Using Open Flats (Seed Trays) to Grow Sturdy Seedlings Easily

| 2/24/2017 9:58:00 AM

We do use some plastic plug flats, flower pots and trays of cell packs, but we also like to use our home-made wood plant trays, as we can grow big sturdy plants in them, and reuse the flats year after year.

Make Your own Seed Flats (Plant Starter Trays)

I recommend choosing a standard size for your flats, to make life simpler when fitting all the flats into your warm sunny growing space, as well as when calculating how much to plant. We have a large garden, and we use flats 12" by 24". We make two depths: 3" flats for sowing seeds in, and 4" flats for spotting out the seedlings to grow them on. I don't recommend bigger than 12 x 24 x 4" as the filled flats get very heavy, and none of us needs to lift extra weight, when that can be avoided by a bit of planning.

Lettuce seedlings. Photo by Kathryn Simmons

We gather small scrap boards and make up a batch of flats at a time. We usually end up making a couple of half-size 12 x 12" flats to use up the wood scraps too. I like Eastern Red cedar or pine. Avoid oak. Not only is it heavy, but it splinters painfully, and is not so easy to work with as soft woods. Avoid ply, and all other manufactured boards, as the glues and fillers can be toxic to plants. Likewise avoid pressure-treated wood.

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