Different Types Of Plugs For Starting Seeds In Commercial Vertical Hydroponics
The way that we plant our seeds and the best kind of mediums for transplanting seedlings into our towers, specifically for indoor growers. If you don't have heavy aeration. There is a couple of alternative to just using regular potting mixes or germination mixes.
1. Flexible Plugs
This is the most popular all of those. There are a few different manufacturers that are making these now, but they're very interesting. These area peat products or a coir product that is bound with a polymer. They put the kind of a plasticky rubbery material in there and it actually binds all of the fibers together. They can actually incorporate a lot of slow release fertilizers into these types of things.
So that these plugs there are actually, they can basically put all of the fertilizer for starting your seeds in these things. You can ditch the whole hydroponic aspect of your seed starting, which is kind of nice. These are great little plugs and you'll see how they compress which makes them a great fit for towers. Because they'll compress very nicely going in and they're really nice and easy to deal with.
The one drawback to these is they aren't as compostable as just say growing mix or something like that or regular potting or germination mix. They're a great material and they're very popular with a lot of people who grow with ZipGrow towers indoor and out.
The one drawback to these is they can get a little pricey if you're buying them in small quantities. In large quantities, they're still fairly pricey if you can just compare them to traditional germination mixes or something like that. They're well worth the money if you're doing things in kind of a small and medium scale. They're very easy to work with. When I think small scale, typically we're talking several hundred to several thousand of these plugs. A larger scales would be 10 thousand to 100s of thousands of these, at that scale.
There are a lot of things you can do with these. They can be really useful to you and I would definitely think about getting together with some other growers if you're thinking about ordering these to try and get a better price.
It's basically a type of rock that they cook at a really high temperature and run through a machine that spins it out into a fiber and you end up with this product. It's also used as insulation, right. It's a great product by and large for seed starting and especially for cloning if you're doing a lot of cloning.
It's one of those things that I would tend towards more of a more natural product like peat or coir over Rockwool most of the time simply. Because this stuff does not biodegrade, it doesn't breakdown. It will go a landfill and it will be here till the end of time. That's always a little concerning when we create things that last forever and ever, that always concerns me a little bit.
It comes in a lot of different ways. One of these ways is these little cubes. Basically, each little piece will tear off. If you drop your seed in the hole in the top, it just kind of tears away and you can transplant the seedling with the plugin it. It's handy stuff. It's nice because it holds itself together and you don't really need a plug tray or anything like that. We just use trays for our seedling station. The seedlings will grow in this, tear them off to transplant them. It's handy. It's a useful material.
The only drawbacks are that it can get kind of pricey at scale and it's doesn't breakdown, it will be here forever and ever. That is definitely something to consider when you're thinking about the different types of growing medium that you can use.
3. Jiffy Pellets
Jiffy pellets can be used and they're great. I've just found them to be a little pricey and a little hard to handle. If we could get them in bulk and if we had the automation equipment to automate planting Jiffy pellets they would be great. I really like Jiffy pellets.
Oasis is another thing that people ask about. In our opinion, Oasis products they tend to smash up when they're compressed within the towers. And you end up with plastic bits in your system which isn't always the best thing in the world. We tend to advise people to avoid Oasis products and focus more on Jiffy or peat pellets that type of thing. That is when the Rockwool or the polymer bound FlexiPlugs aren't your things.
5. Bare root plants
Bare root plants, you can do bare root especially if you're using wicking strips, you can definitely use bare root plants. The problem is transplanting. A lot of people will grow them out in a hydrogen system and when they pull the seedlings out they'll just sprinkle seeds when they pull the seedlings they actually damage a lot of roots.
The shock going into your system when you plant that bare root plant can be pretty significant and slow down your product cycle, we're talking several days. Aeroponic, folks that are doing mist systems or high-pressure aero, something like that. They take their plant and they plant in these systems, that's not the best way to transplant those plugs. Because it will again damage your root system and you end up with some seedling shock which slows down your production cycle.
Of all of the things, we do recommend starting your seedling in some type of growing medium. Whether it is something like Rockwool, whether it is FlexiPlug, whatever it ends up being if it's in a plug, some type of contained thing for the root system that's always going to be better than going with bare root. Once you transplant those things they're just going to root out really fast and they're going to take off and you're going to be really happy with the results.