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Bottom-Watering Seedling Trays with Cotton Flannel Prevents Water-Logging

By RickCorey
January 14, 2014

You can bottom-water seedlings right in their tray if you put a fuzzy capillary mat between the pots and the water-holding tray under them. Add only a little water at a time, and the mat will carry that water in equal amounts to every pot or cell.

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jan 13, 2014 11:33 PM CST
RickCorey,
I always enjoy your explanations. This one was especially helpful and timely, thanks.
Plus another use for parachute cord!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 14, 2014 12:26 PM CST
I do think the little "wicks" in the grooves make this work much better.

The "reservoir" is only the water held in the flannel, plus water in the grooves of the tray. When there are wicks in some of the grooves, the flannel can "get at" the water in the grooves.

I wish I could thnik of something from Goodwill that would lift the flannel and the pots or inserts UP an inch or so. Then the whole 1020 tray could be a reservoir (if the flannel dangled down into it).
Name: Peter
(Zone 9a)
The only scarce resource is time
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Cantillon
Jan 14, 2014 1:54 PM CST
How about corks under a polystyrene sheet to hold the tray up an inch or so. They cost nothing, the champagne ones have rivet heads, they can be trimmed to fit?

Leave the polystyrene sheet a quarter inch from each end and drop the end of the capillary matting into the reservoir.

You could glue the corks to the bottom of the polystyrene sheet.
[Last edited by Cantillon - Jan 14, 2014 2:00 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 14, 2014 3:23 PM CST
>> glue the corks to the bottom of the polystyrene sheet.

That answers my concern about it being fragile or tending to tumble if I bumped the tray.

Where do you find cheap polystyrene sheets? If they are cheap enough and stiff enough, I would glue one under all my 1020 trays, to stiffen them.

Name: Peter
(Zone 9a)
The only scarce resource is time
Dahlias Dog Lover Bee Lover Cottage Gardener Roses Bulbs
Seed Starter Lilies Hybridizer Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Cantillon
Jan 14, 2014 7:07 PM CST
I guess you could get them in Home Depot for next to not very much, or Lowes, I'll have a wander around tomorrow and report back.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 14, 2014 7:50 PM CST
Thank you!

Home Depot is so big that they should offer GPS locators! I'm trying to think of which department I would look in.
Name: Peter
(Zone 9a)
The only scarce resource is time
Dahlias Dog Lover Bee Lover Cottage Gardener Roses Bulbs
Seed Starter Lilies Hybridizer Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Cantillon
Jan 16, 2014 12:32 PM CST
Actually Hobby Lobby or some of those places would have sheets. It might be as simple as measuring, drawing a line across the sheet , then snapping it. They also sell corks so you don't drown yourself in vino trying to get all the little seedling feet dry.

I agree with Home Depot and Lowes, every trip is a life time and somehow not very satisfying sometimes.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 16, 2014 6:59 PM CST
I was thinking that squares cut from 2x2 lumber might be more stable than corks, for supporting a cap mat plus cells or pots.

Also, I've been looking for cheap, deep, cheap, sturdy cheap trays. Dollar store cat litter boxes come closest. But they never fit 1020 - sized plug trays or inserts.

I finally realized that I don't need them to be 12"x22" (or whatever). I always cut my prop trays and inserts into manageable sizes, like 1/3rd or 1/5th of a 1020 tray. Then I can sow all one varioety in one "segment" and move it to another tray with no dome or humidity film when it emerges.

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