Where does everyone buy their seedling flats/trays/cells? Any good online stores?
Where to buy seed trays?
Here is my favorite store. Best prices I have found and quick shipping. You do have to buy in packs of 10 (trays or sheets of cells) but that means I only buy replacements every other year. Excellent prices on pots and any other supplies you need.
I agree with trc55: GHMS is the best. Look for the 10-tray Hobby Packs. They were out of the "extra deep" inserts when I last went shoipping.
"Growers Solution" is a comparable online store, but I usually go to GHMS.
These are the typical flimsy tear-able "six-pack inserts". It's easy to tear off one six-pack, flip it upside down, and flex the bottom so the root ball pops out intact.:
These are the sturdier "propagation trays". I cut them into sections of 3-4 rows each so I can invert 15-32 cells at a time to pop out root balls, instead of all 50 or 128 cells at once. Just two rows tend to tip over.
Here are a few more links to photos of prop trays and Hobby Packs.
There are some pictures of propagation trays (plug trays) here:
I had tried Novosel years ago and found them to be more expensive than GreenhouseMegastore. Just to be fair, I put together a shopping cart at both Novosel and GHMS today. My order was for 10 ea 1020 flats (no Holes) and 10 sheets of 804 cell packs. At Novosel the cost for merchandise was $26.20 and standard shipping was $14.93 for a total of $41.13. At GHMS my cost for merchandise was $20 and Shipping + Tax was 11.49 for a total of $31.49. Easy decision for me. I will say that GHMS is located in the same state as I am so shipping is probably cheaper because of proximity.
Novosel will sell individual units of trays and inserts and GHMS's smallest unit is 10. So if you need only 1 or two trays Novosel would be cheaper. On the other hand though if you only need one or two trays/inserts, it would be easier and cheaper to buy at your local big box store.
Another big bonus for GHMS is they are the only supplier I've found that sell 2.5 inch sq pots that are 3.5" deep. I use these for almost everything as the final "step up" pot before transplanting. Lots of companies sell 2.5 sq pots, but most are only 2-2.25 inches in depth which in my opinion is no better than the standard cell packs. In addition, GHMS sells the pots in units of 32 for only $2.80 which is slightly less than $0.09 per pot! Most places sell the 2.5"sq x 2.25" depth pots for as much as $0.23 per pot which is more than 2.5 times the cost!!
One final note: if you like using the 2.5" sq pots but don't like them tipping over in your standard 1020 trays and don't want to buy the special form trays that are made for holding sq pots, use 804 cell packs to hold them. The only problem is that the pots don't fit all the way into the bottom of the cell packs (approx. 1/4" higher) so if you bottom water you will have to add that much more to your trays.
For the record, I don't work for or have any association with GHMS, I found them several years ago when I spent a lot of time researching various companies and options for my needs. They have served my needs very well and I believe in passing on the good word when I've gotten such good deals and service from a company.
I also love the 2 1/2" pots. I do my early seed-starting on a city windowsill, and use ParkStarts to save space. The sponge inserts are deeper than cell packs so the potting up was problematic until I found these deeper pots. They are the perfect size for geraniums, petunias, and many perennials until well into April at least, and by then we're back at the country house and I have more room. I had a few saved from plants I once bought at a nursery and was thrilled to find them at GHMS for such a great price last year. I also use them for cluster sowing tiny seeds too small to Deno, then prick them out once they've sprouted into the appropriate size cell packs.
Thnaks for the 2.5 x 2.5 x 3.5 tip!
32 pots / $2.80 8.75 ¢
I find that when tipping is a p[roblem, it helps a little to lay down either window screening or cotton flannel on the tray. By bridging the gaps between ridges, it decreases tipping a LITTLE.
I will also mix a few different-size pots or inserts or plug rows in a 1020 tray or web tray so that it is filled tightly, edge-to-edge. Jamming in some Dixie cups, or 3 rows of prop plugs, help tippy things to stay upright. Or I will add some emoty cups or pots UPSIDE DOWN to keep the tippy things upright.
In the past, I would have a mix of different sized cell packs (806, 804) as well as two to three different pot sizes mixed with random butter tubs and other recycled plastic containers. It was always a pain to fit things in trays without wasting space or have tipping pots. I've now switched almost everything to 804 cell packs and 2.5 sq pots (and using 804 cell packs to hold the pots). I have a few 806 cell packs that still have life in them so I'll continue with them until they break/degrade enough to replace them with the 804.
As I've increased the amount I'm growing each year, it has been easier to standardize the pot/cell pack size rather than use whatever container I could find. It is a little more expensive to do this, but the convenience is worth it. I grow around 2000-2500 seedlings each year so dealing with tipping pots was a pain.
Another bonus, I'm going on 4 years of using my original 2.5" pots (always lose a few each year) so they really are a great deal.
I hyave some very flimsy 3.5" square pots. When two crack or split, I nest them together with the cracks 180 degrees apart and keep using them.
The tearable inserts that I use most are the tearable six-packs, twelve per tray: 72 cells per tray. Sometimes I'll use tiny slips of Gorilla Tape (like duct tape but stronger) to tape two or four six-packs back together for re-use.
I read somewhere that Lee Valley Tools sells some unusually deep inserts - like 3 or even 3.5" deep.
I start around 2-4% as many seedlings as you do!
I also think that Gorilla Tape is great stuff. Much thicker than duct tape, sticks well, and I wouldn't want to be without it. It's a basic black in color. I kind of wish it came in colors like Duck Tape does. I'm not associated with Gorilla Tape -- just a satisfied user.
