Cells or Flats and for what?

Hi I was wondering what is the best method for starting seeds both flowers and veg

I've been mostly starting in cells but obviously it takes more space and you get the odd failure. With flats you have to separate the plants and transplant but i guess you use less space although you might lose some due to handling the tiny seedlings.

So what rule of thumb do you use? What should be started now?



  • clogherheadclogherhead Posts: 506

    Hi Blackest , I use seed trays that I buy in Aldi I also buy their compost as I find I do get good quality and providing you give adequate protection all seeds that can be started now , I wait on till they have true leaves too plant out weather permitting .


  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    I hardly ever use seed trays these days ( and I guess that's what you mean by 'flats'). I use modules ( cells) and also lengths of guttering. The advantage of the latter is that you can just slide the small plants straight into a prepared area in the ground. You could also sow a few seeds into small pots, and then prick them out as needed to grow on - seedlings are surprisingly resilient if handled properly. I suppose it depends on what space you have and what you want to grow. I've got a greenhouse with an electric propagator, and have already started sweet peas, garden peas, mange tout, broad beans, carrots, peppers, tomatoes and coriander. Planning to sow calendula, Brassicas and parsley this week.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 14,226

    I sow small seeds, mostly flowers in trays and large seeds, eg courgettes, runner beans in pots. I often put a stick such as short piece of bamboo in the middle of the trays and grow different things in each half. I enjoy pricking out. Some plants don't transplant well, such as carrots, beetroot, so if you want to get an early start then do as figrat does and use lengths of guttering in the green house to be slid into a hollowed length in veg garden later. I have 3 small electric propogaters and a greenhouse but I haven't sown a lot yet as it's been cold and when the plants are up and pricked out into pots then take up a lot of room in the greenhouse and I order plug plants too which will be arriving the end of March.

    I've sown 3 sorts of tomato, French marigolds, ageratums, penstemons, which are up now but too small to prick out. Will be sowing more, such as courgettes, squash, cucumbers, runner beans, later. Sown broad beans and peas outside, not up yet, don't know if they will be owing to awful weather.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • blackestblackest Posts: 623

    I'm slowly getting limited for space my heated propagator is in my living room my greenhouse is kind of packed for now. The frosty nights have me feeling a little over protective of my shrubs image I have a 16 by 8 poly greenhouse which is actually 2 8x8 zipped together its orientated north to south so the front half is being used for growing and the back for storage right now. I made a frame about 1.5 metres by 1 metre which is standing on concrete which isn't being used yet (except to store firewood) I can't plant out yet because i am waiting on top soil (hopefully at the weekend). Germination seems a little slow in the greenhouse so i'm trying to speed things up with the heated propagator I made. Hopefully it will all come together with a lot of transplanting from mid april onwards.

    Theres about 400 litres of compost waiting to be used image



  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Tiny seeds in trays, larger one in small pots - it doesn't really matter, just what you find easiest and most suitable for sthe spaces you have.  I've done peas in guttering but not carrots or beetroots, sounds like a good idea, shall give that a go.


  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 7,604

    I try to use cells for just about everything other than the smallest seeds. I find that by sowing 2 or 3 per cell I minimise risk of getting nothing. When the plants are big enough I transfer direct to final positions which causes little root disturbance.

    Time is never time at all
    You can never ever leave
    Without leaving a piece of youth
  • blackestblackest Posts: 623

    Thank you for all the good advice. looks like tonights going to be cold -2 but forecast is good but wet at times for the rest of the week. At least 5 C according to the BBC.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    On GQT on Sunday, one of the presenters said that he uses square section guttering, which apparently holds more compost, and grows all his salads and a few herbs in that, right through till harvesting, not bothering to prick or plant out.
  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    The idea of using guttering sounds like a good idea, but do you drill holes in the bottom for drainage or is that not necessary?

  • blackestblackest Posts: 623

    At a guess i'd say not really necessary since the ends are open but it wouldn't be that hard to drill them if it becomes a problem. I guess another thing you could do is hang sections and garden vertically (I think that was mentioned too).

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