Capillary mats for seedling trays

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Has anyone used capillary mats for indoor seedling trays or small pots? Or nursery benchs or retail?

I'm thinking off putting watering mats into 11"x21" trays, because I can't seem to stop overwatering from above), and have not found a tidy way to bottom-water.

I'm new to seed starting indoors, I have a few trays in my bedroom, don't wnat to carry trays back and forth to the bathtub for bottom watering, and don't like removing water from trays with a turkey baster.

I assume that I can arrange a tray of inserts or plug cells so that it sits on a mat in a tray, then just add water once or twice a week to the tray without waterlogging the cells, inserts or pots.

How do you "prop up" things that sit on the mat so they have good contact, yet don't squeeze it flat?
Do you just sit the pots on top of the mat, which rests on water in a tray?
Are the grooves in the bottom of a tray sufficient support?

Or do you perch mat and pots up above the water level and wick water up to the mat from a bigger reservoir below?

I've seen 100 foot rolls of highly absorbent, reversible, light-weight non-woven polyester, for rapid wicking, that supposedly resists crushing. At $150 or $209, that's enough for 200 or 300 trays at around 70-75 cents per tray. I would only try that as part of a co-op buy.

I found a $16 24" x 94" 'Agrilan Fibertex' mat with a "permeable cover to reduce evaporation", designed for greenhouse bench watering. At $2 per 11x21 tray, I wonder if it has any benefits other than the much smaller minimum order.

Then there are many very expensive "systems" like Burpee's "Ultimate growing System", $20 per tray, using a $4 mat. I might order one of those replacement mats to see what it's constructed of, if I ever order from Burpee again. I see similar but larger things online, around $10-15 per tray.

I'd appreciate any experiences people would care to share.


This message was edited Feb 3, 2011 11:24 AM

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