Tips on how to Sow Seeds in Cell Trays

The world of seed beginning could appear impossibly big to these new to the follow. This comes as no shock, as there are such a lot of issues to contemplate! Seed sorts, beginning strategies, soil, and trays are all vital points of rising your crops from seed. 

Seed cells are a standby in that vein, with skilled growers utilizing them and typically computerized seeding machines to hold out a fast begin. Whereas residence growers don’t need to automate or mechanize, they will additionally profit from utilizing seed cells relatively than starter pots. 

That’s what we’re overlaying at this time: seed cells! We’ll determine what they’re and learn how to use them. We’ll counsel a couple of that we love (like our unique Epic 16-cell trays) and level out the professionals and cons and accompanying instruments you should use with yours. 

Seeds Featured In This Article

Caraflex Cabbage

Caraflex Cabbage Seeds


Cream Sausage Bush Tomato Seeds

Cream Sausage Tomato Seeds

Bouquet Dill

Bouquet Dill Seeds

Texas Early Grano Bulb Onion

Texas Early Grano Bulb Onion Seeds

Texas Early Grano Bulb Onion Seeds

Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper

Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper

Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper Seeds

Little Gem Mini-Romaine Lettuce

Little Gem Mini-Romaine Lettuce

Little Gem Mini-Romaine Lettuce Seeds

What Are Seed Cells?

Close-up of several plastic cell trays stacked on top of each other in a garden against a blurred background. Cell trays are rectangular-shaped containers with multiple small, individual cells, each serving as a separate compartment for planting seeds. They are plastic and black.
Smaller than starter pots, seed cells are available in trays with 4 to 128 sections, best for nurseries and greenhouse use.

Not like a starter pot, seed cells are a lot smaller. They’re usually bought as single plastic trays that vary from 4 to 128 sections in complete.

Every cell is roughly an inch huge and deep within the larger-numbered trays, giving knowledgeable growers way more room to start out huge quantities of seedlings as wanted. That is usually how a nursery grows seeds, and it’s usually carried out in greenhouses and indoor beginning areas forward of the rising season. 

In distinction, lower-numbered cell trays like a 4-cell are meant for smaller-batch beginning. These trays mean you can begin many seed sorts with completely different germination occasions and desires. As completely different crops develop at completely different charges, this answer is good for the house gardener because it permits you to guarantee excellent circumstances for every plant sort you’re rising.

Advantages of Utilizing Seed Cells

Top view of a seed starter tray with small sprouts. The starter tray is a black plastic container with recessed cells filled with soil. The small sprouts have a pair of tiny, rounded leaves that are bright green.
Cell trays preserve house, present ease of use, and might be long-lasting, making them advantageous.

The plain profit right here is the conservation of house. You can begin many extra seedlings in a lot much less house than in the event you had been to go for a fundamental plastic or peat starter pot. Whereas there are some nice bigger cell trays, these will nonetheless take up way more house than these smaller cells.

The benefit of utilizing a cell tray is one other benefit. These trays are straightforward to maneuver round and might be rapidly crammed with soil. Most are tailored to machines that can transplant seeds into the cells sooner, too. 

Relying on the fabric and remedy of the cells, they’ll final a very long time. Most trays final a number of years so long as they aren’t overexposed to the weather and direct daylight. Some have even been developed to final for much longer than that. Extra on that shortly!

Contemplate This Earlier than Buying Seed Cells

Close-up of a man's hand pulling young paprika seedlings from a seed starter tray. Paprika seedlings display delicate and slender stems crowned with two small, opposite cotyledon leaves and two true leaves. These leaves are lanceolate, bright green, with a glossy texture.
Massive cell trays can turn out to be root-bound and will require particular instruments for up-potting.

Whereas a single massive tray could also be interesting, it may be troublesome to pluck out one in every of your seedlings from a set of 128 cells once they’ve outgrown their one-inch house. For those who depart them within the cells, they will turn out to be root-bound. Due to this fact, there are particular instruments and strategies for up-potting seedlings if you use these bigger trays. 

One other factor to consider: you have to switch seedlings into bigger pots in the event you plan to attend to plant them out till they’re a lot bigger. When you can pop them out of seed cells and plant them instantly within the backyard, you might decide to proceed to shelter them from harsher parts first.

Lastly, in case you are utilizing plastic trays, they want upkeep, like cleansing and safety from harsh climate in between use. Some trays usually are not recyclable and can find yourself in landfills after use. That makes some much less eco-friendly than others and fewer fascinating to extra eco-conscious gardeners.

When to Begin Seeds In Cells

Close-up of a gardener's hand sowing seeds into a starter tray. The seeds are tiny, flat, round in shape, and yellow in color. The starting tray is plastic, black, with separate recessed cells filled with moist soil.
Seed cells are perfect for house conservation, ease of use, and mechanical sowing.

