a new (to me) way to start seeds

There are a lot of benefits to start your own seeds – having a wider variety of plants to choose from is one of the major benefits.  Plus, it can save a lot of money if one uses energy-efficient lighting on a timer.  

I have personally been starting seeds for the past 4 years – graduating from an old laundry basket to a ghetto shelf and ultimately this year a seed starting tower that I am making from old ceiling lamps that I scored for 5 Euros a pop.  


A big cost in the past was the containers for starting the seeds.  The plastic trays are not that durable and they are only big enough for the seedlings for a couple weeks.  This year, I am ditching the plastic.  I don’t want to pay for something I know that is going break. Plus, I want it to be environmentally friendly.  

To do this, I am using soil blockers and wooden seed starting trays.

I will need four sizes of soil blockers.  I was lucky enough to receive two soil blockers for Christmas (thanks mom!).  One produces 4, 2” cubes (~ 5cm).  The other produces 20, 3/4” cubes (~ 1.9cm).  I will then build an additional 2 blockers.  One will produce 3x3x3” (~8cm) cubes and the other will produce 4x4x4” (10cm) cubes.

My seed starting trays are made from reclaimed/recycled wood .  The trays will be in plant starting towers that I am making using some posts that were left in the apartment when we moved in.

I am making the following sizes of seed starting trays (per plant tower, so actually there will be double the number of boxes):

  • 2 boxes that are 12×12” (30x30cm).  These boxes will be for the microblocker.  This size is primarily used for germination – especially for plants that require the heating mat.  Each box will hold 120 microblocks.  I still need some of the parts for finishing up this box.
  • 8 boxes that are ~10×12” (25x30cm).  The boxes that are this size will be for the ¾”/~2cm blocks.  Each box will hold 24 blocks.
  • 3 boxes that are ~26×12” (65x30cm).  These boxes will hold the 3”/4” (8/10cm) cubes.  Each box will hold approximately 18 plants.  I also need more wood for this part, or at least to cut the wood that I already have.  Additionally, I need to build the larger soil blockers, but that is a project for next month.

As you can see, I still have quite a ways to go, but I am getting there and quite pleased with my success thus far.  My next steps are:

  • Cutting the last of the lathes for the seed starting boxes and attaching them
  • Planning which seeds to start and when (space on the heat mat is a valuable commodity)
  • Finishing the seed starting tower (stay tuned)

Happy Gardening!


7 thoughts on “a new (to me) way to start seeds

  1. I never heard of soil blockers, had too look up online what they were .. so cool! I love that they don’t create any waste and you can use them ad infinitum. I like the idea of wooden trays too, so much sturdier … are you planning to treat them with anything to prevent rot? I guess you could polyurethane but I’m not sure if that leaches. Even untreated they should last 2-3 years. Very cool project, thanks for sharing!

    1. I think they are super cool, too! It is my first time using them, so we will see how everything goes. As for the boxes, I will not treat them with anything unless I find some sort of magic biologically sourced protectant…and just writing that sounds too expensive. The wood is all recycled stuff that would have gone in the garbage. It can be composted in a few years when I am sure that I will be able to find more.

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