Back in the day nurseries used wooden trays to start their plants. Rather than having plastic six packs with a cell for each seedling, seeds were sown in the tray and allowed to germinate. Soon after the seedlings appeared the plants were separated and replanted into individual pots or transferred to a garden bed.
The idea of using durable reusable trays rather than flimsy disposable plastic pots appealed to me. I wanted to try it out so I decided to make my own set of planting flats.
Step 1: Get Materials
The scrap wood pile is always a good place to start for a project like this. I happened to have a pile of short boards that our weird neighbor gave me.
Step 2: Cutting Up
The first step is to cut the pieces for the sides. Decide what dimensions you want your trays to be and cut up the wood accordingly.
Step 3: Drill Holes
Drill holes wide enough to let a screw pass through easily in the ends of two of the boards for each tray.
Step 4: Assemble the Boxes
Screw the sides together. You can see that I used one screw on the shallower boxes and two on the deeper ones.
Step 5: Cut Slats for the Bottom
Cut up a bunch of thin slats for the bottom of the trays.
Step 6: Finish the Bottoms
Attach the slats to the bottoms of the trays. I used a pneumatic finish nailer. A stapler would have been even better. Leave spaces between the slats wide enough so water can drain out easily.
Step 7: Lots-o-Flats
It doesn't take long to make a whole bunch of these flats. Properly made they'll last years or decades.
Step 8: Use 'em
I like to stick the flats in a plastic tray to catch the water when I'm sprouting seeds. I line the flats with a piece of paper to keep the dirt from washing out.
Here's a bunch of sunflower sprouts.
The deeper flats get more mature plants planted in them like these tomatoes. I made a grid of cardboard to keep the roots from growing into each other.
If you like projects, and I know you do, come on over to Mike and Molly's House where we do Mighty Projects on our Mini Farm (aka our backyard).