old seed starting kit planters

Even if you’ve been working the soil for decades, you can benefit from a good seed starter kit.(1) A highly experienced gardener may want to try a new vegetable in the garden. Perhaps you want to take on a more challenging flower and want to ensure as many of your expensive seeds germinate as possible.

Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise.
~Michael P. Garafalo

A good seed starter kit can make the difference between a successful harvest and months worth of wasted time and effort.

Nurturing your starter plants gets them well on the way to a healthy growing season. The question is which are the best kits and where can you find them.

What Are Seed Starter Kits?

seed starting kit

A seed starter kit contains most of the supplies you’ll need to turn out young seedlings for later transplanting. Some of them won’t come with growing medium, which you’ll have to supply yourself. Others may include peat pods or coco fiber growing pods. In some cases, you’ll prefer the ones that come with growing medium. But depending on what you’re planning to grow, they may just be an extra expense you don’t need.

What you can expect to find in your seed starter kit are growing trays. You’ll get divided slots or separate small pots for growing each seedling. You should also expect a drain tray to catch any moisture leaking from the starter trays. The best seed starter kits also come with clear plastic domes. These help retain moisture and warmth, which gives your seeds the best chance of germinating.

How to Choose the Best Seed Starter Kit

Seed Starter Kit with Cover

Consider how you plan to use your seed starter trays before purchasing. Whenever gardening, planning ahead is always a good idea. You need to consider the space available for growing, your climate, and the growing seasons in your region.

Also, consider your available resources. Does your growing space have easy access to an outdoor hose bibb? Does it receive enough sunlight for the plants you have planned? In gardening, much like comedy, timing is everything. Will your soil be workable by the time your seedlings are ready to transplant? Or are you planning on container growing?

Features to look for

When shopping for seed starter kits, make sure that look for a few critical features. First of all, make sure the pods are big enough for the seedlings you’re planning to add to your garden. Some seedling trays have tiny cells, which means larger plants may become quickly crowded. That also means you may have to transplant them outside long before the ambient temperature cooperates.

In particular, make sure the domes on any seed starter kits are tall enough to accommodate your plants. Some seedlings remain rather short even after developing their first true leaves. Faster growing plants, such as cucumbers, zucchini, and squash grow quite tall, quite quickly. If you’re starting them indoors in seed starter trays, you may need enough room indoors to accommodate them without their domes before you can plant them.

How We Determined Which Were Best

After many decades of gardening, we’ve had a chance to try out a few seed starter kits. In fact, we recently lucked out with an end-of-season sale and have already started putting them to good use.

Along with personal experience, we’ve also taken a fresh look at the market to see what gardening supply companies are offering this year. Products from the established companies are generally time-tested. However, the homesteading and DIY revival sweeping the US has resulted in a number of smaller companies taking new approaches to gardening needs.

We’ve examined the specifications and construction materials, while also taking user response onboard to collate a list of seed starter trays we can recommend with the highest confidence.

Several Outstanding Seed Starter Kits

While we have our favorites, we have presented the best seed starter kits in no particular order. That’s because some of these models are better suited for one specific purpose. So, while one seed starter kit may be the best for herbs, another model is better suited for flowers or vegetables.

Extra Strength Seed Starter Kit, 2 Pack Combo, 2 of Each - 1020 Tray,...
  • Ultra-Durable, High-Quality, 50 Cell Starter Tray Kit w/ Flat and Dome. Made to last many seasons
  • Domes and Trays are NOT flimsy or brittle. Won't crack or break while handling unlike competitors
  • Heavy Duty Humidity Dome 6" height (5.5" interior space). Built in vents for controlled airflow

Bootstrap Farmer sells a number of seed starter trays online and has developed a sterling reputation for high quality in just a few years. This seed starter kit features two trays with 72 cells each. This gives you 144 cells for your seedlings. While they haven’t included any growing medium in the kit, you can use coco fiber, perlite, peat pots, or your own mix as needed.

Most outstanding is the durability of the Bootstrap Farmer brand. These extra-strong trays are just the thing for the rough and tumble gardener. If you need seed trays sturdier than the standard polystyrene trays that collapse in on themselves after watering, this may be the best kit for you. They’re also durable enough to use safely with a heat mat.

One of the best features of this seed starter kit is the extra high dome. It provides 4.5 inches of clearance for your seedlings, which is roomier than most. It also has built-in air vents to help prevent fungal disease and damping off. Bootstrap Farmer makes their seed starter trays from extra-strength recycled plastic. They’re also BPA-free and food-safe.

