Many amateur gardeners make a mistake of sowing all their seeds outdoors, under full sunlight, directly on the ground. If the seeds are not suitable for such kind of sowing method, there is a danger of such seeds getting washed away, blown away by winds, getting buried under the soil & not germinating at all. Small, sensitive seeds with low germination rates should be sown in seedling trays to avoid all this trouble.
Seedling trays or seed trays are made up of foldable plastic material. There are cells (holes) throughout the trays. These cells should be filled with sowing medium like soil, cocopeat or sand. Depending on the type of plants, 2-3 seeds are sown in each cell. Trays are watered regularly as the seeds germinate. Young seedlings can be kept in these trays safely for 3-4 weeks under semi-shade till they are ready to be transplanted on the field or in bigger containers.
Benefits of seedling trays:
- Seeds can be sown indoors, under safety & watchful eye of a grower.
- Seeds & seedlings are protected from harsh weather conditions.
- Plants can be started any time of the year by sowing seeds in seedling trays.
- Seedling trays are easy to carry around & can be transported from one place to another without harming the plants.
- By the time seedlings are growing in trays, the grower has the luxury of preparing the primary field or containers where the plants are to be transplanted.
- Cuttings: Apart from seeds, even soft stem cuttings can be planted in these trays for induction of new roots; a vegetative way of plant propagation. Learn about what is grafting?
- Seedling trays are reusable. After transplantation of seedlings, a new round of seeds can be sown in same trays & process can be continued.
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Seeds of following plants are best suitable for seedling trays:
Vegetable seeds: Tomato, Brinjal, Chilli, Capsicum, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Onion, Leek.
Kitchen herb seeds: Fennel, Basil, Rosemary, Parsley
Flowering annuals: Marigold, Balsam, Aster, Zinnia, Vinca, etc.