All Things Gardening forum: Rootrainer Kit - Not worth it for indoor seed starting

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Name: Julia
Upstate NY (Zone 6a)
Clematis Daylilies Irises Region: New York Hummingbirder Seed Starter
Vegetable Grower I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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JuliaNY
Feb 4, 2012 10:41 AM CST
I thought to post my experience with this product and hopefully save someone else time and money.

I ordered the Rootrainer Kit from Lee Valley. It just arrived this past week and after opening the package and examining the various parts, it is very cheaply made.
They give you what they call a frame which requires minimal assembly. The frame just consists of light plastic which is suppose to snap together easily. Not quite as easy as they represent. There is no bottom to the frame, so if your watering your seedlings, you definitely need to put the frame inside of another container. No top like you see on most seed starting setups.

The cells (books) are made of what I can only described as the material with ridges you would find in a cookie or cracker box/tin. VERY flimsy and no obvious way to snap the cell/book closed securely. They claim the cells/books are reusable but in my opinion, given the flimsy construction, they would only last 1 seed starting season. Just my opinion from the merchandise I received. Instructions are written on the back of the advertisement that is slipped into the packaging.

I thought I would experiment with these for vegetable and perennials since the depth was deeper on the cells. I'm still looking for this type of cell depth, heavier material. What I received is going back to Lee Valley. Just be careful when
purchasing this type of product from other sellers online as I know that several well known companies do sell what appears to be the same product.



Julia
Upstate NY
Zone 6
Name: Tami Smith
Naylor, GA (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Lilies
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mollymistsmith
Feb 4, 2012 11:16 AM CST
Julia,

Thanks for letting us know. Your review is such a great help. Smiling Group hug
Tami
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Feb 4, 2012 11:31 AM CST
I had one of those quite a few years ago. It worked well for me and did what it was advertised to do, encouraging long root systems, easily flipped open for plant removal, etc. But yep, care was needed to not tear apart the books since the plastic was fairly flimsy. Mine lasted several years but I quit using them, finding it much easier to simply repot my seedlings into deeper containers to encourage a bigger/longer root system.

Glad you were able to return them, Julia. I hope you got your money back, too.

Shoe

Name: Julia
Upstate NY (Zone 6a)
Clematis Daylilies Irises Region: New York Hummingbirder Seed Starter
Vegetable Grower I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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JuliaNY
Feb 4, 2012 12:08 PM CST
Lee Valley is a very reputable company and we've purchased things before from them but never had anything of this poor quality. Good thing I didn't wait till March to open the packaging and try to put this together. At least I have my standby smaller cell trays to work with if I can't find a suitable substitute.

Julia
Upstate NY
Zone 6
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 4, 2012 12:29 PM CST
I used a similar rootrainer kit from T&M for the first time last year and was very happy with it. The British versions come with a humidity dome. After germination, the dome gets flipped over, the frame sits in the tray, and it works well for bottom watering.
http://www.tmseeds.com/product/Rootrainers/Shop_Gardening_Su...

My kit was easy to assemble. I used it to start impatiens.
Thumb of 2012-02-04/kqcrna/68ba33

You can see the great root development on the seedlings
Thumb of 2012-02-04/kqcrna/932454

Karen
Name: Julia
Upstate NY (Zone 6a)
Clematis Daylilies Irises Region: New York Hummingbirder Seed Starter
Vegetable Grower I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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JuliaNY
Feb 4, 2012 1:35 PM CST
Karen: I'll check out that company. I tip my hat to you.
Were the cell/books made a heavy plastic? I found the ones I got very flimsy.
How dd you prepare the books for planting and did they snap together to close?
The dome reverting to a tray is exactly what I expected.


Julia
Upstate NY
Zone 6
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Feb 4, 2012 2:24 PM CST
The cell/book material did feel flimsy, I thought, but held up well. They're in fine shape for re-using. I wouldn't say they really snap closed. But once they're closed, they're stuffed very tightly into the frame, so there's no way they're going to spontaneously explode open.

I know of 2 companies that sell the ones like you had, without the domes- Lee Valley, and Park Seed used to sell a similar one. T&M was the only place I found the Brittish, domed ones last year. They were made by Haxnicks.
http://www.haxnicks.co.uk/garden/rootrainers/

Gardener's Supply is currently marketing two. It appears one has the dome, the other does not.
http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners...

But there might be other companies in the U.S. who offer them?

Karen
Name: Julia
Upstate NY (Zone 6a)
Clematis Daylilies Irises Region: New York Hummingbirder Seed Starter
Vegetable Grower I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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JuliaNY
Feb 8, 2012 6:33 PM CST
I shipped mine back yesterday to Lee Valley. I'm still browsing for a better fit for my needs.

Karen: Did you have to start all your seeds at the same time when using the one you bought? Most of my seeds will start at different times.

Julia
Upstate NY
Zone 6
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Feb 8, 2012 6:45 PM CST
Well, yes, I do sow the whole thing, with all the same seeds (impatiens).

With regular flats, I have sown 6 packs of different things in the same flat at the same time but I think that's less than ideal, since different seeds have different needs and vary so much in the amount of time it takes to germinate.

Karen

haxnicks
Feb 29, 2012 7:32 AM CST
Hi there, I just wanted to answer some of the queries on this thread. There are 2 manufacturers of rootrainers - One in Canada, and the other in the UK, which is me! I'm proud of my product, so wanted to defend it! Our trays dont clip together, they are rigid and pre-formed, like in kqcrna 's pictures. (Nice pictures kqcrna!)
MY commercial grower customers report an average of 6 to 8 years use for a rootrainer book, with 2 plantings annually. we also do offer a model for indoor use with a drip tray to catch the water, called the Compact Rapid rootrainer, and propagating lids are also standard. Hope that helps, let me know if i can answer any other questions, you can reach us through our website [url=www.haxnicks.co.uk]www.haxnicks.co.uk[/url] , mention my name and i'll get the message. I have tons of literature on how to get the best out of rootrainers should anyone want it. Good luck with the Spring season everybody,
Tom
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Feb 29, 2012 8:03 AM CST
Hi Tom, how nice of you to pop in.

I was always leery of the Canadian ones with no dome. I was happy enough with the deep Haxnicks one that I used last year to just recently buy another- the compact one from Gardener's Supply, made by Haxnicks.
http://www.gardeners.com/Rootrainer-%238482%3B%2C-Compact/Se...
I've always found Gardener's Supply to be a reputable company.

I just seeded the new compact one a couple of days ago and plan to use the deep one from last year for impatiens again. They're in fine shape for reuse.

Karen
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Apr 25, 2012 6:26 PM CST
A little update. My impatiens in roottrainers.
Thumb of 2012-04-26/kqcrna/63b889

Roots. I think these things are awesome
Thumb of 2012-04-26/kqcrna/1a0413

Karen

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