Sharing a Failed Experiment
I have been experimenting with hydroponically starting seedlings on sheets for my ecological restoration projects. This I am going to say is a failed experiment thus far. The seedlings start out strong. The rate of sprouting in the hydroponic trays anecdotally seems great. They do not seem to be transitioning well to soil. A squirrel accidentally did me a favor and tore up one of the sheets. I noticed on the underside of the sheet there were many roots coming through. Prior to this I had also noticed the sheets needed more frequent heavy watering than seeds started outside on bare soil. Considering my goal of saving water and making it easier to get a prairie patch started this is not the outcome I'm looking for.
There are variables I might test in the future. Perhaps a material thinner or more open than jute mats would like more roots through. I have been using humidity domes on the trays because it encourages sprouting, perhaps it is discouraging root growth. These are variable I might test later, but I have learned a lot from this failed experiment!
Plus I'll need to figure out what to do about the squirrels digging up the sheets.