Seed starting tools we use for seed germination and seedlings

A selection of our seed starting tools on a sunny day in mid-April.
Some of our seed starting tools waiting on the sidelines (17 April 2023)

Starting herbs and vegetables from seeds does not have to be complicated. In the simplest form, you need seeds, soil, a container, and water. And most people have come in contact with this simple and natural process.

So why not keep it simple, you may ask?

As I see it, it comes down to expected results, available space, and how fun you want it to be.

I can give you 3 reasons why I invest in proper tools.

1. A more plentiful harvest:

Adopting a few helpful tools will make your seed-starting process more efficient – and vastly more enjoyable.
When you grow herbs and vegetables for consumption, you want to get the most from every seed you plant. And this is where using the proper tools and equipment can help.

2. Maximizing available space:

As we grow more plants – because we always do – we realize that space becomes a factor.
You may live in an apartment or, like me, have a family who fails to see the charm of keeping seed starter trays and seedlings scattered all over the house. Proper tools and equipment help get you organized.

3. Making gardening fun and easy

Using the appropriate tools, equipment, and sometimes gadgets makes gardening a lot easier. Gone are the mess and the constant use of kitchen knives and other utensils having to double as makeshift gardening tools. Over the years, I have learned to go for quality as it will last several seasons, and it does save you money – often already year 2.

Seed starting & germination tools we cover:

  1. Seed starting trays
  2. Nursery pots
  3. Deep nursery pots for seedlings
  4. Repotting mat to keep things tidy
  5. Heat mats
  6. Full spectrum grow lights (3 options to fit most budgets)

Growing your own food is a fun and rewarding hobby and helps you save money in the long run. We have found that using the tools, equipment, and gadgets we list below helps us achieve better results while staying organized.

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1. Seed starting trays

Ensure you get seed starting trays that will last you more than one season. It is not only about cost; we should also do our part by purchasing durable goods that can survive the handling associated with seed starting.

Avoid the flimsy, cheap, attractive-looking options that become fragile and break over time. And yes, I have bought more cheap seed starting trays than I would like to admit over the years.

Buying a seed starting tray with a heat mat is a good idea. But from my experience, the seed trays with built-in grow lights deliver low-intensity light, and you are better off buying a separate lighting fixture.

Built to last more than one season

Why I like them:

  • Thicker BPA-Free plastic makes it more durable
  • Adjustable vents in the dome
  • Transparent cells with drain holes
  • It can be used with a heat mat & grow lights

Things to consider:

  • You can find cheaper one-season alternatives
Check price on Amazon Starter kit with heat mat

Durable Seed Starting Trays (4 Pack, 160 Cells)

This seed starting kit ticks all the right boxes, starting with a sturdier design that will last many seasons.

Transparent cells are a fun feature as they help monitor root development.

Also good that there are adjustable vents in the dome and that the kit can be used with a heart mat and grow lights.

Trust me; you will not regret buying a sturdy plant germination tray built to last.

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2. Nursery pots

Ideal for pot-ups and transplanting for both space management and plant health. Again, go with a sturdier plastic and ensure it is made from recycled, food-safe, and UV-resistant plastic.

Recycled plastic is an environmentally sound choice when you buy durable products that will last you for many more seasons.

Nursery pots for seeds, seedlings, and pot-ups

Why I like them:

  • BPA Free Plastic
  • UV-Resistant
  • Non-toxic and food-safe
  • Lightweight, washable, and reusable

Things to consider:

  • Plastic is not a sustainable resource
Check price on Amazon How I use mine for tomato seedlings

Plastic Red/Black Nursery Pots – 100 Pack 4″/10cm

100 nursery pots may seem excessive, but you will most likely soon find a good use for them.

Great for seed-starting, transplants, cuttings, and pot-ups.

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3. Deep nursery pots for seedlings

Tomato seedlings should be transplanted deep to let new roots develop along the stem. And for this task it is really helpful to have deep nursery pots at hand.

I like the soft but durable alternatives like the pots below, but I know that some gardeners feel that soft equals poor quality. I tend to disagree, and for me, these are a good option at a fair price.

Perfect for tomato seedlings

Why I like them:

  • Perfect for transplanting tomato seedlings deeper
  • Drain holes in the bottom and on the side of the bottom
  • Soft for easy storage

Things to consider:

  • Not for seedlings replanted at the same soil level
  • Soft plastic can put some off
Check price on Amazon Tomato growing guide

Deep seedling nursery pots (40)

Deep seedling nursery pots are perfect for seedlings that should be planted deep, like tomatoes.

