Sowing Seeds in Trays

Growing crops from seed is simple and economical, and sowing in trays is a good idea since trays are easy to clean and fit into propagators or on bright windowsills.

Sowing Seeds in Trays is Inexpensive

Sowing Seeds in Trays is Inexpensive

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - Fruits and Vegetables

Step 1: Clean Used Seed Trays

Clean Seed Trays Before Reusing

Clean Seed Trays Before Reusing

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use hot water and detergent or soak in a sterilizing solution and rinse before you begin sowing. Fill a tray with multipurpose or seed compost, and use a second tray to gently firm it to remove air pockets.

Step 2: Scatter Seeds Evenly Over Compost

Carefully Scatter Seeds Over Surface of Seed Tray

Carefully Scatter Seeds Over Surface of Seed Tray

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pour seeds straight from the package or sprinkle them from the palm of your hand. Sow thinly to prevent waste and overcrowding, which results in spindly seedlings that are more prone to diseases.

Step 3: Lightly Cover Seeds With Sieved Compost

Water Tray of Planted Seeds with Fine Spray

Water Tray of Planted Seeds with Fine Spray

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Label the tray with the plant name and date. Water gently with tap water using a fine rose to avoid disturbing the seeds; avoid stored rainwater which can cause damping off disease.

Step 4: Place Tray in Propagator

Propagator Tray with Lid Generates Warmth for Seed

Propagator Tray with Lid Generates Warmth for Seed

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Place the tray in a propagator or cover it with clear plastic to create the warmth and humidity needed for germination. Keep in a light place, such as on a windowsill, but not in strong sun. Remove the cover as soon as seedlings emerge. 

Step 5: Transplant Seedings

Room to Grow

Room to Grow

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

When the seedlings have a few leaves transplant them into seed trays or small pots. To do this, water the seedlings, then hold a seed leaf and loosen the roots with a dibber or pencil to gently tease each one from the compost. 

Step 6: Get Trays Or Pots Ready

Fill Seed Trays with Seed Compost and Firm Down

Fill Seed Trays with Seed Compost and Firm Down

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Have ready seed trays or small pots filled with multipurpose compost, then water and allow to drain. Dibble a hole in each compartment, insert a seedling, and gently firm using the dibber. Water and label. 

Step 7: Harden Off Seedlings

Move Hardened Off Plants to Larger Home

Move Hardened Off Plants to Larger Home

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

After a few weeks, harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to the outdoor environment. Place them outside during the day and bring them in at night, or place them in a cold frame and gradually increase the ventilation.

Next Up

How to Sow Seeds Indoors

Tender plants and half-hardy annuals and perennials are started indoors, since they need artificial warmth or frost-free conditions. The seeds of most hardy plants can be sown indoors too, if you want closer control of germination and early growth.

How to Sow Seed in Small Pots

Sowing in small pots works well for larger seeds and where fewer plants are required.

How to Grow Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Follow this step-by-step guide for growing tips. 

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Sow Cool: Give Your Lawn a Head Start With Dormant Seeding

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