Germination is the first step to start a run. If you start from seed I would count the moment you put the seed into moisture to activate it as Day One in the vegetative state (D1V) of the grow. This is important to know, to keep track of your grow. After you have chosen the right genetics for your operation and a working setup its go time!
How to germinate Seeds
It does not seem very important how you do it. Do it the way you are the most comfortable with. Success depends on the age, storage properties and quality of seeds.
The Pros way: Paper towel method
The paper towel method is a good way to keep an eye on your babies while having full control over the properties. The items I am using include:
- Paper towels (kitchen paper, toilet paper, handkerchief…)
- pH-measurement device (cheap option or reliable stripes)
- Depending on you water: carbonized water or lemon concentrate to alter the pH value. Tap water is usually a bit basic. Change that!
- The lid of an old jam glass as some kind of petri dish.
Unfold the paper, and place it into the lid. Sprinkle some water in there. place the seeds in the middle and fold back the paper towel. Thats it! Keep the petri dish in a dark and warm (about 25°C – 28°C) environment and wait. The lid is a great way to keep the paper towel moist. Do not wet it too much! The initial root needs some motivation to search for moisture and will grow better that way.
Advantages of the paper towel method
You have full control over the process and you can look at the seedling soaking up moisture and grow every day, and more important you can check seeds that don’t germinate and sort them out from the start. You are also able to use a lot of different grow media with this method. The seedling could be placed into a hydroponics setup aswell as soil-like media.
Disadvantages of the paper towel method
You need to interact more with the seed. Once its sprouted you need to place it into your grow medium and this could potentially be very risky. Im always using a pincette to do that. It is better to not have to interact with the plant at that stage.
It is also possible that the small root hairs that grow out of the main root will get stuck in the paper towel fibers. If you remove the paper towel to hasty you could rip apart the whole root. So be careful!
You will also have a hard time distinguish strains, if you have only one lid available.
Jiffy pot method
This is also a great way to do it! Jiffy pots are small pellets that get soaked with pH regulated water. Once it reaches it maximum size you can just put in a seed and wait. Keep the pot moist at all times until the seed sproutes. The material of the pot is actually designed for root penetration. Once you see roots coming out of the sides you can put the seeds with the pot into a bigger container.
Advantages of the jiffy pot method
You can actually distinguish different strains by putting name tags into the pots. You also dont have to interact with the seeds after putting them into the pot, that reduces the risk of killing them by transplanting. Its also possible to use the jiffy for different grow media. Hydro and soil alike. Do not use jiffys in high pressure aeriponic setups.
Disadvantages of the jiffy pot method
If you are not sure that the seed is actually germinating you cannot look at that easy. That way you might wait for a seedling to sprout that is not even germinating. This could cause frustration. In high pressure aeroponic setup debris from the pot can fall into the water circulation, clogging your system. Use rockwool instead.
Method 3: Put the seed right away into its final container
Thats also possible. Considering the timeframe from activation to sprout to first green it can take up to 14 days until something is happening. Since you should NEVER EVER look for the seed in your medium this could potentially be a game of luck considering that a cannabis seed is inherently more valuable than a tomato seed if bought from a breeding company. You just keep the medium moist and wait, until you see it sprout. I would suggest you turn the lights on AFTER the seed shows itself.
Advantages of method 3
No interaction with the seed reduces the risk of loosing it to poor handling. Less transplantation means less stress which is good for the plant.
Disadvantages of method 3
As stated before, this is potentially a game of luck: You never know if the seed just took its time to get sprouted. You might even end up with two plants in the same pot if you decide to use another seed in there. It is also more difficult to dial in the right amount of moisture to get everything done. Keep in mind that moist is better than wet in that case…
Cheap Hydroponic start
IKEA offers a 4$ starter kit for seedlings. It works great if you add some air stones to keep the solution oxygenated. Rockwool and hydrostones are also available dirt cheap there. If you want to germinated in rockwool and still want to be able to change the environment of the plant, this could be your choice!
Germination Tips & Tricks
The Cookie Box
Place your seeds in an old cookie box, or something similar thats opaque and can be sealed. It keeps the moisture in there, and you do not need to remoisture it every other day.
Use excess heat
Your PC, TV or is creating a nice amount of heat. Place your seedlings on there to make it nice and warm for them. If you do not seal the seeds in a some kind of enclosure this kind of heat will dry out paper towels. This is why I am using the glass lids: You can create a pool of water in there that will take a lot longer to evaporate!
24 hours in water
This is done by alot of growers: Just submerge the seeds 24 hours in pH corrected water. The seeds will soak very effective in that time. After that you just use one of the methods above and make sure that the environment is more moist than wet.
Rougen up the surface
George Cervantes is one of the godfathers of growing weed. In one of his books he describes his method of preparation: Put the seeds in a match box and shuffle them a bit. The surface will be roughed up and can soak up the moisture better. I never did that tho, but George knows his shit obviously!
When is my seed ready to get potted?
Assuming you used a method, where you just watched the seed germinate you will notice that the initial root coming out of it. Since its possible to place it right away into a grow medium it really does not matter when you put it in.
I WOULD WAIT AT LEAST UNTIL THE ROOT HAS A LENGTH OF 0.5 cm to 1 cm TO GET STARTED!
This way you can maximize the probability of success.
What is so important about the pH, can’t I just use tap water?!
I could and probably will write lenghty articles about the importance of pH values in growing weed. In short: Cannabis loves a slightly acidic root environment. This means 6.0 to 6.5 for soil and 5.5 to 6.0 for hydroponic setups.
This is a question of optimazation, and a pH meter plus some additives to regulate it are a meaningful and cheap resource of optimazation.
If you do not care pH lockouts of several important nutrient sources are the result. Spend the ten bucks for some pH-down and some pH test stripes and never care anymore.
I did everything you said, but I some seeds just don’t wanna sprout 🙁
Dont worry! There is not a 100% success rate on germination. This can have several reasons. Bigger seeds tend to be more sproutable than smaller ones. If you have problems sprouting seeds a good breeding company will replace your order with new ones. Just write them a nice email, instead of flaming their product in the reviews and you are fine.
I put my seeds into the towel yesterday and nothing happend!
Dude, relax! The first virtue to develop while growing your own weed is PATIENCE. You cannot imagine how often you will get tested on that. It can take up to seven days for a root to show from the seedling. And another seven days from planting the rooted seedling into a medium until you see the sprout! Give it some time and be rewarded later. ITS WORTH IT!