I like the heavier trays that Parks.com carries. Ofcourse, you can also find trays in Walmart with inserts.
Thanks for the larger pic, can you remove the seedlings out of those very easily? I'll check out your site!
you can find variety of seed trays, plug trays, hydroponic trays & root trainers at http://www.vacuumforming-thermoforming.com/seed-trays.html#102-plug-trays
I have been just re-using the pots that I have saved from many trips to the nursery. I wash them out each winter and then begin my winter-sowing. Of course, some do eventually get cracks in them. I have a rule that when that happens, they immediately go into the trash. (I already have a large store of them!) They are then ready to take on any seedlings of which (some) I have already sown seeds in summer...of all things.
I just kept closely woven plastic flats on top (...in a "Square Foot Garden" - a 4' X 4' raised bed, enclosed by redwood - 1' high) to keep the heat out and the moisture in, while at the same time, "breathing". It worked! No damp-off...just needed to separate the seedlings. Some things grew quicker than others. I read that summer is the ideal time to sow violas and pansies, but I protested (in my mind) that it was too hot. Now I am proven wrong.
Some of the hollyhocks I already placed in their beds in fall, and some are growing on. The same for the foxgloves. I have not yet moved the violas, as they are growing a lot slower. The same with the campanulas.
I think I will sow some more of these same seeds in winter and then compare their growth rate, though (I imagine that) they probably won't grow quickly during the cold winter months. I could be wrong, though, since I have observed many violets growing wildly under the snow...You probably wonder how I can see under the snow...well it melted a bit and then I observed the violets in bloom!
Lol evelyn...was in the garden Saturday and noticed some of my V. JJs are in bloom yet, even with the -15* we had a few weeks ago...... and inbetween rounds of snow. Today is 45* ish.
Violas LOVE 45° weather! It was 60° here again so I had to water some plants. I actually did some planting. Some things that are replacing the "hot bed".
I put in 2 kinds of junipers, some euphorbias and grey santolinas. Kind of boring plants, but hope to make it look OK, but not tasty for the deer. I noticed they ate part of the shore juniper but did not touch the other ones.
There was one golden crocus in bloom already!
>> ... some do eventually get cracks in them. I have a rule that when that happens, they immediately go into the trash.
I tend to save them. Two fragile plastic pots with cracks can be nested together with the cracks 180 degrees apart, and turn into one sturdier pot with kind-of-no-cracks.
And a 6-pack insert with one cracked cell can be repaired by inserting a cell or two to bridge the crack.
But those are the first ones I throw away, or let sit outside in sunlight until they crumble. Or use for giving away seedlings (though I like cut-off soda bottles for that).
You can probably tell that I'm a junk collector.
No, it's just that I have already saved way too many pots. I never have them all in use.
A great, and sticky tape to use to repair or reeinforce just about anything plastic is DUCK TAPE.
Novosel Supply has the 3 1/2 deep cell inserts. I buy them there.
I bought my seed flat at Walmart. Likewise my 6-packs. Why pay for shipping if it isn't necessary
The flats are flimsy by comparison, and sping leaks after a while. The Perma-Nest last for many years.
Pam, I have used Walmart flats for 5 years without leaks. I have also Perma-Nest trays from Parks that came with my flourescent plant stand.
I gave the Walmart ones to my daughter since I don't use flats anymore. I am cheap and hate to line the pockets of the post office. Stamps went up again. Now 49 cents.
You've been lucky. I bottom water, and I've had floods in the house. Never again. I hate throwing good money after bad.
I hear you about postage, though. I have a dilemma about potting mediums, in NYC I can't find anything but Miracle Grow, and that is full of bark and sticks that bring fungus gnats. Cinnamon helps control that, but I'm really, really sick of dealing with it. The seed starting mix has significantly less, so I've decided to use only that until we start going to the country again and I'll have all the other choices. I refuse to make the mess of mixing batches of peat moss etc in the city apartment, and I refuse to mail order bags of mix every couple of weeks. Grrr...
I gave up on Miracle-Gro also. Using Scott's potting soil, which is better with smaller bark. I think every named potting soil now contain bark. I keep a can of Raid House and Garden spray ready for any gnats. I give the soil a short blast of it every morning as a preventive measure.
Last year I had lot of gnats and started spraying late. This year I am ahead of the game. They don't really hurt the seedlings. I see them on top of the soil, but don't want them flying around the house.
After all that rant of mine, I just ordered some mix from Gardener's Supply. I use self watering trays most of the time, and they make a special mix for that which I'm going to try.
If you can find it, consider Pro-Mix or Steuber's Distributing house brand. They sell it in compressed bales, something like 3.8 cubic feet.
I can only compare Steuber's to Miracle-gro, but it was night and day. Like brown powder vs something with as much loft and structure as steel wool.
There's no room here for a big bag of dirt in the city apartment. No outdoor space at all on the 12th floor, and the closets have clothing in them.
How do you get away with all that seed-starting in your apartment...?? No complaints from hubby??
Well, I snuck up on him slowly, lol. I have it pretty much confined to the kitchen window until things start getting some size. Then, the largest low-light things-Digitalis, Alchemilla, and a few Campanula-- last year got tucked into some planters in the living room near house plants. As long as it's not ugly, it's fine. Last year I moved the herb garden out there (the herbs were mostly kaput by then), and added in a few crocus and Tete-aTete Daffs from the local florist.
I can't find those pictures, but here are a couple of the planters in the living room.
>> Convertible into garage space? ;-)
What I want to order online is a dozen more sunny square yards in my back yard!