Using Jiffy Plugs

I discovered the convenience of Jiffy pellets after months of working with loose coco-peat. The jiffy pellets, although made from the same material, save me a huge amount of time and effort. Coco-peat blocks are far more widely available in India than the fancier jiffy pellets but the coco-peat blocks are huge and cumbersome and come in 5 kg increments. Using these massive blocks is fairly simple – one just has to wet them in sufficient amounts of water and it fluffs out to be the coco-peat we are familiar gardening with. Yet, on the other hand, that one 5 kg block turns out to be a massive amount of usable peat once wet, and always made me feel like I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

Jiffy pellets come in different types – the ones I’m using here are the Jiffy 7C pellets.

What I will require to get these going:

  1. Jiffy Pellets
  2. Clean water (I use water below 50 ppm) (A number of people use ½ strength nutrient solution but the seed as is, has enough nutrient to sprout   – that’s the way nature created it. If you’re trying to make clones, a ½ strength nutrient along with some root additive would definitely help).
  3. A small tray for your pellets
  4. A toothpick or anything that resembles a toothpick.
  5. Some cling wrap.
  6. Labels/ice cream sticks – so you know which pellet has which seed. (If you’re planting more than one type)

If you take a look at the pellets, you will notice that they come in a light paper covering. This is part of the pellet and not a wrapper – it should be left on. You will notice that a hole in the paper covering on one side of the pellet – this is the top of the pellet i.e. the part where the seed goes in.

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Next place the pellet in a tray and fill the tray with water until the pellet starts floating (about half an inch of water should be good or approximately 25ml per pellet). Let it sit for about 30 minutes. Try not to be in a hurry here – I use my waiting time getting my seeds and labels ready for planting.

This is what the pellet looks like when its ready:

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Next, use the back of your toothpick to bore a teeny tiny hole in the pellet (the pellets already have holes, but sometimes the expansion might block the hole).

Most seed packets will come with instructions stating what depth you should plant the seed at. When in doubt, I just plant them ¼ of an inch into the pellet. Use the back of your toothpick to lightly push the seed into the pellet to the required depth. Be careful not to damage the seed. Lightly cover the hole with loose peat from around the hole. One rule of thumb here – always plant in two’s i.e. put two seeds per pellet. This increases the chances of germination and you can always remove the weaker of the two seedlings should both seeds germinate.

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I planted in these pellets 2 days ago and I already see some little baby habaneros! 🙂

Within a week or so (depending largely on the seeds) you will find that your seeds have germinated. Once you see the first pair of leaves, you can water the pellets using half strength nutrient (I just follow the Nutrient manufacturer’s recipe for seedlings). Water the seedlings by spraying them just to keep them moist. Remember that coco-peat is awesome at absorption, and too much water will definitely result in rotting seeds. I once read a blog that said that the peat should be wet enough such that a light squeeze will release no water.

Have fun with your seeds. Remember that seed quality plays a crucial role. Most seed packets will give you a germination rate (the highest I’ve seen in Pune is 65%).

All in all, it is the time spent gardening that’s the real fun. There are scores of times when I haven’t got the desired results, but that just makes the times that I do get good results so very awesome.

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