It is probably a little late, maybe a few days, but today the plants went into the nursery channels (built here).
You can see the little guys are growing nicely, and they’re pushing roots thru the bottom of the rockwool.
The rockwool is pretty porous (you never squeeze it, as it’ll compact down into a small ball then), and has a fair amount of air-space in the cube. This allows the actual material to suck up water, but the roots still have alot of air pockets in there to get oxygen. If you simply submerged the entire thing in water, the plant would actually drown (unless you had highly oxygenated water, which I don’t plan to do) . Swim little guys, no drowning here.
To move these guys through the process, we break apart the rockwool cubes. They’re 1×1″ cubes with a slight taper to the bottom, which makes inserting them easy-going into our 2″ net pots.
If there are any long exposed roots, they can be fished thru the net pot openings. But, they plants are smart and will do that on their own.
It is hard to see in this picture, but the bottom 1/8″ or so of the netpot (and corresponding rockwool) is just beneath the water level. This encourages the plant to grow roots down. We need about 1.5″ of downward root growth before planting in the finishing channel. This is because the finishing channel is a true nutrient film technique system, which means the channel only has a film (1-3mm) of nutrients flowing under the plant, so the plant’s roots have to reach down there to suck up the good stuff.
Here are two nursery channels. Note the close spacing. The plants will quickly outgrow and crowd themselves if left here too long. Hopefully they will be ready to move out into their larger accomodations (finishing channel) within a week or two.
The plants (41 basil and 3 lettuce) are under 16hrs of light per day and nursing a light nutrient mix. In a few days, they’ll get another hour of light and a stiffer cocktail.