Free Seed Starting Trays

snuffyI will make a confession here: free is my favorite price.

My farming dream includes my abundant garden where I grow organic heirloom vegetables.  I would grow all these vegetables from seed, seed that I have collected myself.  Of course right now this is just a dream, as I have failed and failed and failed with my garden.  I hope and pray that this year will be the year I will figure it all out.

One big key piece of the dream is to cultivate vegetable starter plants from seed.  There are basically three costly inputs to starting your own vegetable starter plants: seed, soil and seed starting trays.  (Of course there is water and sunshine, too, but I am referring to monetary input costs.)  Believe it or not, the most expensive “ingredient” is the seed starting tray.  Those seed starting trays will cost $1.00 or $2.00 each.

I am now going to share with you thee secret method to getting free seed starting trays…

1.  Go to the garden center section of a big box store, maybe Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc.  Make sure it’s at the peak of the season.

2. Do the work for the garden center employees.  Consolidate trays of flower and vegetable starter plants.  You want to look for “holes” in the display trays and condense the trays to fill up some and empty others. Be mindful and respectful of the job that the employees have to do: make sure you only combine trays of the same type and price point and variety.  You are doing them a favor.  They are doing you a favor.

3. Ask permission of an employee to take the trays home.

stickynote2It’s that simple, really.

Here are a few other things to be aware of:
I have never received a “no”. Ever.
Some holder trays are better for seed starting than others.  It really just depends on the style used and there are probably hundreds of variables.
The big box stores throw these trays out anyway.  The trays do not have an inventory.  The grower purchases these trays by the truckload, so their cost for the trays is nominal.  They do not reuse these.
The “experts” will tell you to disinfect the trays with a solution of 10% bleach to kill any diseases present.
There’s probably a chemical residue on the trays because I can guarantee you that that grower bathed these starter plants in an assortment of chemical ick.
Isn’t it better to repurpose these trays rather than have them end up in a landfill?

You may also be wondering how I came up with my “system” for obtaining free seed starting trays… Once upon a time in Jersey a very long time ago, I used to manage garden centers.  I was Assistant Manager (and even Acting Store Manager briefly) of the now defunct Frank’s Nursery and Crafts.  I also ran the Garden Shop and Patio departments of a K-mart for an entire season.   I observed these trays being thrown out.  I threw them out myself as I consolidated the trays or delegated consolidating.  I managed the whole process of selling thousands of dollars worth of starter plants daily, ordering directly from the grower.  (Perhaps I should add that running garden centers was really the precursor to me becoming a farmer.  Perhaps that is a story I’ll share with you in the future.)

And of course, just because my kids are cute, I’m going to illustrate this….

Step One… Arrive at a Big Box Garden Center.

These "holes" are  what you want to look for...

Step two… These “holes” are what you want to look for… start consolidating here…

Again... look for "holes" in the display trays and then work on consolidating them.

Again… look for “holes” in the display trays and then work on consolidating them.

This is not a bad amount for April.  The garden center business peaks in May.

This is not a bad amount for April. The garden center business peaks in May.                       Step three…. Make sure you ask permission from store personnel before you take them home.

 

These are seed starting trays from two years ago.  My seeds never grew, but it wasn't because of the trays.

These are seed starting trays from two years ago. My seeds never grew, but it wasn’t because of the trays.

(Linked to The Barn Hop.)


Posted in Being a Good Environmental Stewards, Feeling Nostalgic, Laura's Cheapskate Secrets, The Garden and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

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