1. Clear plastic salad containers.
I start all of my seeds (except for the very reliable and easy to sow things like stock and grasses), in these containers. The lids keep the moisture in for germinating, I usually broadcast my seeds, which saves times instead of placing individual seeds in each cell of a tray.
When it comes to germinating on heat mats (see below), I can germinate so many more seeds than if I sowed in the large cell trays (10″x20″).
I let them grow, and when it’s time I bump them up into cell trays, leaving me with full cell trays and no gaps from spotty germination I would have otherwise encountered from sowing in a cell tray.
2. Large bread bowl for mixing potting soil.
I had previously been using a 2.5gal pail, and while it worked, upgrading to a very large bread bowl is a big improvement. The bread bowl I use is from an industrial kitchen supply store.
3. Pump sprayer
This thing beats the heck out of a regular spray bottle- which I used my first season. I use it when seeds are first germinating and are too small to water with a narrow spout watering jug. I can adjust the nozzle to get that fine spray/mist I need for tiny seedlings. I found this one at my local hardware store for $9 I think?
4. Livestock feed scoop
This tool has really sped up the process of scooping potting medium into the bread bowl when I am filling trays. Before I was using my hands or an awkward container to dig out dry potting mix, and this thing is perfect. I bought this at Early’s for $7.
5. Heat Mat
Bottom heat can really speed up the germination process, and some seeds actually require that extra warmth before they will germinate. I have 2, 10×20″ mats, and 2 of the 20″x20″ mats, which is perfect when paired with my salad containers. The seedlings only need to stay on the mat until they are germinated, and should be moved off to prevent them from frying.
6. Sunblaster T5 4′ Combo Growlights
These are a more expensive option than setting up shop lights with a warm and cool fluorescent bulb, but I find their ease of use is worth it. They have a slim profile, and don’t take up a lot of shelf room (height), which is important when plants start to get tall. The height is easy to adjust with small chain and s-hooks. And they don’t give off a lot of heat, which can be hard on young seedlings. I have bought all my lights from Early’s for $48.