You'll recall that I recently wrote about seed-starting kits. Today, as I was starting more seeds, I used one of my "All-Roots" seed-starting systems that I got at Gardens Alive (www.gardensalive.com) a couple of years ago. I wanted to show you how they work, since they are pretty slick. And no, I don't own stock in the company; I just like sharing good ideas and products with you.
The All-Roots system is comprised of a plastic tray that holds a foam grow-plug holder, grow plugs and a clear plastic dome. They come in sizes that hold as few as 10 plugs or as many as 55.
I know photo #1 looks a little weird but what you're actually looking at is a bunch of those grow plugs getting hydrated in my kitchen sink. It just takes a few minutes.
The next step is to put them into the foam grow-plug holder. What I like about this system is that it's no muss/no fuss because you don't have to mess with seed-starting mix that gets all over everything during the process. (or maybe it's just me who's messy!)
Each grow plug has a little indentation at the top which is where you place the seed. You don't have to cover the seed or anything. If you click on photo #2, you can see the indentations that I'm talking about.
It works perfectly for small to mid-sized seeds but I wouldn't recommend using it for large-seeded crops like pumpkins, beans, squash or melons because you really have to jam the seeds into those indentations, which can make it difficult for the seed sprouts to easily pop up out of there.
Photo #2 shows the grow plugs in the foam holder. That plastic bag in the background contains finely-milled sphagnum moss, which inhibits the fungal disease called "damping-off." You can find it at large garden centers like Northwest Seed & Pet. Just sprinkle a very light layer of it across the tops of the grow plugs.
At this point, you need to place the green growing tray where it's going to stay while the seeds are germinating. Fill the green tray with water until the foam grow-plug holder is floating freely. I know that seems like a lot of water and that you're going to drown those poor seedlings but it works GREAT.
Photo #3 shows the clear plastic cover, which I put on last in order to increase the humidity. That is what seeds need to germinate. The other thing I do is to put a long piece of painter's tape (see the blue tape?) across the front of the flat. That's where I label what's in each row to save time and plant labels for the time being. Once I transplant the seedlings, I will make sure they're labeled so I know what's what.
Now you know how this sort of system works. It's basically a mini hydroponic growing system. Once the seedlings have 2 to 4 true leaves, you can transplant them into larger containers filled with organic potting soil. They transplant really well and you will be shocked when you see how large the root system is!