How To Germinate Autoflowers (Week 1)
Strap in and get ready because we’re going to learn all about germinating auto flowers. So for the first week, the only thing we’re going to be giving our plants is water. With that in mind, we bought a pH meter and calibrated it. Fortunately for us, our meter came with a few packets of powder that would set the pH of a specified amount of water to a precise number, allowing the meter to know what it was looking at. Oh, and by the way, learn from our mistakes.
Use distilled water when doing this step or you’ll likely have inaccurate readings and have to recalibrate it later as we did. Of course, the meter would be invaluable to both us and what we were trying to achieve.
For those of you who don’t know, cannabis is roughly 90% water. That said, the water we supply our plants with is about as important as it comes and, if it’s off, it can significantly hurt the delicate life you’re trying to bring into this world.
In order to prevent this, one of the first and most important things you can look at is pH. In short, pH simply measures the acidity of your water. Now things are a bit different for soil, so if that’s what you plan to grow with, I wouldn’t use these numbers. Planning to grow using hydroponics, we filled two jars with dechlorinated water, set the pH to 5.5, and dropped our bean.
From there we stuck them into our grow tent with the lights off and let them sit for about 18 hours in darkness. After taking the jars out of the tent, we poured our seeds onto a paper towel, but then we noticed something rather surprising. Come to find out the process had already begun. Our beans were already starting to pop. As exciting as that was though, it was time to wrap them back up and plunge them back into darkness. The next step was to wrap them in a wet paper towel.
Now for those of you who don’t know, you want the towel to be wet, but not soaked in a puddle. In fact, you can roll the edges up as we did and soak them down with a little more water, allowing them to act as a candle wick, keeping the entire surface wet for longer. In the end, you need to make sure they stay wet over the next 36 hours, meaning that you’ll have to soak them down from time to time.
With the hard work far from over, the next step takes a bit of finesse. At this stage, the girls are at their most delicate meaning that you’ll need to take the utmost care when you handle them. When removing the paper towels go slow. As we’ve learned, some of the roots had already started to attach themselves to the fabric of the cloth. That said, the feeling to see that these seeds were coming to life really was like no other.
Just like that, it was time to get these ladies into their forever homes. Five-gallon buckets are full of coco quar. Before that could happen though, we would have to do a little mixing after dumping the coco into totes and breaking up the large chunks that had compacted over time and transit. Eyeballing it, we added about 10 or 15% perlite and got mixing.
With everything set. We grabbed our germinated seeds and got ready to transplant. Now, some people say that the seed should be placed in your medium with the taproots pointed down at a 45-degree angle, but others suggest you just point them straight down. That said, we went with the latter.
Now, remember these problems we mentioned earlier? One quickly surfaced but took us a few days to figure out. Although things had started out fine, we started to notice quite a bit of positive air pressure in our grow tent. We tried a few things, including adjusting the settings on our inline fans, but as it turns out, we just needed to look up. At first, we thought the pre-filter was losing its color from the UV rays coming off our grow lights, but that wasn’t it at all. Come to find out, the pre-filters were jammed up with so much crap that it was restricting the airflow leaving our tent. As a result, the air was being pushed in easier than it was being forced out. To this day, I’m not exactly sure if it was white dust from the perlite being blown around or the calcium in the water being vaporized into the tent. Long story short, keep an eye on these for when they need to be cleaned. All we did was run it through the washer on delicate, and this was all that was needed to allow the fans to function like normal again.
With the tent running, these ladies breached the surface and took off running. Well, almost all of them. For some reason, we ran into some trouble with one of our ladies. Knowing that they all germinated and seeing that one of the girls didn’t come up for air, we started to get concerned. After carefully pushing away the coco, we found what appeared to be a sick plant under the surface. Fortunately, we got to it on time, were able to reposition it so that its leaves were exposed to the light, and after a few days began to show signs of progress.
Although the seed kicked out one of the biggest tap roots in the bunch, I just couldn’t let her take up so much room in the tent and opted to swap her out with a larger plant that I was growing in a smaller cup. Seeing how I was able to get a hundred percent germination, I didn’t want to waste what I had, and a good thing I didn’t. Sadly, our biggest mistake was yet to come.
As a test, let me ask, do you see anything wrong with this picture? Unfortunately, we didn’t either.
That is until one of the ladies did this. Frantically searching for answers, we hit the internet before learning that this is what they call stretching. In essence, this happens when your plants are starving for sunlight. With a built-in self-defense mechanism, cannabis seedlings will stretch themselves as tall as they can to get above nearby ground cover. However, they have no need to fight like this, and it was entirely our fault. And that’s when it clicked. We forgot to lower our lights. Seeing how the lights should be around 24 inches (0.61 m) from the top of our canopy at this stage in their life, we rushed to our tents and put them where they should have been all along. Quickly, we braced the toppled girl and hoped for the best. Although she looks just fine, we may have caused them some unnecessary stress and that’s not something we’re too happy about.
Fortunately, next week is all about nutrients. Good luck!