Seed Starting Trays and Jiffy Pots Explained

How to Use Seed Starting Trays and Jiffy Pots?

To use seed starting trays, fill each cell with a high-quality, well-draining seed starting mix. Place one to three seeds in each cell, following the depth recommendations on the seed packet. Cover the tray with a clear plastic dome to maintain humidity and place it in a warm location until germination occurs. Once the seedlings emerge, remove the dome and provide them with adequate light, water, and ventilation.

Jiffy pots, made from compressed peat moss, offer a biodegradable and convenient option for starting seeds. To use Jiffy pots, soak them in water until they expand fully. Place the pots in a tray and fill them with seed starting mix. Plant the seeds according to the packet instructions and cover the tray with a clear plastic dome.

Once the seedlings emerge, remove the dome and provide them with proper care. The main advantage of Jiffy pots is that they can be planted directly into the garden, minimizing root disturbance during transplanting. However, be sure to remove any excess peat material from the top of the pot before planting to prevent it from wicking moisture away from the roots.

Key Takeaways

  • Seed starting trays and Jiffy pots allow for indoor seed starting 6-8 weeks before the last frost.
  • Use a high-quality, well-draining seed starting mix for both options.
  • Plant 1-3 seeds per cell/pot, following seed packet depth recommendations.
  • Cover trays with clear plastic domes to maintain humidity until germination.
  • Remove domes once seedlings emerge and provide adequate light, water, and ventilation.
  • Jiffy pots are biodegradable and can be planted directly into the garden.
  • DIY alternatives like cardboard egg cartons can be used as seed starting trays.
  • Compost is a preferred growing medium; sand and coconut coir can be added for better drainage.
  • Daily watering and plenty of sunlight are crucial for seedling development.
  • When transplanting, consider removing excess peat material or cutting slits in Jiffy pots to aid root growth.


Seed Starting Tray

Using seed starting trays or seed pots allows you to start the seeds indoors 6 – 8 weeks before the last frost, giving you a head start on the growing season and allowing you to grow more food or have early blooms in your garden.

When sowing the seeds it is best to put about three seeds to ensure that at least one seed will sprout.

If more than one seed sprouts you can gently divide the plants before transplanting them into your garden.

The trays don’t hold a lot of soil, therefore they will need daily watering with plenty of sunlight so the seeds will sprout into seedlings.

Because they are biodegradable they can be planted straight into a garden but some gardeners will remove the cardboard before planting because they feel that it is better for the roots.

If the seedlings are properly watered then the roots will be able to break through cardboard and mature into healthy plants.

Related: How To Start Seeds Indoors? A Comprehensive Guide


Egg Carton

Cardboard is cardboard so if you can repurpose something like an egg carton for starting seeds then why not.

I eat a lot of eggs so when I buy eggs I get five dozen which come in two pallets that hold thirty eggs.

Egg Carton Tray

You can easily cut them into strips, blocks, or single pieces and add a label so you can identify them when you are planting them in your garden.

Cardboard egg cartons and pallets use less material allowing the roots to break through than store-bought starting trays more easily but they are not as deep.


Jiffy Pot

Jiffy pots are best used to start seedlings with a large root system at a young age or to start plants early in the season and transplant them when they have a well-established root system. They are particularly useful for plants that don’t tolerate root disturbance well.

When transplanting them into the garden I like to cut several slits to give the roots an easier time growing from these biodegradable pots. Both seed starting trays and Jiffy pots are excellent options for indoor gardening and plant propagation.


Most gardeners use compost but some prefer to mix in some sand and coconut coir to make sure the roots have no issues getting going. This mixture can improve soil structure and water retention.

No matter the growing medium you choose it needs to have the necessary nutrients your seedling will need which is why compost is used instead of fertilizers.

After filling the trays it is best not to pack the dirt so the roots can easily grow, but you will have to add some soil after several waterings.

Whether you choose seed starting trays, Jiffy pots, or DIY alternatives, these methods can significantly improve your germination rates and give your plants a strong start for a successful garden harvest.

Joel Simon

As a kid, Joel found enjoyment in caring for the many houseplants he grew up with, learning how to transplant them safely, cloning them, and more. At about the age of 10, he wanted to see if he could sprout an orange seed from a store-bought orange and ended up using it as a science experiment in a school project. Throughout the many years of gardening, he has helped many friends and family set up their food and botanical gardens. After years of caring for plants, he was talking with other gardeners and discovering old methods of farming and botanical gardening. Joel has decided to share his knowledge for others to enjoy as he has for many years.

Recent Posts