One of the quickest and easiest ways to start vegetable seeds is by using a seed starting tray. You can start seeds for most, if not all of your vegetable garden by using a couple seed trays. There are many different styles of seed trays and many different ways vegetable gardeners start seeds, but here is one way I like to start seeds. My method is very simple and results in a high germination rate most of the time.
The Seed Starting Tray
You will need a couple very inexpensive items to get your vegetable seeds started right. How many trays you need really depends on how many seeds you plan on starting. The first item I use is a simple plastic tray to hold the seed starting pots or cells.
I bought two of these trays at my local garden center for about $2 a piece. These trays will be used to hold the seed cells which are biodegradable.
I purchased eight of these all together since the plastic seed trays will hold four of the seed cells each. This will give me a total of 64 seed planting cells. If the peat seed cells do not contain holes in the bottom, make sure to use a knife to poke holes in the bottom of each cell. This will help to keep each seed cells moist for proper germination. We will get to more on that in a minute.
Next, place all the seed cells in the plastic trays. It’s a snug fit, but they all go in the trays nicely.
Fill The Seed Cells With Seed Starting Mix
The next thing to do towards getting your seeds started is to fill each seed cell with a high quality seed starting mix. You can also use potting soil or coir to start the seeds in if you can’t find seed starting mix.
Fill the cells up all the way to the top. If you overfill them, that is just fine because the seed starting mix will settle some as you wet it.
Wet The Seed Starting Mix
Once you have all the cells filled with seed starting mix, take the water hose or a cup, and thoroughly wet the seed starting mix and seed cells with water.
You may need to go back and add seed starting mix to some cells after they settle down a bit. I was out of seed starting mix so I’ll use what I have.
Here’s the reason why I use the black plastic seed trays. It is used to hold water and act as a reservoir for the seed cells. It is best to water seeds from the bottom up. This causes the roots to grow down, resulting in stronger and healthier root systems. This is very important for healthy and productive plants.
I also fill the black plastic tray with about a 1/2-inch of water. Using this reservoir tray eliminates the need for worrying about watering your seeds each day. Just check the water level periodically and refill if needed.
Sowing The Vegetable Seeds
Now for the fun part – sowing the seeds into the seed starting mix. I like to simply take my finer and poke a small hole about 1/4-inch deep into each cell. I found this is the quickest and easiest way to create the perfect hole. Make sure to follow the instructions given on the seed packet for the appropriate planting depth.
Continue poking the holes with your finger until you have a nice hole indentation in each seed cell.
After I have finished creating all my seed holes, I begin sowing seeds in the seed cells. I start by placing at least two seeds in each seed cell and continue placing two seeds in each cell until I have completed the row. I sow at least two seeds in each cell to make sure at least one will germinate and grow. If both seeds end up germinating, I thin the weakest looking seedling and keep the best looking one.
Once I have all the seeds of one particular vegetable sown, I began covering the seeds with the seed starter mix. I use my finger to scoop a little seed start mix from the corner of the cell and smooth it across the seeds. I then gently press down the seeds to make sure the seeds make good contact with the seed starter mix. I make sure to do this lightly. There’s no need to press it to the bottom, just a light poke is all that’s needed.
Label Each Row Of Seeds
After I’m finished with the row of seeds, I then create a label using a plant label, or a plastic knife. I write down the name of the vegetable and the variety.
Then I continue the whole process until I have sown all the seeds I’m starting or run out of cells – whichever comes first.
That’s it! Just make sure to check the water level in the plastic tray and refill once it starts getting low. In a couple weeks (depending on what type of vegetables you are starting) you will begin seeing some seedlings pop up out of the seed starter mix and begin growing into transplants.
How do you start your seeds? What type of trays do you use? Please share with us!