Looking for some input!

heirloomer08(4 IA)February 28, 2009

Hi all, I am lucky enough to work for a plastics company and have come up with an idea. We can thermo form sheets of plastic into most any shape that we want. With that being said here is what I am designing. I am working on making seed starter trays out of 1/8" thick HDPE plastic. I am tired of having to use those thin basically throw away plastic seed starter trays. These are going to be heavy duty and 100% reuseable, made out of 100% recycled plastic. Now the question, do any of you "seasoned" gardeners have any likes or dislikes about starter trays. I am looking for any and all likes and dislikes as I want to design the "perfect" reusable seed trays. Any input good or bad would be great!

Please let me know.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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corgicorner(Mass 6/7)

Your request sounds like you will really like to please your customers. My problem with the seed starters is that they are not long enough---I am talking about those which will fit on a window sill. Possibly you could devise a system where you could make them various lengths. OR, go to a lumber yard and ask to see a popular window catalog. From that you probably determine which size windows are popular. AND, don't forget a saucer--high enough so that a "drop" of water will not cause an overflow. Thanks for listening, and GOOD LUCK !

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:21PM
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paradisa(Zone 5 NY Adirondacks)

What a great idea! I start alot of plants in my greenhouse. I do use those thin plastic 6pack plant holders that don't last more than two seasons. I would love something that would be more durable. I would like them to have holes in the bottom of them I like the six or eight hooked together idea though because thats what I usually plant of each variety, maybee the individual compartments to be like 1 1/2" square and 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.( I can transplant into bigger single containers when they get bigger) .I would like a base pan with 3" high sides to put four or six of the "six pack starters in" with a inch or two gap on the end to easily add more water. I have a hard time finding the base pans without holes.(which I would be interested in some without the six pack thingeys) Hope my input helps.

I think you have a great idea and wish you the best of luck.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:19PM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

Not sure if you are thinking of this for indoor seed starting or for wintersowing.

If indoor under lights, I have no info for you as I have no place to start seeds indoors.

If you are thinking of this for wintersowing, then seed starting trays are not deep enough.
Containers need to be 3-4 inches deep and my preference is for individual containers for each kind of seed that I sow.

Not sure if WS would like your idea of seed starter trays.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:39PM
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I use the flimsy plastic as well. However, I prefer the kits for starting perennials in. The size is approximately 4"sq. (H x W) and 4 inches deep. It would be great if those were more durable, and had room at each end, and possibly from and back, for bottom watering. I also think it would be nice if the dome was more rounded with the option of keeping it cracked open after seeds sprout, so there is air circulation, yet the heat and moister are a bit more controlled than having to take the lid completely.

You have a great idea, and with customer concerns like yours, you are sure to please!


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:44PM
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heirloomer08(4 IA)

As you all are aware, this project will not be able to be completed for this years growing season. I am doing a lot of R & D on the idea and ALL of you have had some great input. I thank you all for your input! Please don't let the ideas stop. I will take all of the ideas and come up with one or more tray prototypes. Thanks for all the help and keep the ideas coming.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 8:50AM
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jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

Perry, I agree with Carrie, perhaps something with a sturdy sliding air vents on the domes? I've had some that have them, but it's all so flimsy and not very cost effective when you have to replace them every year or so. Then the domes could be deeper as well to allow for seedlings that have sprouted and are growing, but still leave one able to accommodate the seeds that are a little slower to sprout. I always get concerned when I have about a third of the seeds I've started sprout and break the soil, but the others are still needing the high humidity to sprout. Something deep enough to where I don't need to worry about either setting them out in a week's time or transplanting them almost immediately into larger pots would be good too, especially for those with limited storage space. And the thin ones aren't very durable when you use heat mats either. They're already flimsy, and become more so when you rest them on a heat mat. It's like juggling and you need eight hands because the larger ones want to sag in the middle if they're still even a little bit warm. I like my lettuce in a sandwich, but sheesh! Something where you have the option to create a self watering/wicking system if you're going to be away for a day or so would be great too!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 9:16AM
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heirloomer08(4 IA)

