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For this key step you’ll need:
Soil growers often choose to start the process with seeds. But the process below is effective regardless of whether you grow in soil or hydro.
2. Submerge your blocks into the solution and leave them to soak for 24 hours. After a while, the alkalinity of the blocks will raise the pH of the solution. Return to the blocks once every few hours to test the solution. Re-apply the pH-down product as needed to maintain a reading of 5.5.
As you can see, Rockwool cubes offer growers plenty of benefits, from improved aeration to pathogen prevention. However, more environmentally concerned growers choose to avoid them because of how they’re made, and what they’re made of.
Finally, the dense sheets enter a large oven. The heat activates the binding solution and enables the wool fibres to hold their shape.
Just like every other form of growing media, Rockwool cubes also carry some unique disadvantages.
4. Now your blocks have the correct pH, are loaded with nutrients, and harbour beneficial bacteria and fungi that will fuse to the roots and help them thrive later on in the growing cycle.
Take 1-2 seeds and insert them carefully into the holes. Use a toothpick or similar object to push them down to the bottom, as you want them to be at the bottom of that hole. Rip or push a piece of the Rockwool over the hole (you don’t have to fill it completely), so that the seed can germinate in a dark moist environment.
3 days. Once the first true leaves emerge, we want to select for the strongest one (the one that grew the tallest), and cut off the tops of all other seeds that are growing next to it. Do not pluck them out, as you may uproot it’s neighbors. Simply cut it off as close to the hole as you can without messing with the stronger one that you plan on keeping alive.
They should look like this:
Important: Do not let the PH of the water go below 5. A Ph this low will damage the fibers of the Rockwool Cube
About 2-3 weeks after germinating, you are ready to transplant these babies into the hydroponic system of your choice. A good rule of thumb to go by is that you want to transplant them once the first roots begin poking out of the Rockwool cube. Don’t wait too long though, as eventually the roots will begin tangling around the cube since it is their only source of water. You want to catch them right as they pop out, so that when you transfer them into your hydro system the roots will grow down into the system, and not just try to feed off the Rockwool cube alone.
Rockwool Cubes have a PH of roughly 7.8. This is pretty alkaline, yet our plants prefer to grow in a slightly more acidic environment (between 5.5 – 6.5). In order to prepare our Rockwell cubes for the seeds, we need to soak them in some PH adjusted water, that way they have everything the seeds need to germinate and sprout; water and a slightly acidic environment.
On top of that, Rockwool is like asbestos, you don’t want to be squeezing it or breathing it or generally touching it any more than you need to. Here is a good article on some of the health concerns of Rockwool. I use it because it is what works best, but be cognizant to the fact that it is a potentially dangerous substance to be making contact with so don’t do anything more than you need to with it.
Now, if you can, place them in a tray with a dome on it. This will help create a little humidity in there which seedlings like. This is not mandatory, but it helps. Whichever you choose, take your cubes and put them in a cool dark place, and leave them alone. The temperature should be roughly 68 degrees F, though my house stays at about 72 and they do fine there. I usually place them above my refrigerator and just leave them for a day or two. My lettuce seedlings sprouted with a quickness the last time I tried, and by the 3rdday they had grown so tall that I had to take the plastic dome off of my container because they were bumping up against the ceiling.