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The AEVA has arrived, and it would be great if we could start growing full-size plants in our new hydroponic garden immediately! Alas, there is an extra step before we can turn the growing process over to our automated AEVA.
Seeds cannot be placed directly in the AEVA, thus we must allow the seeds to germinate prior to moving forward. We will use our seedling kit and seed pods to help get our seeds prepared and started.
In our case, we are working with kale, basil, lettuce, and arugula seeds.
As mentioned, the seeds must germinate before we can transfer them to our AEVA. Wait, what is germination again? And why is this important here? Great questions!
In our case, germination is the sprouting of the seeds after having been dormant for many weeks. The seeds have been collected, stored, packaged, and shipped right to our door, but luckily, they have not yet germinated. Germination requires a particular environment to kickstart the process. Once the conditions are met, POP!, the seed will sprout (hopefully).
Instructions for setting up the seedling kit are included in the AEVA Operations Manual, as well as in the additional documentation provided with the unit. The documentation walks you through assembling the seedling kit, placing the seeds, and creating the ideal environment for growth.
You can watch us walk through the process of starting the seeds here.
Twice daily, we will repeat the process of soaking the plugs for 20 minutes, spraying the dome with warm water, and placing the kit back by its light source.
Just Vertical does provide a "Germination Guarantee" for their seeds; however, it is impossible to ensure that 100% of our seeds will sprout and develop as needed. So many factors go into whether or not a seed will germinate, such as the ambient temperature, moisture levels, and lighting conditions. If any of these is off, there is a chance of failure.
It's also worth noting that each seed type has slightly different requirements, which is difficult to manage when combining in a single system.
For this reason, we used all 18 peat moss plugs from the start, despite there being just 16 growing slots in the AEVA. We just need an 89% success rate to fill our system up, which increases our chances for success!
It is recommended that the plants reach a height of 2" before transplanting into the AEVA. That puts the plant near the top of the germination dome.
However, it is unclear how long this process will take, and whether or not each plant will reach this height at roughly the same time. The documentation indicates that seeds should NOT remain in the kit for more than 6 weeks, so that appears to be the ceiling.
Once our little seeds have sprouted and grown, it will be time to prepare the AEVA to receive them. This will involve setting up the pumps, lights and timers, as well as filling the reservoir.
Let's get growing!