Let's Build Some Seedling Flats!

Hi, Happy New Year! As usual, I've waited many ages to update here, but I have decided in lieu of my usual waxing prosaic about farm life, how about a TUTORIAL? I make stuff all the time, and I want you to, too.

When you have a farm, you find yourself getting weird about waste. I hate wasting things, especially materials. I also am on a bit of a personal vendetta against plastics. Not only are they packed full of endocrine disrupting chemicals that wreck our bodies, they are made of nasty petroleum products, they are forming trash islands in the ocean, and if you need more reasons than that, I assure you I can find them. Conventional farmers produce a lot of plastic waste, and I think small scale farmers & home-scale gardeners can buck this trend.

I first saw a wooden seed starting flat years ago in John Jeavon's "How to Grow More Vegetables", a book on biointensive gardening that I cannot recommend enough. This is what I saw there:

Then, last year I came across this brilliant blog that instructed how to make these wonderful things.

So, yesterday I decided to tackle it myself, using some scrap produced last week.

Here are the tools I used:

  • Impact Driver (star head driver)
  • Cordless Drill (1/8 drill bit)
  • #8 1.5" star head Decking Screws
  • Circular Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Carpenter's Square
  • Measuring Tape
  • Marker

And the materials I used:

Just a bunch of cutoff ends of 2x4s and 2x6s

First, I ripped all the boards on the table saw along their width, to make them 1x4s and 1x2s (for the slats)

Step 2: I cut them down to specific lengths, matching long and short pairs as I went along. I wasn't very scientific about this, mainly just trying to preserve as much length as possible, rather than cutting everything down to pre-specified lengths.

Step 3: I paired up long & short pairs, then pre-drilled holes for the screws, and screwed them together


Step 4: I cut the slats to the fit the width of the various box frames, then laid them across the bottoms & drilled pilot holes for screws.

Then I found a way more efficient way to do this: I used a small nail gun to attach the slats. I'll keep you posted way on down the line (I hope) about how the screws vs nails hold up.

I also made a few boxes where I cut the slats to the inside diameter of the box, and nested them inside and then nailed them with the gun from the sides.

See the difference?

And that's it! You can get all cute and make them nest into one another...

Or just make 'em rough and dirty! I also thought of a perfect perfect material that doesn't require a table saw- Old cedar fencing! it would be the absolute best, is already the right width, is insect and rot resistant and is usually FREE.

Good luck with yours!