While I normally don’t buy the tray setups sold in late winter/early spring at garden centers, this year we picked up a number of Jiffy products to try out. The tray system comes with a tray (the base), a clear plastic lid that acts as a mini greenhouse, and peat pellets that expand to form natural “pots” for your seeds. The larger setups also include an inner tray, to hold the pellets. Some of the kits also included tag markers and 3 of them even came with liquid plant feed.
We checked out a number of garden centers, and for in person buying Wal-Mart was the best stocked, with all the choices, including some of the refills.
They have worked well to teach the boys more about seeds (science) and the outdoors, as part of their homeschooling. I was wandering through a store the other week when it occurred to me this would be a great project for the boys and that was what started the whole review.
For a small scale garden (a couple small raised beds) I can see how these trays work well. No mess, no fussing around. You don’t have to buy anything extra for them. After years of large scale planting of seeds, it’s easy to overlook this. Not everyone wants to or needs 1000’s of 4″ pots, and 1022 trays, and large quantities of custom blended potting mix. Most people don’t have the space for this, nor the need. So I remembered…maybe there is a place for systems like Jiffy, for when 6 tomato plants is plenty, rather then needing 100 of a plant variety.
First off: No need to mix up potting soil and fill cups and get them ready. There was no mess involved. All I needed was water to soak the pellets. It was easy. Even the boys could do it. And that is something interesting. I followed the directions to use warm water the first 2 trays, then I deviated outside and used ice cold water in 5 gallon buckets, with a small watering can. It worked just fine with cold water, yes it took longer, but to make up for it, I put the clear lids on, and it heated up on its own, absorbing the water right up. The key is to cover the pellets with water and check back, adding more until all the pellets are fully hydrated. Expect the largest pellet size to take 10 to 15 minutes, with the smaller ones rehydrating a lot faster.
How do you know which to buy? It depends on your seeds of choice. For flowers and herbs, the smaller pellet size of say 36MM works great. For bigger seeds, such as green beans, peas, and so on, use the larger size pellets. They will need more grow space for their roots. Tomatoes do best in the largest, unless you plan on upsizing into a larger pot (I do this for my plants I sell).
The sizes we picked up:
The small 36MM 12 peat pellets greenhouse kit fits on deep windowsills, and is a great size for children to use, for homeschool projects. We have a couple of them lining the dining room window, getting the warm afternoon sun.
The 16 Peat Pellet Greenhouse Kit, in 50 MM size. These work well for tomatoes, as noted. They are large pellets.
The 25 Peat Pellet Starter Greenhouse, in 42MM size. I planted tomatoes in these as well. Because why not?
The 36 Peat Pellet Greenhouse Kit, in 50 MM size. With their large size this kit would be great for beans and corn, both of which don’t like transplanting.
The 72 Peat Pellet Greenhouse, in 36MM size. I had forgotten to plant Oregon Spring tomatoes, one I usually grow a lot of, for both sale and planting here. 72 plants is crazy numbers I know. For most people. But if I want a couple hundred jars of salsa canned this coming summer, you grow a lot of plants.
All the little greenhouses. The lids sit on top, and they do keep the moisture in. I was checking the seeds we started for the boys and we had germination within 4 days for the first flowers.
Most of the kits had this on the back, where it has a cut out that you can note what seeds you planted in each pellet.
Rehydrated, seeded and ready to be tucked away to grow under cover (in one of the pop up greenhouses). And it self waters itself with condensation, meaning less checking for water needed.
Having invested into the trays, I will continue to reuse them, and I will pick up pellet refills to use. Gimmicky? Sure. But they do work, so I stand corrected on overlooking them before.