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Grow trays

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

Oh My Goodness. There was a major bust on a marijana plant growing house. Actually two houses.

You should have seen all the equipment they had. We would all be dancing in the street for 1/10th of what they had. And it probably got broke by the DEA.

$4 million dollars worth of marijiana plants. DUH.

$4000 worth of seed propagation containers. Priceless.

Look at Las Vegas Review Journal, Pahrump drug bust. My DH thought I was crazy I noticed all those containers on the evening news.

Helena, MT

Just read your posting here Sharon. Same happened here as well. Funny thing was the growers were growing MJ in a building along a major highway throught town with large windows facing the highway. We would drive by at night and the entire building was lit up so you could see their operation. Although marijana was made legal for medical use here there is still controversy over the growing process.

I am planning on moving my 8' x 12' hoop house into the shed over winter for my indoor/outdoor hot pepper experiment. I joked about growing weed to a neighbor who is helping me with the move. Probably will get a visit from the sherif for that remark.

Ramona, CA(Zone 9b)

Speaking of grow trays, I just bought a shelf system from Lowes and plan to put 2 - 4 foot lights above each shelf. I hope to be starting my tomatoes and other veggies soon. What type of trays would you recommend I use? Any suggestions?

Clover, SC

With tomatoes, it's a good idea to start in individual containers. Otherwise, roots mingle and it's hard to separate plants to set them in the garden. Check out this page for more info:

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

I use PermaNest trays to catch the runoff from my pots. They are a relatively strong rigid plastic, and come in several sizes. I use the 11" x 22" size, which is fairly standard. I chose the white ones.

(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

Helena, MT

Kathy, although I have planted lots of tomato seeds in a single 3.5-inch peat pot, I would have to agree with you about the ease or transplanting when you single pot. I have since gone to about five tomato seeds spaced about an inch apart from each other, but I'm taking your advice in going to a single seed per peat pot next time. I recently planted four varieties of dwarf cherry tomato seeds singly in a styrafoam egg carting. They are close to two sets of true leaves and transplanting. I was going to transplant each one to a peat pot and then to a 2.5 gallon plastic pot. Instead I think I will go directly to the larger pot.

I have read comments like tomatoes like to be transplanted and they like to go to their final home at about 10 to 12 inches in height. Due to a very short growing season I have to transplant tomatoes to the garden from these larger pots in order to get crop in before the fall frosts (mid-august). My transplanted tomatoes may be as much as four or five feet tall before going to the garden in mid-June, unless I place them in covered cages.

Because I use a lot of seed flats, nearly two dozen, I have had to deal with a number of problems when growing seedlings indoors. These inexpensive, flimsy, black seed trays are only good for a couple of years before they crack and begin to leak. Last February I purchased from Territorial Seed Co., four Heavy Duty Trays for $41.50 including shipping. I use these trays to bottom water peat pots which are placed on the gridded removable inserts in the flimsy black trays. That way if there is any leakage it will be minor.

The clear plastic domes for the inexpensive trays did not fit the heavy duty trays I purchased. I did notice on Zen_Man's posting that domes were available for their trays. Nice assortment as well. Will check that out.

Ramona, CA(Zone 9b)

I purchased some of the PermaNest trays and are waiting their arrival.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I freak out trying to untangle delicate roots, so I mostly sprout in tiny cells or prop plugs, and often pot up to Dixie cups or 3" sqaure pots.

I put 12 "tear-apart six-pack inserts", also called "cells" into each 11"x21" tray. You can get them in all sizes, like 72 cells per tray, 48, 36, 32 or 16. VERY flimsy, they need the 11"x21" trays to support them and catch and hold water. I re-use those inserts for several years, sometimes taping 6-packs back together

I've also used "propagation trays" or "plug trays" which are less flimsy than the "inserts". They come in ALL sizes up to 288 or 512 cells per tray, but I have 50s, 98s and 128s.

My favorite: Grenhouse Megastroe hobby packs (10 of one size).


I agree the 11"x21" trays are flimsy. I'm planning to buy some thin plywood or wood panelling to go udner them to keep them from bending and cracking.

You can re-use leaky ones by lining them with plastic film, say from a big plastic bag.
I also line cardboard trays with plastic film to use as much smaller trays.

Helena, MT

I saw a B&W 1930's film about French intensive gardening where the farmer was growing tomato plants from seed. I was amazed at the way they harvested the transplants. They literally ripped out huge handfuls of eight or ten inch plants and laid them out in a woven hand basket. They didn't seem the least bit concerned about the intertwined roots. You might want to check some of these out. They are fun to watch. Just Google 'French Intensive Gardening" and get out your French dictionary.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

A million hits, but I don't see which have videos. The network here at work usually bloc ks video playback, but I may try from home.

