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Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

Posted by charlielittle 7 (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 24, 08 at 21:16

Having to rinse potting mixture off my seedlings prior to placing in my system has inspired me to try something new, well new to me and to fit my system methods.

The foam plug is a 1" slice of 1/2" foam pipe insulation from the hardware store @ $1.50 per 6ft section = 72 plugs @ approx. $.02 each. These plugs squeeze nicely into a 1 1/4" diameter hole.

Put about 1/2" of perlite in a foam bowl. Set the foam plug in and filled the center opening also with perlite. Wet the perlite in the bowl with a weak nutrient solution. Observed fair wicking action up into the perlite in the foam plug. Inserted cherry tomato seed. Will see what happens.

Hoping the seed will sprout and the roots will hold the perlite in the plug well enough to stay while plugging into the system. If a little falls out I don't figure it will hurt anything and be much better than having to wash off potting mix. A whole tray would be very easy to prepare and transplant without having to handle the roots so should be minimal transplant shock if any.

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Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

Neat idea. Have you considered just using an oasis cube instead? Much cleaner, and they are cheap. If you don't know what they are, they are a special type of foam that absorbs water and retains oxygen as well. It breaks down enough for roots to push through it easily. If you want to be REAL cheap you can go to the craft store and buy a huge brick of oasis foam for $6 and cut it up into small cubes yourself with a razor (this is what I'm doing for now).

Here is a link to someone who sells Oasis cubes:

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

No I didn't know of them so thanks! Wish they were round. So that foam brick at the craft store, is it the stuff they use to hold plastic flowers?

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

Yes, that is exactly what it is, although I always thought it was for plastic flowers however the Oasis foam I bought at the local "Michaels" craft store could be used for both plastic and live flowers (says so on the packaging). It is great for live flowers since they can take up the moisture that the foam wicks in. The brick I bought is about 12"x7"x10" or so. Could cut that up into lots of starter plugs. I'll be starting in that, then dropping them right into net pots either alone, or will put down some perlite, then the cube, then fill in the sides with perlite as well. It's similar to what I'm doing already with another kind of "organic" plug that doesn't fall apart like a jiffy plug, but I am noticing fuzzy mold growing on the plugs which leads me to believe they are not sterile so the foam is a great option.

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

To cut the plastic foam plugs I'm currently using in my system I got a piece of thin-wall metal tubing and sharpened the edge of one end with a grinder wheel. It goes right into the plastic foam with a little twisting action. Bet it will cut the oasis foam the same. Thanks!

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

I was thinking exactly the same thing; a sharpened hollow tube to push through the cube.
Alternatively you could cut the cubes into squares with the diagonal dimension slightly larger than the diameter of the pipe insulation opening. That way you could 'squeeze' them into the hole and they'd hold nicely AND you won't have any waste from the cube.

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

And they say you can't fit a square plug into a round hole...ROFL! I kill myself sometimes...Great idea grizzman.

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

Let us know how it turns out.

FYI: You don't need to use any nutrient in the water for seed starting. Seedlings get nutrition from the endosperm contained inside the seed itsself.

RE: Foam Plug Seed Starter Experiment

Hey guys....I went to Craigslist and went to the FREE section. I grabbed up any couches that were being given away and managed to get 3 in a week, and those were just the addresses close to me!

So I took the cushions and cut them up into cubes, and ripped off as much foam from around the arm rests, sides, and back, and I ended up with thousands of cubes from just 3 couches.

Obviously this isn't for everyone. You need to live close enough to a large city to find free couches, AND you need to be able to dispose of all the wood, staples, and fabric left over after you strip them down.

After hours of cutting and being very careful to make prefect cubes, I just started ripping off pieces and then cutting them into small pieces, and I stopped caring if they were square, round, or shaped like the face of baby Jesus.

Not counting my labor, I now have thousands of foam starter cubes for free!

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