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6 Steps For Taking Perfect Cuttings

If speeding up your crop cycle is important to you, then check out our guide to propagation.

Follow our advice and you’ll be harvesting healthy, higher yielding plants quicker than ever before.

Seed Germination V’s Cutting Propagation – Which is faster?

It really depends on the type of plant. Some will root faster than others.

Anything woody, will take longer, (sometimes a lot longer) to root/propagate from cuttings than if started from a seed. Whereas cuttings from a tomato will root much faster than if growing from a seed.

If speed is of the essence, you need to consider the type of plant you’re dealing with and choose the correct method to speed up your plants’ growth.

Variety or Uniformity?

If you’re looking for a bit of variety from your plants, then propagating from seed is the best thing for you. The seeds will look the same, but genetically they will be quite diverse.

For uniformity propagate from cuttings. They’ll be genetically identical to the mother plant you’ve taken them from.

Propagating Cuttings

There’s not always a need to propagate from seed. You can also take cuttings from a mother plant and use those.

When cut correctly from the mother plant your cutting can develop roots that can create a new plant.

Because the cell make up of your cutting is identical to the plant you’ve taken it from, they’ll also be genetically identical to the mother plant.

This is particularly helpful to growers looking to replicate a plant that has given them a particularly high yield or tasty fruit.

Here’s How to Take Cuttings

STEP 1: Select a healthy plant.

STEP 2: Use a clean sterilised sharp instrument, such as a scalpel to cut off a growing tip from a healthy parent plant.

It should have a long enough stem to allow it to root. At least 5cm of stem should be available.

STEP 3: Put your fresh cutting into clean water to avoid it drying out.

If you’re taking cuttings from different mother plants, then use a separate water vessel for each. This is to avoid any possible cross-contamination if disease is present in a cutting, which you are unaware of.

STEP 4: When all your cuttings are complete, place them into the growing medium, or if you’re using an X‑Stream Aeroponic propagator, place them into the cone collars with around 3cm of the cutting at the bottom.

Some growers like to dip the ends into a ‘rooting gel’. If you wish to do this, it should be done before putting them into your propagator.

STEP 5: Water lightly and cover with a humidity dome.

If you’re using an aeroponic propagator, your plants will be sprayed with a fine mist automatically 24/7. To control humidity close the vents on the humidity dome and open gradually as the roots develop.

STEP 6: For even better results, place a grow light fixture above the dome. Time the lights to start and stop according to the needs of your plant.

NOTE: It might take 7–10 days before your cuttings begin to show roots, so if you don’t see any before then, be patient.

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Nutrient Film Technique Tips

9 Top Nutrient Film Technique Tips To Get The Best From Your Crop

  1. Make sure that the temperature of your nutrient solution is stable. We recommend keeping the temperature at around 17-20oC for optimum nutrient uptake improved levels of dissolved oxygen.
  2. Keeping the nutrient solution pH levels between 5.8 and 6.2 is the ideal range for plants in NFT systems. Check your solution frequently, especially as your plants mature. If they creep above that level, use some pH Down to bring it back down again.
  3. Remember to refresh your nutrient solution. Every 7-10 for a nutrient solution change is ideal. If you’ve got a larger version of the Gro-Tank or Multi-Duct you might be able to go a few days longer, but to keep the solution potent, frequent changes are a must.
  4. A key tip to remember and something that catches out a few growers, especially ones new to NFT and that’s to completely remove plastic wrapping from the rockwool cubes that you might use to support your plants in an NFT system.
  5. Don’t let light damage your plant’s root. Make sure to use a correx cover to keep the light out. 
  6. Keeping your reservoir clean between grows is advised. A wipe around with a gentle detergent and then rinsed thoroughly will avoid any pathogens remaining, meaning that your next crop of plants will get a healthy start.
  7. Avoid the drip, drip, drip of water returning to your tank by making sure that your feeder mats are cut to cover the top tray and hang into the nutrient solution. 
  8. One critical element that mustn’t be ignored is that if you’re using rockwool blocks for NFT growing then you must have plenty of white roots on the outside of the block before planting out into our Gro-Tank or Multi-Duct.
  9. When starting to grow your plants use a half strength nutrient solution.  After about a week or so you can progress to a full dosage. Half strength will be enough for your fledgling plants to thrive, before they become more established and need more food.
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How Does Nutrient Film Technique work?