>> They literally ripped out huge handfuls of eight or ten inch plants ... didn't seem the least bit concerned about the intertwined roots ...

Gack. I'm discovering that I have several garden phobias relating to planting out or potting on

- tearing seedling roots apart
- killing (thininng) sedlings
- planting dense clumps of seedlings that wull compete with each other

Oh, well, live and learn. I suppose I'll get over some of them if I garden loing enough. Too bad I didn;t have a gardening apprenticeship as a kid. "Ya mean ya can DO that?!?"

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Years ago when I was raising 4 kids, I grew much of the vegetable and preserved with freezing and canning. The idea to me was to save money and have healthier food. I usually grew 4 types of tomatoes, including Italian plum for canning. They were not so readily available during the 80's as they are now. Thirty-six different tomato plants did me well.

I never spent money on fancy equipment. I did purchase potting soil and plant lights. Often I mixed my own soil using 1 pt perlite, 1 pt peat, then fed with Miracle-Gro. I sowed seeds in whatever container I could find such as those that came with salads etc. from delicatessans, and meats. If it held soil to 1-1/2" depth, I used it. I would sow the seeds in a row and transplant to 2" pots when first true leaves appeared. Seeds don't care what they are growing in. Never had a problem seperating the seedlings.

At 4" they were transplanted in the garden. The days listed on seed package for fruit is counted from when the plant is placed in the garden. Not from the time the seed is sown. A larger tomato plant will not yield tomatoes sooner than a smaller plant though planted at the same time. The only plus for a taller plant is the it can be planted deeper. Tomato plant root all along the stems that are under ground. They can also be propagated by cuttings.

I lived in Nebraska during the 80's which was one zone warmer than Wyoming. I no longer grow veggies.

This message was edited Jan 17, 2012 3:09 PM

Helena, MT

"A larger tomato plant will not yield tomatoes sooner than a smaller plant though planted at the same time." blomma, I have struggled with this one for several years now, and I have come back to the conclusion that growing tomatoes in Montana requires transplants as large as four feet tall with blossoms and small tomatoes as well. I have to transplant my tomatoes to the garden in covered cages just to get results by mid-August,which is typically the time of our first fall frosts. Although I plant Stupice and several other cool climate tomatos, I cannot get a decent crop without planting out larger plants and covering them. Maybe I don't get the same yield rate as gardens further south, but at least I can get enough production from 14 cages to meet my requirements.

Helena, MT

Corey, see if this link helps you:

I just tried something different with tomato seeds. I purchased four varieties of dwarf cherry tomato seed in December of last year and planted the seed individually in a styrofoam egg carton on January 1. Yesterday I transplanted the seedlings to individual peat pots. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can transplant them again to the 2.5 gallon plastic pots which will be their final home. I think the above video will convince you Corey as to how tough tomato seedlings are. I think pepper plants do almost as well, being transplanted several times.

One other trick I used this time was to simply place the tomato seed on top of the dampened germination mix and add a thin layer of pulverized spent vermiculture, just enough to cover the seed. I used a fine mister to dampen the surface and repeated this each day. The seeds sprouted in four days, and two weeks later they had two sets of true leaves. I plan on doing the same with some pepper seeds later today. This is a pretty simple way to plant the seeds individually if you don't like separating seedlings, which I agree is a bit of work. I have planted as many as thirty tomato seeds in a single peat pot and it took some time to carefully separate them, but the ones I transplanted to individual peat pots all did well. You could cut out the extra transplant if you planted a single seed in a larger pot, however I have heard that tomato plants do better if transplanted at least twice. Can't tell ya why, but with each transplant, I do a different media which I feel best benefits the plant for its particular needs at that time.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

One problem I found in transplanting is that each time it is done, it takes a bit of time for the plant to become reestablished so there is a bit of a setback. Once roots are disturbed, roots have to become established again. In Montana, why would you want to grow tomatoe varieties that reach 4 ft when earlier types stay shorter and bear earlier, such as Early Girl. Tomatoes are tropical plants and will not set fruit when nights are cold. They are heat-loving

When repotted, It takes a lot of energy for a plant to become established while in bloom and fruit. I always removed any blossoms when transplanting to the garden. Even here is Wy when I first moved here.

Try the Deno method which is placing seeds in a moist kitchen paper towel, then insert in a baggie placed where it is warm such as top of fridge. Once the seed has sprouted, then transfer to planting mix 1" or more apart. That is the way I sow all seeds large enough to handle, including daylily seeds.

Below is a photo of the mini greenhouse I made from gallon milk jugs against frost. Worked great!

Thumbnail by blomma
Helena, MT

blomma, I would agree that there is a lag time between transplants, however the problem here is the 60 day window between frost dates. It isn't as much of a problem getting the larger transplants as it is to get them to bear fruit in that 60 day window. When we moved here I was told that tomato growing was a waste of time, but that only spurred me on. Last year I had to place the covers back on the cages in August to get a decent crop. Our Chinook winds here are too frequent to rely on milk jugs as clouches. I design a covered cage which can withstand 50 mph winds or more. Twice now we have even exceeded 80 mpg winds in the last several years and the cages managed to survive.

