The AeroGarden Garden Starter Tray Kit

Start Your Garden Indoors

Have you had mixed results from sprouting seeds indoors under lights? Do you accomplish this, only to find that your developed transplants do not thrive outdoors? What’s the secret to sprouting tomatoes inside?

If you’ve already got an AeroGarden, consider their accessory, the Garden Starter Tray. The tray is a die-cut, styrofoam tray with 66 holes, which fits down inside the bowl of your AeroGarden (the top part of the AeroGarden with the pump is removed for this purpose). In each of the holes is placed a biodegradable sponge bursting with just the right nutrients for young seedlings. After planting the holes, the bowl is filled with water and the sponges stay moist, providing just the right environment for germination. After two weeks, you put special nutrients in the water which help develop your seedlings into transplants. There’s no soil, no mess!

Garden Starter Tray photo by Jodi Torpey, used by permission

The Kit

My Experience

I have just recently transplanted plants which were in my starter tray. Germination is unbelievably fast, with most seeds coming up in 2-3 days. I have sprouted beets, kale, turnips, broccoli, and marigolds.

Have you seen the recommendations on some seed packets? “Indoor sprouting not recommended. Does not transplant well”. Well, forget this warning! Both my beets and turnips had this instruction, yet my transplants are growing right now in my garden. My only germination failure was the Swiss chard -- it did better planted outside.

My curiosity knew no bounds! I also experimented with sugar snap peas, even though it was not the time of the year for them. They germinated very quickly, and grew even too quickly for me. I believe they would not be able to stay in the starter tray very long, because of the limits on the distance you can place the lights from them.

Biodegradable Grow Plugs

Advantages

As with most indoor sprouting systems, you can get a jump on the season. If it’s too hot or too frigid for seeds to germinate, the starter tray is the ticket.

There is no guesswork once seeds sprout. Simply keep the water level up in the bowl, and add nutrients when your timer light comes on.

The garden tray system grows strong transplants. I only had one plant die after the hardening-off procedure. In all other cases, the transplants bounced back more quickly from disagreeable weather, wind, and insect attacks compared to similar transplants I purchased from a nursery.

Since the roots are growing hydroponically into the sponge, when you get ready, you poke the sponge out. Rather than hold the transplant by the leaves, you have a nice sponge to give you a firm hold as you take the plant to your garden.

If you have to leave for a couple of days, you don’t have to worry. The lights will go on and off automatically on the “tomatoes and peppers” setting, and your water level won’t drop much.

You will harden off your seedlings by lifting the bowl and tray out of the light unit, and moving it outdoors. When you bring it back inside, you merely set it down on the light unit again. It’s so convenient and portable.

Disadvantages

The kit comes with 66 biodegradable sponges (proprietary from AeroGarden). You will have to purchase refill sponges next season.

There are 66 holes in the tray. I didn’t plant all of them because of concerns about crowding. I planned my hole spacings with the same care that some people plan the seating at a dinner party. Although I did not experience a problem with shading, it could have happened if I used all the holes.

AeroGrow, Inc. just kind of assumes that you’re germinating everything at the same time. The adding of nutrients, the timing, is all synchronized. I got around this problem with the broccoli, which I planted ahead of everything else, by putting the broccoli transplants into their own 4” pots when they got too big. Sort of an intermediate staging area for the broccoli. Don’t be too concerned about the timing stuff, though.

Sprouting broccoli transplant from my starter tray

Conclusion

I highly recommend the AeroGarden Garden Starter Tray. I’m new at gardening, but the kit has made the growing of transplants almost idiot-proof for me. Get one for the amazing experimentation potential and for easy growth of garden transplants.

*The AeroGarden Garden Starter Tray works only with the AeroGarden 6 or the Classic 7-hole AeroGarden. The kit includes the tray, 66 sponges, and all the nutrients you'll need for the life of the transplant indoors.

 

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