Why is this rubber seed tray better than the regular plastic seed trays?
This rubber seed tray is a more sustainable and practical option than the traditional plastic seed trays for a number of reasons:
- Reusable and long-lasting – each of the rubber seed trays is made of a robust natural rubber. This means that they will stand the test of time and can be used, year after year. Many of the plastic ones you find in garden centres, although they are cheaper, often crack or break after one or two uses. What does that mean? They get thrown away and new ones are bought year after year. That extra plastic waste isn’t great for the environment (as we all know) and financially, you aren’t much better off as you are spending money year after year. These reusable, rubber trays prevent all of that. Win, win!
- Sustainable and renewable source – the plastic trays are made from disposable plastic that is made using fossil fuels. Again, we are all well versed that this isn’t environmentally friendly. Our rubber version is made from FSC natural rubber. This means it comes from a sustainable and renewable source and from suppliers who preserve the biological diversity of the natural forest. The rubber plantations are also certified not to have replaced natural forests.
- Easy to remove seedlings – as well as being environmentally better than the plastic seed tray, the rubber seed trays are practically better too, which is why we love them so much. Whilst being robust, the rubber is also very flexible. When it comes to transferring your seedlings into the soil, you can just simply pop them out by pushing on the rubber bottom. Think of them like a plant version of the silicon baking trays you can get. They come out easily and the soil retains its shape, keeping the roots intact and making for an easy and stress-free transfer!
How are these seed trays fair trade?
Unlike the plastics industry, which is controlled by a few massive multinationals, natural rubber is an entirely sustainable product, which is grown by small farmers or on plantations. Due to the extremely low current price of natural rubber, a lot of rubber plantings are under threat from conversion to palm oil or beef production. So when you buy these seed trays, you ensure the survival of a valuable, natural resource.
Rubber trees are tapped by small scale farmers or plantation workers, in theory providing an important source of revenue however, at present the price for natural rubber does not even cover the cost of production. But because these come from a supplier who is a member of the Fair Rubber Association, they pay our primary suppliers a fair trade premium of EUR 0.50 kg/DRC (Dry Rubber Content) – at present almost 40% above world market prices (similar to what we do with Operation Wool). This helps to improve the working and living conditions of the primary producers and ensures environmentally friendly, sustainable production.
How do I use this rubber seed tray?
Just like you would use a regular seed tray really! Here are some simple steps:
- Loosely fill your cells with seed compost (no need to wet it first).
- We like to start our seedlings off in our coir seed coins and then transplant them into the seed tray using the Dalefoot wool compost. You can plant your seeds straight in if you like using seed compost.
- If planting seeds straight in, place two to four seeds on the surface of the compost, and gently press the seeds down so they're nestled in nicely. Make sure you refer to the seed packet for the correct depth to plant the seeds. If planting sweet peas, maincrop beans and peas or trees, then we suggest using our rubber root trainers.
- If your seeds are very small, like basil or mustard, you can leave them uncovered, if your seeds are larger or they require darkness to germinate, cover them with a thin layer of seed compost.
- Make sure you label your trays to ensure you know what you’ve planted (we are speaking from experience here!).
- Gently water the trays, with a spray bottle, taking care not to wash out any compost or seeds.
- We then like to place our trays onto a length of water-soaked sheep wool garden felt as it acts as a brilliant capillary matting. The felt absorbs and holds the water. The small holes in the base of each cell in the tray enable the moisture to slowly be reabsorbed back into the compost, ensuring that your plants get a steady supply of moisture rather than soaking and drying. You can then use this in the bottom of larger pots or on the surface of your garden beds as extra support and protection when planting out.
- If you are using a propagator, you can place the cell tray in your propagator, with the lid on. Once you see roots emerging from the holes in the base of the cell your seedlings will be ready for transplanting into larger pots.
What other plastic-free gardening products do you have?
Oh we have lots! In fact, pretty much all our gardening products are natural and plastic-free. We have our natural rubber root coaches and a whole range of wool garden products including felt shillies, wool pellets and garden fleece. We also have lots of jute products like our mulch mats, hanging basket liners and jute roll for larger areas. Have a good gander and see what you could use in your garden.