I have tried Early Girl and a number of other cool, shot season varieties of tomatoes. The Stupice have worked best for our purposes since we can nearly all of our crop. I have several varieties of cherry tomatoes which I allow to sprawl along a 60 ft soaker hose, using a large 14ml, opaque plastic painters drop cloth to cover this row at night in the fall. This works up until about October at the latest when we get hard freezes.

I have tried the wet paper towel inside a plastic bag method for spouting various types of seed, even Yucca seed which took nearly a year to sprout. I am just partial to peat pots for peppers and tomatoes. The hot peppers which I pot up into the 2.5 gallon plastic pots go to a sunken raised bed which can be covered with old window panes for added warmth. I no longer try to plant hot peppers in the garden. There is just not enough time to get a crop. A single bed holds 32 pots which is about the same as a 60 foot row.

I like your pic blooma of the milk jug frost cover. It looks lie you anchored the jug with a piece of PVC...CLEVER! If I am seeing this correctly, you have cut away a window in one side of the does this prevent the plant inside from frost? I have seen clouches like this advertised, but I don't understand the purpose of this opening.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Holy Cow!!! Hard freeze in October. I thought WY was bad with hard freeze in November, depending on the year. We do get frost in Oct but plants survive with coveres. You are one determined gardener. I admire that. Sixty days of growing isn't very much. I see you have worked around that in spite of Nature.

The photo of the milk jug was taken in Western Nebraska when I lived and gardened there during the 80's. I used to grow 36 plants divided into 3 different types, including paste for canning, Big Boy for eating, and Earliana for early tomatoes in July. Earliana and Bonny Best are heirloom tomatoes that you can't find anymore. They are similar to Early Girl but earlier. I grew them for years. Then tried to find them for my daughter when she began growing veggies but could not. She is in somewhat same predictament as you though she lives 1/2 hr from me. They built a house on 80 acres on virgin prairie at a high altitude. We get bad winds here, and she get it worse for lack of trees, not to mention wild life.

Anyway I have improved on the milkjug cover for her, considering where she lives. Actually it isn't a plastic pipe that is holding the jub in place, it is a 1" x 36" wooden dowel, which is cheaper in price. The opening was to allow airflow and prevent overheating. Sun can produce lots of solar heat even though temp may be low. I now recommend for her a smaller opening and cut on 3 sides so it can be closed, using a cloth pin as a jam. The opening faces east for morning sun. Frost comes straight down. It does not "move" inside objects. Only freezing temp does that. Not only against frost, but it protects young plants as they becomes acclimated in the garden. The plastic acts as a mini greenhouse. For some reason, others use metal cans to cover against frost. Never made sense to me. Imagine 36 of these spread in a garden. I was lucky my neighbor didn't complain. But then, they knew me.

Good luck with cheating nature. I hope you will have lots of tomatoes this coming season.

Helena, MT

blomma., I realized my mistake after enlarging the pic. I use a PVC sleeve over a 7 foot piece of rebar for staking my tomato cages and my first thought was to do the same with the milk carton idea. I preview my best night time findings with my wife each morning a 6 am when she gets up. We discussed this idea at some length and came up with similar conclusions as to the opening. I have been giving thought to extending the rebar/PVC stake about a foot above the top opening of the milk carton, which would allow me to raise the jug during the day and placing the cap back on to hold it on top of the stake. My wrapped tomato cages can be elevated as well to cultivate the plants during initial development. The cages have a large shower hair net cap type cover which is a 55-gallon barrel plastic cover with velcro from U.S. Plastics. This cover is removed during the day to allow heat to escape.

Although Stupice is our primary canning tomato for sauces, juice, relish and salsa, we do grow some other varieties as well. I chose Sophie's Choice for a slicing tomato this coming season, and the wife wanted a paste tomato for some recipes she took form the net. I prefer heirlooms or OP tomatoes for the most part. Normally I do three sixty foot rows of tomatoes, but due the amount of time required to can these, we may have to cut back to two rows. We have a good system, but consecutive 14 hour days can be a bit stressful, especially at our age. Unfortunately harvesting for storage is primarily in August and we have corn, beans, cucumbers, potatoes, squash, onions, and more to deal with. The main garden is 6,000 sq ft, and with raised beds, fruit trees and bushes to add to the list, it is a full time job. Family members enjoy the fruits of our labors, but don't care to help out.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Corey, see if this link helps you:

I can't play most videos from work, but I'll send the link to myself at home ... if my DSL starts working again!

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

There seems to be something wrong with that link.

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