditional dirt garden. Put the planted rockwool under light, add water when necessary to keep the rockwool moist, and check (obsessively) every day to see if seeds have sprouted. (The picture below is after I’d just added very moist rockwool to the seed tray. but you can also see the water line around the edge of the seed tray, showing that there’s normally water sitting in the tray.)
I don’t know what magic makes it happen, but the hydroponics system makes everything happen more quickly. Seeds tend to sprout faster and plants grow faster– which means you get your goodies faster!
A couple tips for starting seeds for your hydroponic garden
While I always like to plant a few extra seeds—in case some don’t germinate or there are issues when transplanting the starts into the hydroponic system—it’s important to remember that (for most of us) this is a much smaller scale operation than we’re used to with an outside garden. Resist the urge to plant all the things—unlike me, as shown in this pic from the very first time I started lettuce seeds for our hydroponic system. Our hydro system has space for 24 plants. What was I thinking?
Start small; you can always increase the size of your DIY hydroponic garden after you figure things out.
Also, starting seeds for larger plants is the same exact process. However, transplanting seedlings into your hydroponic garden may be slightly (but only slightly) different depending on what size container they’ll be spending their life in—tote, five gallon bucket, 50 gallon barrel.
Excited about DIY hydroponic gardening?
Check out my posts on:
- the next step… transplanting seedlings into your hydroponic system
- 9 Benefits of Hydroponic Gardening
- Our DIY hydroponic garden system
- 5 lessons learned in my first year of hydroponic gardening