Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Quick and Easy Handmade Seed Starting Trays

If you plant dozens, or perhaps even hundreds of seeds every year but don't have enough of those mini plastic pots to grow your seeds in, then making your own seed starting trays is an economical and efficient way to raise all of your little seedlings.

The trays are fast and quite simple to make:
1) Find some old pallets or scrap wood (we use pallets since we have a huge pile of them at the end of our road). The dimensions are roughly 1/2" thick x 2.5" width. The length of the sides are 17" and 12.75".
This will hold 48, 2" square soil blocks.
2) Assemble wood like this - but it really doesn't matter which direction you put the slats on the bottom just be sure the long side piece (17" gets screwed into the shorter 12.75" piece as shown in green below). The nail gun is not necessary either, but just makes it faster. You could just as easily use a hammer and nails. That's all there is to it.

You should end up with something that looks like this. Toss a single layer of newspaper down and then you're ready to make some blocks.

The soil mix is pretty simple. Feel free to experiment, just remember to not put too much vermiculite, perlite or coir in, or your blocks will fall apart because they will be too porous.  If you don't know what coconut coir is - it's a more sustainable approach to peat moss. It's made from ground up and shredded coconuts and is renewable. We use Beat's Peat ( This stuff really swells after you add water and becomes this fluffy gold!

Last spring we tried making our own soil block maker but discovered the round shape wasn't ideal because the blocks tended to dry out from the empty space between the circles.  This year we decided to go ahead and purchase a soil block maker with a square shape from Green Planet Naturals.  The soil blocker above makes 4 mini soil blocks at a time.  You can whip out a couple hundred blocks in 10 minutes - so there is no need to go much larger.

Pushing down on the spring-loaded handle releases the soil blocks.

One box holds 48 mini blocks with a dimple in the center for placing the seed. 

I place a spritz of vermiculite in each hole then place the seed and add a spritz more of vermiculite then press down on the seed with light pressure.

To keep accurate records, I write numbers on the perimeter of the box using a grease pencil.  The number corresponds with whatever is planted in that row and is recorded on a separate piece of paper. 

The record sheet.


Mollie @ Jennings Brae Bank Farm March 5, 2014 at 8:31 AM  

Wow, I'm so jealous of your organization! Also, I've been curious about the soil blockers, so it's good to see one in action.

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A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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