Hydroponic Spinach: 3 Days After Planting

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! After only 3 days since planting we have our first hydroponic spinach sprout!

This is surprising since when I googled how long it takes spinach to sprout, the results said 5-9 days. In my experience in the past it seemed like spinach took longer to sprout but I wasn’t tracking things very carefully.

I did a couple of things differently that could have contributed. I mentioned in my last post that when I soaked the coco coir, I used about 1/3 nutrient solution in the water I added to re-hydrate the block. I would expect that to have more of an impact when the sprout really starts growing though.

This is also my first time sprouting seeds directly in the self watering planter. In the past I’ve used a seed starting tray like this: https://www.amazon.com/Burpee-Cell-Seed-Starting-Size/dp/B008WYIE2C. It works well, but I’d read that spinach doesn’t like to be transplanted. I think the reason for that is Spinach likes to create a taproot down into the soil very quickly compared to other plants. If you start Spinach in a seed starting tray the taproot will hit the bottom of the cell within a week or so of the seed sprouting. I’m not sure that’s the best for the root system. I also think it would limit growth since that taproot won’t really have anywhere to go and I’m not sure how long it takes for the rest of the root system to fill out enough that it’s reasonably easy to transplant the Spinach. I’m definitely not an expert yet, but I tried transplanting one cell after I found the taproot starting to circle around at the bottom of the seed starter cell and the cococoir just sort of crumbled when I tried to take it out. The Spinach plant seemed to do okay after that but I think it slowed it’s growth for a couple of days.

The other thing I did differently this time around, is I put the seeds under a grow light right away. I currently have my seedlings by a west facing window that only gets a few hours of direct sunlight in the afternoon. In the Northern Hemisphere, I’ve heard a south facing window would be the best. This is the grow light I have: https://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-FLP22-Agrobrite-Designer-Fixture/dp/B002KN2T8G. I honestly think it might be a bit under-powered. I’ve read that the rate of growth is related to the power of the light and I haven’t been super happy with the speed of growth for my seedlings, but I could just be impatient. It’s been almost a month since I’ve been able to easily get fresh vegetables and as someone that really likes their veggies I definitely miss having an abundance. In the future, I’m looking at upgrading the lighting to something like this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TS82HWB or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PLZLKVM. Once I upgrade, I’ll be sure to post a review for all of you for the light I end up getting.

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