Size and specifications

  • Number of trays: 2
  • Tray size: 21.25 by 11.25 inches
  • Cells per tray: 72
  • Cells size: 1.5 inch square by 2.25 inches deep
  • Dome height: 5 inches
  • Growing medium included: no
  • Tools included: no
  • Seeds included: no

Reviews and pricing

One farm blog reviewed the Bookstrap Farmer and noted that he tested their durability with his 14-pound cat. Needless to say, he gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars. Amazon buyers were also impressed, giving this seed starter kit 4.7 out of 5 stars. One commercial grower noted that they threw out all their other starter trays after trying these. While many customers acknowledged that these trays are more costly than most, they also noted that they had used them for several years. Currently only available on the Bootstrap Farmer website and Amazon.

KORAM 10-Pack Seed Starter Trays 60 Large Cells Seedling Tray Plant...
  • GREAT FOR SAPLINGS & STARTERS - With a 1.9" diameter, KORAM Seedling Trays are perfectly sized for starting flowers,...
  • EFFICIENT TRANSFER OF HEAT - With humidity lid and base allow heat to easily penetrate and keep soil at consistent...
  • FLEXIBLE PLASTIC - allows for easy plant removal and convenient 6 cell packs make transplanting a breeze; Thickened...

This easy-to-use seed starter kit from Koram includes 10 trays, with 12 cells in each. Each of the 10 trays has a white draining tray, a black cell tray, and a transparent lid for preserving moisture. You’ll also receive plant labels to help you keep track of your seedlings. Included in the kit are a seedling dibber and a seedling widger to help you plant and transplant your seedlings.

These are smaller than the Bootstrap Farmer brand, as well as the standard Jiffy trays you find in many home improvement stores. However, the nice thing is that you don’t have to find room for one big tray. And you’ll still be able to start 120 seedlings with this seed starter kit. These are great trays if you’re only starting a few plants at a time throughout the season. And you’re not committed to the same light requirements for every plant in your tray. These trays are not safe to use with heat mats, however.

Size and specifications

  • Number of trays: 10
  • Tray size: 7 by 5.3 inches
  • Cells per tray: 12
  • Cells size: 1.5 inch square by 2 inches deep
  • Dome height: 2 inches
  • Growing medium included: no
  • Tools included: yes
  • Seeds included: no

Reviews and pricing

Amazon buyers rated this kit 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many buyers found them more durable than expected and were able to use them multiple times. One benefit noted was their small size. The numerous small trays allowed them to accommodate different light and temperature requirements, something they couldn’t do with larger trays. One downside mentioned was the size of the dome. It’s only 2 inches tall, which may not be tall enough for many seedlings. You may also have to cut vent holes in them yourself. You’ll find the Koram seed starter kit at a number of online retailers.

GrowEase Self Watering Seed Starter Kit, 24 Cells
  • SELF WATERING - Seed starting success starts here! Self-watering; A generous water reservoir holds 10 cups (80oz)...
  • ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY and HEAVY DUTY - Not only made from strong heavy-duty,100% recycled plastic the GrowEase Seed...
  • COMPLETE KIT - Germination dome, 24 cell tray, capillary mat and water reservoir included. Just add seed starting mix!...

If you’re not confident about your gardening skills as yet, the GrowEase self-watering kit may be your best choice. Made of durable, 100-percent recycled plastic, this kit features a water reservoir holding tray, a 24-cell seedling tray, and a support tray that holds your seedlings above the reservoir. You’ll also get a capillary mat that wicks the water to the planting cells and a domed humidity cover. Avoid over- and under-watering with the 10 cup reservoir that allows your seedlings to sip as needed.

While this seed starter kit can seem expensive, its self-watering system is foolproof, saving you money and time. One keen benefit we’ve never seen before in seed starter trays is that the GrowEase model is dishwasher safe. This comes in handy when you need to sterilize them between plantings.

Size and specifications

  • Number of trays: 1
  • Tray size: 14.75 by 9.25 inches
  • Cells per tray: 24
  • Cells size: 2 inches square by 2.25 inches deep
  • Dome height: 2.75 inches
  • Growing medium included: no
  • Tools included: no
  • Seeds included: no

Reviews and pricing

Amazon buyers were impressed with the GrowEase seed starter kit's ease of use. Many appreciated the healthy seedlings that a self-watering system can deliver. Several customers commented positively on the sturdiness of the trays while noting that the domes, however, required special care. Amazon buyers rated the GrowEase 4.5 out of 5 stars. Gardeners.com shoppers gave the GrowEase trays 4.4 out of 5, with many customers saying they’ve washed and reused them for several years in a row.

