The time has finally come for the germination of your cannabis seeds. Once the embryo has emerged from its protective shell, the tiny marijuana seedlings begin to develop their first leaves and a stalk that is still weak. It is in these initial stages that they are especially sensitive: the shoots need special care to prevent damage caused by agents such as rain, air, and fungi.
Just like with newborn animals, newly sprouted plants are much more sensitive to external attacks than adults. So it is necessary to make efforts to protect them from any threats. And, as we are in full germination mode, it is time to devote all our care and attention to those delicate shoots that in a few months will give rise to a slender plant.
The process begins with the cracking of the seed caused by the increase in size of the embryo, which breaks through the separation of the two lobes of the shell freeing a weak primordial stem that, once in the substrate, submerges to form a tiny root that gradually grows stronger, until it is vigorous enough to lift the remains of the seed to the surface of the soil. The two half-shells that surround the seed act as a pair of solar panels, capturing solar energy, and producing chlorophyll to finally give rise to the first two-toothed leaves.
These initial phases are essential to ensure the following stages of development end as expected. Therefore, we must be especially careful and consider all the factors that can harm newly-emerging shoots. The temperature, water, oxygen level, nutrients, and salts are some of the variables that need some serious monitoring. To make things easier for you, we have prepared a rundown of some of the most common external attacks as well as the possible solutions to adopt to protect your crops.
First off, make sure there is proper drainage to prevent water accumulation near the roots. To achieve this, you can add some perlite or vermiculite to the soil mixture and avoid planting the sprouted seeds too deep in the pot, since liquids build up in the deepest areas. It also helps to sterilise the tools or spray the soil with an antifungal treatment (copper, chamomile, and garlic can be used), as well as raking it and leaving it for a few days in the sun before planting if we are to grow directly outdoors.
Protection against inclement weather
At this time of the year, when the weather begins to be kinder, you can take the seedlings outside for a few days after they have germinated so they receive sunlight and rainwater. However, a shower or a strong hailstorm, so commonly occurring during these months as well, can completely ruin them and waste all our earlier work.
Fortunately, there are different methods to protect our seedlings from inclement weather, such as setting up a small greenhouse or covering the pots with plastic or glass containers. A pretty simple solution would be to use plastic cups, jugs or empty water bottles cut in half and fixed to the ground. These artificial shells will not only serve as a shield from water and hail but will also contribute to maintaining optimum levels of humidity and temperature.
Outdoor growers who dare try something a little more complicated can build a kind of small greenhouse to shelter the plants. There are several ways to make this, depending on your preferences, budget, and the materials you have available. One of them consists of erecting a rectangular structure: wooden slats joined with mosquito nets or a metal mesh for the sides or walls, and the top made of a stronger material, such as glass or plastic. This way the shoots will be aired and protected from the spring storms.
Insect and vermin barriers
Apart from inclement weather, the tiny plants can also be attacked by animals such as birds or lizards, as well as other larger bugs that can damage them when they haven't developed fully.
To stop these little animals, we can use either the greenhouse structure described in the previous section or a triangular one lined with metal mesh, in the form of a kind of tent. Recycling a container made from this material, such as a wastepaper basket, would also be a great choice. And, if we wanted to add some extra protection against the rain, we would only have to cover the entire frame with plastic.
Avoid excess water
Even if we grow indoors, small plants could show signs of being overwatered. In the early stages of growth, plant roots are very small and so their absorption capacity is way more limited than when they're adults.
There are two situations, besides those caused by unsuitable soil or a container with poor drainage, that generally lead to water accumulation: the container is either oversized and holds more water than the plant can absorb or it is undersized and, once the plant grows, there's no space for proper drainage. Both issues are solved by choosing the right pot size and transplanting it before the original pot becomes too small.
Long, thin and weak seedlings
One way to make plant stalks stronger is to carefully and gently bend them forwards and backwards. However stressful for the plant this may seem, this movement forces the stalk to tear and rebuild the tissue, gaining vigour. Another way is to make sure the plant receives a high dose of blue light (red and orange can cause stalks to become too long), to keep the temperature around 26 degrees Celsius, and to provide the plant with all the light and air it needs.
As you can see, it doesn't take an expert to achieve healthy and robust germination, although you will certainly have to devote some time to it: small cannabis seedlings need your attention to grow strong and healthy.