Most plants rely on the seed as the primary method of reproduction. The seed is formed inside the female flower after pollination by the male flower. All seeds begin as an egg within the carpel of a female flower. After male pollen is introduced to the female flower by wind or insects, the egg becomes an embryo and forms a hard coating around itself. When seed development finally stops, the seed is released and it is carried by wind, rain, bird or bug to its final resting place. If all conditions are right, it will become a new plant and repeat the growth cycle process. If you plan to grow indoors, you may need to "play bee" and manually pollinate your flowers for them to bear fruit or seed if they are not of the self-pollenating greenhouse variety. With peppers and tomatoes, I simply "tickle" the open flowers with a soft artist brush to spread the pollen from flower to flower.
To provide a friendly environment for your seeds and/or cuttings, I like to use a 10" x 10" or 10" x 20" growing flat. Keep the humidity high by using a 6" clear dome cover. A little ingenuity and some Tupperware and clear plastic wrap will work too. You'll also need to select a starting medium and a growing medium. The starting medium is what you will plant your seeds or cuttings in until they grow large enough to be "transplanted" into the system. You obviously have to transplant because your friendly seed development environment is too small for the mature plant. Usually, you will be starting your seedlings in a growing medium. I have had excellent results with Perfect Starts, rockwool starter cubes and loose coco coir as a starting medium. Vermiculite and
perlite work well too, although I've heard there may be safety issues with vermiculite due to intermingled asbestos fibers.
The Perfect Starts sponges are made from organic compost that is molded into small plugs with a flexible binder maintains there sponge like texture and shape. This allows the hydroponic grower to use an organic medium for seeds and cuttings that can be transplanted directly into any type of system. The sponges protect the roots and keep the material from clogging spray heads. See the chapter on hydroponic mediums for more information. Avoid using soil to start your seeds because it is not sterile and may contain pests or pathogens that can infect your system. Water your starting medium with a 1/2 strength nutrient solution before use and keep it moist but not soaked while seeds or cuttings root. If you are using coco coir, it comes in dehydrated bricks that can be soaked in the 1/2 strength nutrient solution during the re-hydration process. See the chapter on growing mediums for more information on re-hydrating One brick usually makes about two gallons of loose coco coir, so you may not want to use the entire brick at once unless you have a lot of seeds to start.
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