You’ll find this seed starter kit online from several gardening supply retailers.

Sale
Jiffy J450 50 Cell Professional Greenhouse
  • Indoor Gardening
  • Greenhouse Gardening

Jiffy is the ubiquitous name in seed starter trays. While they have stood the test of time, they’re not always the most durable for constant reuse. However, in this case, we’re putting our preconceived notions aside. If you’ve ever started larger vegetable plants, such as tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, or zucchini, you may have noticed how quickly they get squeezed out of standard seed trays. In fact, we’ve often had to transplant them to 4-inch pots before they developed enough to transplant to their final location. And every unnecessary transplant can mean shock.

That’s not a problem with this Jiffy tray. It features extra large peat pots – 50mm diameter instead of the standard 35mm. This allows your larger vegetable seedlings to develop healthy roots before putting them outside in the garden. While most seed starter cells are about 1.5 inches, these give nearly 2 inches of space in their proprietary peat pellets.

Size and specifications

  • Number of trays: 1
  • Tray size: 21.2 by 11 inches
  • Cells per tray: 36
  • Cells size: 2 inches square by 2.9 inches deep
  • Dome height: 2.75 inches
  • Growing medium included: yes
  • Tools included: no
  • Seeds included: no

Reviews and pricing

Customer reviews noted their appreciation of the extra-large pods for any seedlings with longer tap roots. The extra room is particularly helpful for gardeners who need flexible timing when transplanting their vegetables. Many noted the convenience of the system, particularly the moisture retention when using the dome lid. Amazon buyers rated this extra-large pod Jiffy tray 4.3 out of 5 stars. Home Depot shoppers rated it 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Sale
Herb Garden Starter Kit (Indoor) Natural, Organic Planting | Pots,...
  • 🌿 INDOOR/OUTDOOR HERB GARDEN KIT - Great gift for kids and new gardeners, this Herb Garden Starter Kit teaches...
  • 🌿 NATURALLY ORGANIC AND DELICIOUS - Our indoor herb garden kit comes with organic seed packets to grow fresh,...
  • 🌿 HERB GARDEN PLANTER KIT - This growing kit comes with everything you need to be an herb-growing green thumb,...

This all in one seed starter kit from Sower's Source has everything a new gardener needs to develop their green thumb. You’ll get seeds, growing medium, pots, and even plant markers. If you’ve never gardened before, the Sower’s Source herb garden starter kit is just the thing to help you launch your new hobby. Herbs are some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow. This kit is suitable for indoors and out, for both adults and children (with a little help).

Best of all, everything included is organic. You’ll get a set of non-GMO herb seed, including mild favorites like parsley and fast-growers like basil. The soil mix and starter pots are also biodegradable, so you can plant them right into a larger pot or into your garden soil when they need more room.

Size and specifications

  • Number of trays: n/a
  • Number of starter pots: 5
  • Pot size: approximately 3 inches diameter by 3.5 inches deep
  • Growing medium included: yes / 5 soil pellets
  • Seeds included: yes: basil, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro

Reviews and pricing

Customers loved this seed starter kit. Many claimed that they killed houseplants regularly until introduced to this easy-to-use kit. Buyers with very little space were delighted that they could use it indoors. Several customers said their children had a blast planting and nurturing their new herb gardens. Amazon buyers rated this herb garden kit 4.8 out of 5 stars, and you can find it online.

Get Your Garden off to a Great Start

Whether your gardening is a hobby, a commercial venture, or even a spiritual calling, good tools make light work. In the case of a seed starter kit, they can increase your vegetable harvest and extend your growing season.

Starter trays allow you to plant seedlings indoors long before its safe to plant them outside.

For flower gardens, adequate seed starter trays mean a better variety of flowering plants. If you’ve ever purchased flats of annuals at your local home improvement store, you can imagine how much money you’ll save planting your own. A seed starter kit can also help you establish your perennial flowers well in advance to ensure summer blooming for these slower-growing beauties.

While most seed starter kits all look and function alike, we hope our list of particularly notable models helps you ready yourself for the next growing season with superb results.

Reference

1. Fine Gardening, All About Starting Seeds, retrieved from https://www.finegardening.com/article/all-about-starting-seeds

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