Have a question. With all the great ideas so far it would now start to be a cost factor. If all of the ideas are emplemented and I am able to design a tray with all the bells and whisles. What is the average gardener going to want to spend on 1 starter tray? $5, $10, $15, $20 that is the question. The trays I am wanting to design are going to cost more then the cheap thin ones. With that being said, it will be a higher first time cost but the long term it should cost less then the throw away ones. Reason being is the durablity of the heavier plastic. Let's discuss the cost factor and see what everybody's thoughts are on that side of the issue.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 11:51AM
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gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

Well, the closer you can stay to the competition the better. So, if a seed starting greenhouse with liner, tray and cover costs 10 I would not go above about 12-13. AND it would need to be widely advertised that these are stronger,thicker much more durable and what the expected life span is supposed to be. I think b/c , like everyone has said, these have to be replaced every couple years, people would replace their existing trays slowly with the new ones. I thin if you go above about 15 itis too much. I know I don't buy my trays until clearance time. Even then, I save any containers I purchase plants in and butter and other dishes and reuse those. Good Luck.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 3:21PM
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I would have to say $20.00 for myself. Because, as you've said, in the long run, it would save money, and time! Something that could be used over and over again is well worth the $20.00 or even $25.00 for me.
People pay up to $40.00 for heating mats because it is beneficial. These trays, too, will be beneficial!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 6:47PM
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heirloomer08(4 IA)

Well, I'm going back into some deep thought on these trays. I just have to say "2 THUMBS UP" for everybody here at GW!!! I had kind of stalled out in my thought process for these trays. Sometimes I believe I was thinking to hard on them. With all the new ideas here I have some new angles to look at. Sometimes, working outside the box, makes it easier to work inside the box. Thanks for you help and I will post a new thread when I have a prototype done.
Although, if anybody has a different idea and hasn't posted it yet. Please, by all means, post it.
Thanks, Perry

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 9:42PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I am lucky enough to work for a plastics company and have come up with an idea.

So would these be something then that would be produced by your company? I think that just because you will be able to boldly be able to say Made in the USA will make them worth buying as opposed to the cheaper, flimsy disposable ones that are foreign made.

I'm always so surprised and pleased when I find something I want or need and it just happens to be made in the USA.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 10:16PM
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jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

AMEN, Sue!! Just to find something made in the USA anymore is reason to celebrate and to actually purchase it. Especially if it is COMPLETELY manufactured and assembled in the US! Too often something we see labeled as "Made in the USA" has been manufactured elsewhere and assembled in the USA. IMO, we need to concentrate more on supporting companies that manufacture AND assemble completely in the USA. So much outsourcing has created inferior products along with undercutting OUR financial stability. Those inferior products do not last as long and helps add to the problem of our country's people becoming a "throw away" society. We just keep feeding the whole monster. I know I would be happy to pay $20 for seed starting trays that were well made, lasted long enough to be an investment, did what I need it to do and allowed me to control the air flow, etc (all the above mentioned) and was manufactured and assembled in the USA. Not only would I be getting a well made product that would last for years, but I would be supporting a company that is getting back to the basics of working, promoting and producing our country first.

LOL, sorry.. got off into my own speech there!


    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 8:19AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I had kind of stalled out in my thought process for these trays. Sometimes I believe I was thinking to hard on them.
I frequently do that and sometimes/oftentimes just end up getting over it and abandoning all thoughts of 'it'. I think that might be due to AADD.

Cost...The cost to manufacture would be the first determining factor.
Cost of similarly sized throwaway (usually foreign made) units would be the second factor.

Maybe make them customizable with the pieces being available, or as a kit.

I too think a base tray with no holes for watering would be nice. Then one could use a flat, with holes in it within the base tray and different sized 4 packs or 6 packs would fit in the flat.

The base tray with no holes could be an optional item for watering from below. One base tray could then be used to water several flats from below, watering them one at a time.

Now...marketing...Have you thought about the Home Shopping Network? That would get the word out there for sure!

Best of luck to you.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 8:38AM
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