If you’re working with a considerable amount of seeds, you wish to preserve house, and also you’d like to supply your self some ease of use, seed cells are an important possibility. That is the one viable choice to sow your seeds mechanically. 

If you’re going to plant out all of your seedlings on the identical time, cells are an important selection. Which means you may take your tray out to the sector or backyard and transplant all of them concurrently.

You should utilize these trays for succession sowing, however you’ll need to puzzle out the best timing. That is the place a smaller variety of cells in a tray could also be useful; you should use a 16-cell tray to imitate the circumstances in a traditional 128-cell tray and begin a batch of 16 crops as soon as per week, enabling excellent succession timing relatively than attempting to recollect if you began every a part of the tray.

The kind of seeds you’re rising is vital, too. For those who’re utilizing reusable cell trays, don’t plant seeds vulnerable to transplant shock or vulnerable to break by root disturbance. Save these for biodegradable pots and cells, or direct-sow these seeds into the backyard when the circumstances are proper. 

3 Varieties of Seed Cells and Tips on how to Use Them

Listed below are a couple of forms of cell trays and a few directions associated to their use. All of those are available at many backyard retailers. We’ve some in our store as nicely!

Biodegradable Cells

Recycled Paper Pots

Recycled Paper Pots
  • Eco-Pleasant Seedling Progress
  • 100% Recycled, Meals-Grade Paperboard
  • Sustainable Manufacturing Practices
  • Biodegradable in Backyard or Compost Bin
  • Inexperienced Various to Plastic or Peat Pots

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Particular person cells fabricated from biodegradable cardboard or peat are a good way to scale back some potential pitfalls of normal cell trays. Plant the seeds in them, and when the seedlings are prepared to maneuver to the backyard, transplant the entire pot instantly into the soil when the seedlings are mature sufficient. You’ll need an accompanying carrying tray to make use of these for watering and transferring round.

With these, you scale back shock within the transplanting course of. You additionally keep away from any disturbance concerned in transferring the trays round and keep away from damaging doubtlessly delicate roots. There’s no plastic to fiddle with and no upkeep. That being mentioned, you’ll have to replenish these earlier than your subsequent rising season. They’re single-use.

Peat pots additionally get a foul rap at occasions, as peat shouldn’t be a renewable useful resource and solely exists in a couple of elements of the world. It’s such an ecologically vital plant. These involved about impacts ought to go for merchandise from sustainably-managed peat bogs. 

Soil Blocks

Close-up of small-sized soil blocks for sowing seeds. Soil blocks are crafted from a mixture of soil and a binding agent, forming compressed cubes or blocks that serve as individual planting units. These blocks have a crumbly texture and a distinct, earthy color.
Go for soil blocks for an eco-friendly, no-transplant-shock answer.

The one-inch to two-inch variations of those cells are an important possibility for gardeners who wish to skip the trays altogether. They’ve obtained the identical advantages as your biodegradable pots however with out the necessity to replenish. All you want is a soil blocker and a great blocking soil combine, and also you’re good to go. No transplant shock!

You’ll, nevertheless, want a service tray and a typically costly soil blocker. You additionally want to wash and dry the blocker between makes use of, however that’s a easy course of. Blockers additionally final a very long time, so buying one is an honest funding. There’s a slight studying curve, however after a couple of occasions of working with blocks, it’s straightforward to work out any points. 

To make use of one in every of these, make your seed-blocking combine, guaranteeing it’s stable sufficient to carry form and leach some moisture if you squeeze a clump in your hand. Then, use your blocker to form and press the blocks right into a tray. Most blockers have a dibbler that leaves an impression the place you may plant the seeds afterward. Sprinkle extra combine or some vermiculite over the seeds, and voilà.

Soil blocks dry out sooner than the soil that may in any other case be in pots. It may possibly take time to determine the most effective watering schedule that can present sufficient moisture however not a lot that it degrades your blocks. You may additionally need to up-plant your begins, making different pots and even bigger seed blockers vital. 

Plastic Cell Flats

Epic 16-Cell Seed Beginning Trays

Epic 16-Cell Seed Starting Trays
  • Sturdy and Lengthy-Lasting Development
  • Eco-Pleasant Manufacturing
  • Engineered for Optimum Plant Progress
  • Handy and Versatile Design
  • Versatile Seed-Beginning Resolution

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The best profit to plastic flats is they’ll last more than biodegradable pots, and they’re able to go yearly, in contrast to soil blocks. In addition they are available in trays of 30, 50, 72, 128, and 200 cells, supplying you with a lot of room and choices on your preliminary begin. Any set of those is designed to suit right into a 1020 tray, and their measurement varies primarily based on the variety of cells. 