The pots are 7.8″ inches / 20 cm deep and suitable for fruits and vegetables.

Now, these pots are sturdy but soft in so much that they can be folded when empty.

Still, they are solid and rigid when filled with soil.

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4. Repotting mat to keep things tidy

If you also work indoors for large parts of the year, this repotting mat can help keep things neat and tidy.

And for the price, it is hard to make one cheaper yourself.

Finding space to work can be challenging when we need to report plants or seedlings indoors. Covering kitchen tables with cloths or cardboard works, but as you know, it still gets messy.

Having a repotting mat is a true lifesaver; if you ask me, bigger is better.

Keeping everything neat and tidy

Why I like them:

  • Keeps soil and mess confined
  • Waterproof, stain-resistant, and reusable
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Three different sizes

Things to consider:

  • Nice, but not necessary
Check price on Amazon Seed starting guide

Repotting mat for indoor use

Repotting is a messy business; this repotting mat turns every surface or table in your home into a repotting surface.

Choose the size mat that fits you best, and who does not love a Lifetime Warranty?

Could you use any old cloth or board instead? Of course, but it is a really nice luxury for those quick jobs during seed-starter and pot-up season.

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5. Heat mats

You do not need a heat mat to start plants from seeds. But it is an affordable “luxury” when starting, for example, hot peppers and other plants that are slow to germinate. Heat mats with thermostats are even handier as they give you more control.

But again, not necessary, but for many of us an affordable luxury to be used for those plants we love the most.

Ideal for starting peppers from seed

Why I like them:

  • It helps maintain the sweet spot temperature for germination
  • Durable, built to last
  • Good size and fits most seed trays

Things to consider:

  • This model has no thermostat (see alternative)
Check price on Amazon Heat mat with digital thermostat

Waterproof Heat Mat (20″ x 20.75″)

For successful germination, you want to maintain a constant soil temperature of 68-86℉ (20-30℃). And this heat mat can help you find that constant temperature.

Great for all seeds but especially for hot pepper like Scotch Bonnet, Bhut Jolokia, and Habaneros.

The alternative model with a thermostat is a bit more expensive but hard to resist when you enter “germination mode.”

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6. Full spectrum grow lights (3 options to fit most budgets)

Grow lights are great, and anyone who says otherwise is not being entirely truthful. But whether they are indispensable is another question.

If you live in a climate with full sun year-round, your window sill will do an excellent job for you. But for me, growing year-round in a four-season climate and starting seeds indoors – grow lights are necessary.

If you are not convinced, keep doing what you are doing, or try one of the many entry-level grow lights available at a reasonable price. Below you can find three options at different price points.

Below, you will find 3 great options to fit most budgets and levels of ambition.

Starter model grow light

Why I like them:

  • Great way to start at a reasonable cost
  • Easy to use
  • 9 levels of brightness
  • Built-in timer function (3 settings)
  • Adjustable (360 degrees)

Things to consider:

  • You will need more lights – trust me
Check price on Amazon About full spectrum grow lights

Adjustable LED Grow Light

Great starter model for all you home gardeners who are not yet convinced that grow lights are that important.

It clips on nicely to almost any board or countertop.

Full spectrum light, fully adjustable, and a timer function make it a good alternative.

I use the four-arm model for my Microgreens.

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For keen home gardeners

Why I like them:

  • Stand is easy to assemble and adjust
  • Full spectrum grow light
  • Energy-efficient lights

Things to consider:

  • Long-lasting LED lights. but cannot be replaced
  • No timer function
Check price on Amazon About full spectrum grow lights

Full Spectrum Grow Light with Stand

Full spectrum LED grow light with stand. Easy to assemble and adjust as the seedlings grow.

It’s not the sturdiest of stands, but it works and stays put without any problems.

Stand will go all the way down and can be used for seed germination, seedlings, and plants.

Especially good if you do not have a plan for mounting a stand-alone light panel.

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Professional Grade Grow Light Station

Why I like them:

  • Professional grade solution
  • 6 x T8 Grow Lights!
  • Shelves are adjustable in 1-inch increments
  • Mobile design with wheels

Things to consider:

  • A timer function would be nice
Check price on Amazon Check price on Amazon

3-Shelf Metal Plant Stand with Six T8 Grow Lights

This setup is a professional-grade home gardening setup with six T8 grow lights and 3 shelves for germination trays, seedlings, pots, and plants.

Easy, no tools required assembly, and on the whole, a really good alternative.

I am only missing a timer for a perfect score.

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