So: onward and upward with my efforts to replace my stack of green and black plastic seed trays with lovely organic and handsome wooden ones instead. Here are the options I’ve been trying out this spring:
1: Home made
I have discovered that while you can buy full-sized seed trays off the shelf, the half-sized trays I favour for many of my sowings are more difficult to come by. You can make your own from recycled pallets, or get in some Western red cedar which I’m told by my carpenter husband is slower to rot than most woods, but is imported so less environmentally-friendly. It takes more time to make a seed tray, but it is phenomenally cheap: I am experimenting with different methods and will report back.
Second-hand finds at reclamation yards and online auction sites have, frustratingly, almost always wine boxes or fruit crates which are NOT wooden seed trays – they’re too deep, for one thing, and much too large. The ideal size for a seed tray is (about) 38cm x 23cm x 5cm: anything larger than this is getting difficult to use.
Proper wooden seed trays, even in those garden brocante places that charge the earth for old gardening stuff, are as rare as hen’s teeth. I’ve just scoured every stall in the Chelsea Flower Show, where garden brocante is de rigueur, and found not a single seed tray. So I’ve given up.
There are, I discover, lots of places which sell proper wooden seed trays, and very handsome they are too. I am feeling a product review coming on. The ones I’ve decided to trial this year are:
Great Dixter seed trays: These look a little on the deep side compared to what I’m used to, at 6.5cm, and they are expensive – £8 for two (plus £5 shipping, so that’s £6.50 per tray to you, guv). But they use them on the nursery to this day: and what’s good enough for the late, great Christopher Lloyd is good enough for me.
Burgon & Ball Wooden Seed Tray Set: One of the very few – actually, the only one I could find – to offer a half-tray option. A little froufrou for my liking (why is it that people can’t resist printing things on the side of wooden seed trays?), and I think I’m going to find them deep as the height is 8cm on these. Price is £12.99 + £4.95 shipping, so £17.94, more expensive and definitely a pricey option.
D&P Marchant Seed Trays: And last but not least: the eBay option. This is a small business based in the Lleyn Peninsula in north Wales, hand-making wooden seed trays (and other things) from reclaimed timber. They aren’t cheap, at £9.75 (though that does include postage) – but the attraction here is that they get a lot cheaper if you order more. I spotted a stack of 10 for £47.99, which is a much more reasonable £4.79 a tray. And no postage costs. And they do half-trays, too.
I have collected all three to put through their paces and will report back later in the year!