Here’s a video on how to build a seed starting rack, I use this exact setup and it works great. It cost me around $120 to build (which includes everything) but the cost has gone up some since then, maybe around $140 now. My success with this has been far above any other method I have used for starting from seed.
Last post was about a comparison using an AeroGarden vs the Burpee Seed Starting Greenhouse Kit for seed starting, now I’ll show the results from the four week test period. There is a significant up front price difference between these two methods so does the AeroGarden really live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
After one week the AeroGarden has had a few sprouts, the one in column three is Basil and the ones in column five are tomatillos. A white moldy looking substance is also growing on all of the growth sponges, a little internet research says this is normal and not harmful.
The Burpee collection has the same number of sprouts, in this case two basil and one tomatillo. I guess this says more about the seeds than the method so far. I did notice the sprouts are a little smaller.
The AeroGarden has not sprouted any more seeds but the ones that had started are looking pretty good.
The Burpee tray has sprouted a lot more seeds. At this point I’m feeding it with some Miracle Grow food through water placed in the tray. The additional spouts are eggplant in column one and wolfberries in column six.
The AeroGarden plants are growing nicely but no other seeds have germinated.
The Burpee tray is growing but not nearly at the pace of the AeroGarden plants.
The AeroGarden plants continue to grow well and look healthy. I ended up moving these to an outdoor garden and they are doing good, transplanting was easy. I expected a little challenge getting them out but it was actually quite easy.
The Burpee plants haven’t shown nearly as much growth. I also transplanted these outside but it was a bit more challenging, the smaller ones were crumbly since there wasn’t much root structure to hold the mix together.
I’d call these results ….. inconclusive. The AeroGarden plants did far better as far as growth is concerned but the germination rate was much lower. The AeroGarden kit has the advantage of pre-measured nutrients and better lighting. I think the age of the seed starting kit may have caused some of the low germination. Is the AeroGarden worth the price? I still haven’t formed an opinion on that.
The Burpee kit was a disappointment to work with (poor quality) but it did have a better germination rate and it is very inexpensive to get started with. There’s probably better nutrient and lighting options that may improve the results but I wouldn’t buy this kit again due to the low quality.
Here’s what I’m going to do to get better results – I’ve purchased a new seed starting kit (refill) for the AeroGarden that has new growth sponges and nutrients. I’ll sanitize the AeroGarden unit and replant with the new kit. For a comparison, I’ll use a Jiffy seed starting kit (similar to the one linked). I’ve used these Jiffy kits in the past with decent results, plus the quality is much better.
Next post I’ll give an update on what’s happening around the property then there will be a series on the chicken coop build. If you have any ideas for seed starting method comparisons I’d like to hear it, future plans include soil blocks and traditional methods. Until then, keep on planting!
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This weeks post is another product comparison – my favorite kind of posts. The purpose of the comparisons is to help find the BEST way to do something, in my case that means the highest success rate with the least amount of work. Other factors may be considered, especially when the outcome is close but for the most part it’s all about the results vs effort.
Seed starting is something I’ve always struggled with, to date I haven’t found that magic system that just seems to work with almost anything. I compensate by over planting everything, maybe this is just normal but when I see youtube videos and other blog posts with nursery type results I just scratch my head. What am I doing wrong? Quantity over quality still wins out, I manage to produce plenty but it seems to take a lot more effort than it should. Will one of these solutions be the magic? Lets find out.
I’ve wanted to try this system for quite some time but haven’t due to cost – until I found this combo deal at the local flea market for $20. The AeroGarden main unit was in very good condition and the seed starting kit was unopened. Here’s what the seed starting kit looks like once opened:
Basically this is a styrofoam tray that sits in the AeroGarden water reservoir and holds the seed starting sponges in place.
The kit also included an instruction pamphlet and four packets of nutrients. This is where I had the first “uh-oh”, the nutrient packets looked partially crystallized. No telling how old this stuff is. Well, no stopping now.
I set the foam tray into the AeroGarden as a test fit, you can see how it sets in and what the sponges look like once removed. The setup is real easy, all that’s left to do is set the sponges in, add water and nutrient packet, and add seeds.
Why this kit? Well, if you can see the price tag in the corner it was on clearance at Tractor Supply for $5.29. They had the 36 cell kit priced higher, this kit contains two of them. What a deal! Here’s the kit opened and the peat pellets distributed:
Notice anything? A little lacking in quality control, there’s a pellet missing in the bottom right corner. The kit also includes a clear lid for each tray. The instructions are printed on the wrapper but they do include an identification sheet that you can fill out to track what is planted where.
And finally, the tray with lid attached:
For this comparison I’ve put together a somewhat random assortment of things.
I wanted to get an idea if either of these excelled one particular type of plant, plus I haven’t started any Wolfberries yet so why not give it a try?
Setting up the AeroGarden was quite easy. As I mentioned before, it was a matter of adding water, nutrient solution, putting the sponges in the holes, and adding seeds. One modification I did make, half of the holes were covered up and not used. I did this to give a little more space between plants plus it made the total count (36) the same as the Burpee tray. Easy!
The Burpee tray was also easy, just add water and let the pellets expand into the cell. They included a little tool (wooden stick) to mix them up a bit. Here’s the results:
Yes, what you see is a mess. Some expanded a lot, some barely at all. What gives? Here’s a look at some of the size difference of the pellets (I had spares from the other tray):
That’s a pretty big difference, especially when you compare the expanded results. Lets see if the instructions say anything about this.
So, they’ve got themselves covered. Well, good thing I had a whole extra tray of pellets, I guess this 72 cell kit (with 71 pellets) is really around a 55 usable pellet+cell kit. Once I got everything balanced out and pretty level it was pretty easy, just add seeds and water. I’ll be placing this under an LED grow light that is on for 16 hours per day.
Although the kit is sitting on a heating pad the heater is not turned on. It’s plenty warm here in central Florida, no need to add heat now.
Ha- just kidding. The results will be the next blog post, the comparison is complete but I didn’t want this post to get too long. Here’s my observations so far:
The AeroGarden kit is old, not sure if the nutrients are still good
The Burpee kit suffers from poor quality control, shouldn’t affect seedling growth
I won’t make you wait a week for the results, look for them in a few days. I’ve got a lot going on here and there just hasn’t been much time to dedicate to the blog. It’s all good stuff, there’s a lot going on with the property but I’ve also got some family things and my day job takes priority. Until next post, keep on planting (seeds)!