When people think of hydroponics they often think of NFT, but don’t always know what it is.

In this article we’ll explore what Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is, how it works and why it’s known as one of the simplest growing methods around.

What is Nutrient Film Technique?

Nutrient Film Technique or NFT as it is more commonly known is where a shallow stream of nutrient solution flows, like a film over the plants roots. The nutrient solution is pumped from a vessel, like a reservoir tank over the plants’ roots, where it is recirculated through the NFT system again and again. Making it one of the most efficient hydro systems available.

How does the NFT system work?

The constant flow of nutrient solution flows over the plants’ roots so that it can feed when it needs, rather than when someone is able to water their plants. A tray or reservoir sits below a tray, which is sloped to allow the nutrient solution to easily pass over the roots of a plant and then back into the reservoir. The nutrient solution rises from the reservoir onto the tray above via a pump, which send the nutrient solution from the reservoir up onto the top tray.

PLANTING OUT IN NFT

GROWING MEDIUM

Growing medium isn’t required in an NFT system, though the plants are often held in place with an inert media, like a rockwool cube, like a Grodan block. That’s not to say you can’t use other types of media in an NFT system.

GROWING FROM SEED

A quality propagator provides the best environment for healthy seeds. An X-Stream Heat propagator allows you to control the heat and humidity to achieve a well rooted plant that you can then transplant to a hydro system.

Using Compost

One way of generating high quality plants to be put into an NFT system is to germinate seeds in a seed tray of compost. When they’re big enough you can then transplant them into a plastic pot with drainage holes. Plants are ready to be transplanted when you can remove the pot and the compost remains bound by the white roots of your transplants. 

When to Plant Out

One of the most important things to remember is that you should not transplant into an NFT system until the plant is well rooted. It’s important that there’s a lot of white roots available to take the nutrients that are circulating throughout the NFT system. If white roots aren’t on the outside they’re likely to become saturated with no access to oxygen and ultimately die-back.

Using Rockwool

Before using rockwool, like a Grodan block, it is highly recommended that you soak the rockwool overnight in water at pH 5.5. What this does is reduce alkalinity. You can then plant seeds in the rockwool cube. When doing this gently bury and cover over the seed using a blunt instrument and allow to germinate.

Cuttings Developed in Aeroponic Propagators

Bring the seeds or cuttings on as directed by your propagator instructions.

Young plants can then either be transplanted to an alternative medium, e.g. rockwool, and grown on before transplanting to your system, or grown on in the propagator until the roots reach 8 – 10cm in length and transplanted directly into your NFT system.

Raising Transplants from Cuttings

Follow the instructions for raising from seed but DO NOT use nutrients in the water until your cutting has rooted.

Before Planting Out

Add nutrients according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Check pH.

When To Plant Out

Do not plant into your NFT system until the plant is well rooted. If white roots aren’t on the outside of the growing medium when you place your plant into the NFT system the roots will become saturated with no access to oxygen and will die-back.

MAINTAINING pH

Maintaining pH is a key element of using and maintaining an NFT system. Follow these points below and you’ll be on your way to a great grow.

  • Check pH levels in your tank weekly
  • Decide the pH you want to maintain, between 5.8 – 6.5 is ideal
  • Test the pH of the nutrient solution in your tank using a test kit or pH pen
  • If the pH of the solution is in the correct range 5.8 – 6.5 do nothing
  • If the pH of the solution is above the correct range add phosphoric acid (pH Down)
  • If the pH is below the correct range add potassium hydroxide (pH Up)

Use the pH Down or pH Up very sparingly. Adjust pH to your chosen level over several days.

