The Best New Seed-Starting Tools For 2016

It’s time to get your garden started, and we think these new products will make the job easier.

by Jessica Walliser
PHOTO: Jessica Walliser

Late winter is a time when many gardeners are focused on seeds. We’re busy sorting our existing seeds, ordering new ones and preparing our seed-starting equipment for the pending onslaught of potting soil, labels and sprouting seeds.

While many gardeners use the same seed-starting equipment year after year, it’s always exciting when unique products aimed at simplifying the process come onto the market. From grow lights and plastic flats to seedling heat mats and self-watering systems, the nursery industry is constantly updating the seed-starting equipment available to home gardeners.

Even though you may be comfortable using your “old” gear, take a look at these recent additions to the plethora of seed-starting products already on the market—you might find a few products capable of making your gardening life a whole lot easier!

Tabletop Light Plus 72 Cell Ultimate Growing System Plus Heat Mat

If you’re only starting a few flats of seeds, this complete kit may be for you. It includes:

  • a table-top, frame-mounted grow light
  • a seedling heat mat to provide bottom heat for optimum germination
  • one of Burpee’s Ultimate Growing System flats

The flat comes with a watering tray, a cell tray, a self-watering mat, pellets of growing medium and a clear cover. It even comes with its own plant tags and fertilizer.

Price: $184.95

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Wonder Soil Shake, Water and Plant with Worm Castings

When soaked in water, these 1/2-inch compressed pellets expand into small cylinders of seed-starting potting mix, enriched with worm castings. A 1¼-pound container of pellets expands into 10 pounds of potting mix. After expansion, each pellet fits neatly into a nursery flat’s cell compartment, making messy bags of potting soil for seed-starting a thing of the past.

Price: $9.99

Super Safe Fan

super safe fan

Having good air circulation around growing seedlings is key to preventing damping off and other fungal diseases during seed-starting time. This quiet electric fan has soft blades and doesn’t need a protective guard, increasing the air flow and providing consistent and even air movement. The fan has two speeds and can be placed on a counter or wall-mounted from its base.

Price: $39.95

Jump-start Windowsill Heat Mat

heat mat

For gardeners who start seeds on the limited space of a windowsill, instead of under grow lights, this slender heat mat will prove very useful. Instead of being the size of a standard nursery flat, this heat mat is only three inches wide and twenty inches long, making it perfect for windowsills and other narrow spaces. Like other seed-starting heat mats, the Jump-start raises the soil temperature of any containers sitting on it 10 to 20 degrees above the ambient room temperature, speeding germination and root growth.

Price: $28.95

Garden Time Planner App

Garden Time Planner

Although it’s not a tangible piece of seed-starting equipment, Burpee’s newest app can certainly help with the task. The Garden Time Planner app is intended to help gardeners manage sowing, transplanting and harvesting dates. If you aren’t sure when to start your seeds, both indoors and out, you might find this app very helpful. You can also link to how-to videos and weather updates, and create your own to-do lists.

Price: Free on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

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