Some cell trays are higher than others, although. Many standard ones are fabricated from versatile plastics that work for a few years after which begin to degrade. We want way more sturdy fashions, like our Epic 16-cell tray

This tray has 16 cells and is injection molded BPA-free, recycled plastic. They’re extremely sturdy and don’t require greater than a wash and guarded storage between use. You’ll be able to anticipate this tray to final a lifetime. Inside every cell are 4 inside ribs to forestall root spiraling. 

The bottoms are open, offering air pruning on the decrease finish and ease of extraction throughout transplant time. Eight of those trays match inside a 1020 tray or our Common Backside Tray, making eradicating the cells a lot simpler than a full tray of 128 cells whereas nonetheless offering the identical variety of cells to plant into.

Probably the most useful facet of this tray is you can take away 16 seedlings at a time for transplanting, care, and even rotation for the most effective foliage and root growth. There’s no have to take away your complete tray. 

With the cell methodology, all you need to do is fill along with your beginning combine and plant your seeds mechanically or manually. Place them in your beginning space and monitor for seedling progress. Then, pop them out to transplant if you’re prepared. 

Accompanying Seed Cell Provides

Close-up of a small seed starting tray with a humidity dome on a heat mat and under artificial light. The starting tray is a plastic, black, square-shaped container with recessed cells for planting seeds.
Think about using develop lights, humidity domes, and heating mats for optimum germination.

A backside tray isn’t utterly vital when utilizing plastic or biodegradable trays, but it surely helps with watering and transportation. You positively want a backside tray for soil blocks, although, as they want a spot to sit down when your seeds are creating their first foothold. 

Different fundamental seed-starting provides like develop lights, humidity domes, and heating mats are nice for any of the above choices for seed beginning. These present seeds with the sunshine, humidity, and heat they should germinate and develop. 

One essential device to have for plastic cell trays is a widger. You’ll want it to take away the begins from the trays on the time of transplant. Simply slip it into the nook of a cell, lever the soil mass out of the tray, and into the brand new pot or backyard floor. For those who don’t wish to use a widger, contemplate our Epic trays that mean you can use your finger to pop crops out.

Finest Seeds For Seed Cells

Close-up of lettuce seedlings in seedling trays in a greenhouse. Lettuce seedlings exhibit a charming and distinctive appearance characterized by tender, elongated stems and delicate, vibrant green leaves. The leaves are oval, with slightly serrated edges.
Select your cell measurement primarily based on the kind of seeds you’re prone to plant.

Smaller seeds and those who aren’t delicate to shock throughout transplant are nice choices for seed cells. Wildflowers and perennials are additionally excellent for cells. When working with bigger seeds, go for bigger cells, go together with direct sowing, or begin in bigger starter pots.

  • Lettuce: The minuscule seeds of lettuces, like Little Gem Mini-Romaine Lettuce, profit from cell beginning. Plant in small cells and transplant out once they develop true leaves.
  • Onions: Oversow your onions in seed cells and separate them upon planting or up-potting. This can be a nice strategy to get much more out of your harvest, however select the best onion on your space. In hotter areas, attempt the short-day Texas Early Grano Bulb Onion.
  • Herbs: Very similar to lettuce, herbs are inclined to have tiny seeds that recognize a smaller beginning house. Planting dill instantly within the backyard (even when it’s a bit chilly) will yield tons of aromatic frond-like leaves in summer time. I want to go together with Bouquet Dill due to its big flowers. Dill can also be an important attractant for swallowtail butterflies.  
  • Tomatoes: Many gardeners like to start out tomatoes in bigger cells or pots and allow them to get good and massive earlier than planting them out. A 16-cell tray begin is a good way to get a number of them going so you may have tons of tomatoes at harvest. You’ll possible have to up-pot in the event you’re beginning seeds early to get a jumpstart on the season. Go for new and attention-grabbing determinate varieties like Cream Sausage Bush Tomato. 
  • Peppers: Capsicum species are simply as beloved as tomatoes and require related care within the beginning course of. Select bigger cells or up-pot to permit for plenty of plant growth earlier than transplanting them outdoor. There are tons of pepper selections, too, with good mid-range choices, like Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper. 
  • Brassicas: Small seeds make these nice for sowing in smaller cells. Attempt an early sow cabbage selection, like Caraflex Cabbage, for small cabbages with a conical form and a fast maturation price.  

Ultimate Ideas

Seed cells usually are not a brand new know-how, however there are new and thrilling developments on this class of seed-starting that make your life simpler. No matter methodology you select, there are issues to contemplate. All have their comfort and modularity components

Take into consideration the seeds you wish to plant, and use that to find out your plan for this upcoming rising season.

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