Safety First

Phosphoric acid is strongly acidic and potassium hydroxide is strongly alkaline.
Always follow the safety instructions on the container.

Top Tip

Remember a consistent temperature is key. Use a submersible heater to assist in achieving this.
So that’s what NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) is, how and when o plnt out and what growing mediums

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Drip feed your knowledge of hydro systems

Did you know dripper systems are one of the most widely used types of hydroponic systems around the world, both for home growers as well as commercial growers too?

This is mainly because the concept is pretty easy – simply set a timer and your chosen nutrient solution drips into your pots. This allows growers to produce much bigger yields with much less hassle.

Drip irrigation sounds complicated right? It really isn’t! Take the Wilma for example… the pots are filled with your chosen growing medium, you set the timer to the desired feeding duration and frequency, and a pump delivers nutrient solution through the drippers and into the pots. It’s as simple as that. This makes them the perfect growing system if you want to feed your plants little and often but still desire increased yields with the familiarity of using pots!

The Flo-Gro is another brilliant yet simple drip system and it is almost impossible to over-water due to the drip ring only releasing solution slowly… with pebbles offering excellent drainage. The speed of the draining through the pebbles re-oxygenates the roots at every feed ensuring long-term root health.

The Flo-Gro is designed for those plants that you intend to keep long term. We’ve had plants in Flo-Gro’s in our polytunnel for many, many years.

When choosing a drip-feed system, keep in mind that the process has been made intentionally simple, so using a drip system with any media is easy – the only thing you have to do is tiny tweaks to the timing to reflect exactly how much nutrients you want your plants to receive.

Here’s a sample feed guide based on the media you’ll be using.

Coco / Soil60/40Clay Pebbles
Start1 x 15 mins per day2 x 15 mins per day2 x 15 mins per day
Veg2 or 3 x 15 mins per day3 x 15 mins per day3 or 4 x 15 mins per day
Flower3 to 5 x 15 mins per day4 or 5 x 15 mins per day4 to 6 x 15 mins per day

And it’s that easy! The Wilma is an ideal first hydroponic growing system that provides fuss-free feeding and ultimately bigger yielding plants.

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Q&A with Holland Hydroponics

We asked Holland Hydroponics in Burnley some top questions to assist any growers thinking about switching from traditional methods to the efficient and effective world of hydroponics. Here is what they had to say;

What are the main considerations for a grower moving from pots and soil to a hydro system?

The main concept growers have to think about when considering switching their growing methods is; do they want better results? If so, then hydro systems are the way forward. 

The first most considerable factor is the use of less media and therefore less mess! Traditional growing methods can result in soil getting everywhere whereas hydro systems create a far slicker experience. The effect of better results also allows the grower to build more confidence in their ability, as you see your plants flourish so does your motivation to push your next crop even further. 

What do you believe are the biggest misconceptions of grower’s who might be thinking of moving to hydro, but are scared to?

The biggest misconception is that you can just leave a hydro system, although you don’t have to watch it as much as you would an ordinary plant in a pot, you do still have to monitor your grow. Which is a good thing, despite the fact you aren’t physically watering your plants, it is still rewarding to see your plant at each stage until the end result.

What advice would you provide to a grower to get them over their fears?

This is dependent on the person, but let’s say they have been searching the internet and have seen things could go wrong with hydro systems, well yes they can, but no more so than with pots and soil.  They should look to minimise the risk by keeping things simple. Choose a system like a Wilma, use clay pebbles and feed constantly. Nice and easy.

What kind of results do growers achieve that move from pots and soil to hydro?

If everything goes well and they encounter no problems, they should achieve a 30-50% higher yield than growing with pots and soil.

What type of system do newer growers move to from pots and soil?

The best system for hydro beginners is the Wilma. It was one of the most versatile systems you can use as it allows soil, coco or clay pebbles to be used in it. So if your wanting to put your hand to hydro this is the system to use – it’s easy and effective.

What is your one top tip for getting the most from a hydro system?

Be hands on and keep it simple!