One of the questions I am often asked at this time of year is how to clean seed starting trays. It’s important to start with clean seed starting trays to prevent diseases from attacking your new plants. Here’s how to clean seed starting trays.
How to Clean Seed Starting Trays
The old saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is quite true when it comes to seed starting. Dirty seed starting trays can cause all sorts of problems and diseases. Damping off fungus, rot, mold and other microorganisms thrive in the warm, moist environment that many seeds need to germinate. You can prevent these problems by learning the proper method of how to clean seed starting trays.
Put Trays Away CLEAN
The first step is to always put your seed starting equipment (and pots) away CLEAN. Dump all the soil into the compost pile or garden. Use your garden hose with the setting on high or a strong spray to rinse trays. Let them dry in the sun. Then store them in your shed or garage until next year.
How to Clean Trays for Seed Starting
To sterilize your seed starting trays and equipment, you will need:
- 9 cups of water
- 1 cup of household bleach
- 1 large bucket or a stopper for a big sink to submerge the trays
The ratio of bleach to water is always 9 parts water to 1 part bleach, so you can adjust the amounts listed above by whatever you need them to be, as long as the proportion of bleach to water is kept the same.
Make sure that all loose soil is removed from seed starting trays. Mix water and bleach. Submerge the trays. You may wish to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Let the trays sit in the bleach and water solution for 10 minutes. Then remove them from the solution, rinse with cool water, and let them air dry.
They’re ready for your seed starting season.
Use Sterile Seed Starting Soil
Another trick to prevent diseases among your seedlings is to start with sterile, bagged seed starting ix from your local home and garden center. Potting soil can also work. If you dig soil up from your backyard or garden, it will contain bacteria, mold spores, fungi and insects. In your nice warm home, with a comfy moist environment, all of those will grow and thrive…and that’s NOT what you want germinating in your seed trays.
Another easy way to prevent disease is to use peat pots or disks. These are sold at your local home and garden store or nursery and look like the ones featured, below. You submerge them in warm water for about 10 minutes and they expand. Then you simply plant one seed per pot in the little hole in the top. Place the expanded peat pots into a tray, keep it well watered, and when you are ready to transplant into your garden, you just slip the whole pot, peat and all, into the soil. It’s a great way of starting seeds, especially for plants who hate to have their roots disturbed.
Need More Help Starting Seeds? Check Out These Articles
I’ve written many other articles on starting seeds. Please visit the links, below, for more information on starting seeds.