DIY Wooden Seed Trays

Hello Everyone!

Well, I’ve been working on a new project and I thought I would share it with you!

DIY Wooden Seed Trays

Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but those little plastic seeding trays are just about worthless. They last for one season if you’re lucky and any amount of time in the sun will make them extremely brittle. My trays spent very little time in the sun last year and they are falling apart. In fact, I picked up one yesterday, just a single tray with no cells in it and it cracked under it’s own weight. Now it’s totally worthless. I don’t really feel like spending $5 per tray for those things anymore.

So now, in part of our effort to remove plastic from our lives, I’m switching over to wooden trays. This also means I’m getting rid of cell packs. As wonderful as those little things are at keeping plants separate, they are not worth the pollution and money to replace them every year (they are more fragile than the tray itself).

So here are the trays. Nothing incredibly fancy, but very durable, deeper than regular trays (for larger plants) and they are going to last for years and years. As an added bonus, they cost about half as much.

These trays are built from 1″x4″ planed lumber. I bought a standard quality pine to keep them inexpensive. I believe an 8′ board was less than $2. On top of that, Menards has a “value wood” bin with cut off ends that people didn’t want. I can get 24″ boards, already cut for me, for 49 cents. I chose 1×4 because it’s readily available and it’s thick enough to be sturdy. I can even use them as a stepping stool if I want. You could make this out of a thinner board or lathe strips, but I’m not sure if it would last as long.

One tray is made of six 24″ lengths and two 9″ lengths attached together with 4D nails (1.5″). I attached one bottom board to the long side first, then attached the other bottom boards while adding the short ends. If you click on the photos you can get an idea of how they go together, it’s dead simple.

All together, one of these trays costs me about $2.50 in wood and nails. Not only were we able to build trays that last for years, but we were able to get them for half the price of plastic ones.

The only thing I am going to do to improve these trays is attach handles to either end (on the short side). It may bump up their cost a hair, but it will still be well below the plastic trays.

Happy tray building!

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12 Comments Add yours

    1. I definitely want to do soil blocks in the future! Right now I use little paper cups for bigger plants, but soil blocks would be great!

  1. bluewolf50 says:

    Excellent! I’ll be making some of these myself!

    1. They are totally worth it! I’ve already put mine to work holding all my cups of basket-willow cuttings! They are excellent.

  2. dreamfarming says:

    Could you cut out handles from the sides? Than you wouldn’t have to buy anything extra. Here is a link to what I mean.

    1. I was thinking about that, but I wanted to preserve the depth of the tray in case I have tomatoes or peppers in it that get larger before they are planted.

    2. Maybe an idea would be to just attach little lugs on the sides. Just a small piece of wood to grasp instead of an actual handle.

  3. FreshlyGroundHome says:

    This is a great idea! I was going to mention soil blocks too, but someone already did that – you could make your own blocker. There are lots of instructables for different methods to make them (they’re on my list to make as well, for the reasons you mention.)

    1. I’ll have to do some research to see if I have the skills to make them! I’ve been building a lot of stuff lately, so I’m feel confident!

      1. FreshlyGroundHome says:

        I think you could! 🙂

  4. Hey there, Ben! Great idea. I’ve done this and saved all our empty toilet paper rolls, cut them in half and filled with seed starter mix. They do a great job separating seedlings and you can put them right in the ground without disturbing fragile roots.

    1. I’m going to have to save up for next year!

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