Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Multi-Sow Seeds! Save Room!


Tray full of multi-sown seedlings
Tray of Multi-Sown Seedlings

Save Room Under Grow Lights!

Multi-Sow Seeds!

What's multi-sowing and why should you be doing it?

Multi-sowing refers to sowing several seeds, usually four to ten seeds depending on what you're growing, in the same seed-starting cell and allowing them to mature into small clumps. Then, rather than thinning them or planting them out one plant per space,  the entire clump is planted together.


Advantages to Multi-Sowing


  • Saves Money on Seeds

Have you noticed the price of seeds lately?  They've at least doubled in the last year, and there's no reason to believe prices will soon be coming back down.

The old way of sowing two or three seeds per cell and only using the hardiest seedling and snipping off the other smaller ones is a waste of good, and now expensive, seed.  

  • Saves Space Under Indoor Grow Lights

  • Multi-sowing seeds saves valuable planting "real estate" under your grow lights.

Grow Light Seeding Starting Station

My homemade grow light station holds 12 full-size trays.  I multi-sow nearly all of the seeds that I sow indoors, except for the very large or fast-growing flowers or vegetables.

Seed Tray with Multi-Sown Seedlings
Tray of Multi-Sown Seedlings

Looking at the above picture of one of my seed trays, it's easy to imagine just how many seedlings you can get in 12 trays under one seed-starting setup like mine.

Seed Starting Trays
Click to View


See the end of this article for information about my seed starting setup


Saves Space in the Garden

  • Because seeds can vary in both their viability and germination rate, not every seed you sow will germinate.  Sowing several seeds in one "cell" will hedge your bets that you'll get as many starts as you wanted, probably more!

  • And when you plant out the multi-sown seedlings in their clump right in the garden, you're saving a lot of garden space, not to mention you can vastly increase your harvest.

Seed Tray with Multi Sown Onion Seedlings
Seed Tray with Multi-Sown Onion Seedlings

Here's an example of how you can save a lot of space in your garden.  Let's talk about  the onions above.  

If you sow 6-7 onion seeds per cell and then plant that cell as a bunch in your garden instead of separating each seedling, you could later harvest the outer onion plants as spring onions, allowing the other four or five onion plants to grow on to full size.  

Saves on Seed-Starting Medium

The cost of compost, potting soil and the like has also been increasing steadily.  When you multi-sow your seeds in the same cells, you're saving money on whatever starting medium you use.

Basil Seedlings Multi-Sown and Easily Separated
Basil Seedlings Multi-Sown and Easily Separated

Separating the Seedling Clumps

If you decide you'd rather plant out certain seedlings separately, it's very easy to separate those little clumps like in the above basil seedlings.  You could just gently break the clumps in half to plant, or plant each seedling separately.   You're still saving lots of space indoors.

Heat Mat for Seed Starting
Seed Starting Heat Mat
Click to View

A seed starting heat mat really does help with the germination of heat-loving plants like onions and peppers.

My Homemade Multi-Sowing Setup

I've seen the price of some of those seed starting setups.  Although my setup wasn't exactly cheap, it's much less than a lot of those that are sold ready to use, and I've used mine for several seasons.

Shelving perfect for a Seed Starting Setup
Click to View

A large plastic shelf like the one above is perfect for constructing a seed starting setup.

The lights I use are basic, cheap - and I mean the cheapest -- shop lights I could find.  I know some people say you have to have Agrobrite or LED specialty grow lights to grow healthy seedlings indoors, but they can cost from $50 to over $100! 

I have found that the cheapest shop lights I can find do the job well, as long as you keep the seedlings close to the lights.  I've had great success for several years.

I've attached the lights with zip ties as pictured.

The only real disadvantage I see in doing it this way is that the lights here do not move up and down as the seedlings grow taller.

And since it's paramount that seedlings stay within an inch of the lights, and since the lights don't move, I must move the trays up or down manually.  I don't find that a big deal.  Some people might.

I just use some big thick styrofoam blocks under the trays.  If you look closely above in the full setup picture, you can see them.

Seed Trays with Individual Cells
Click to View

I can fit 12 full-size seedling trays on this setup, and since I multi-sow most of the plants that I grow, the amount of starts that I can grow is plenty for my large garden.

Seed Nursery Trays
Seed Trays
Click to View

You could also just seed start in the trays, but I prefer the tidiness of the individual cells.  And I use them year after year.  I also prefer the cell trays and a tray like above at the bottom so I can bottom water all the seedlings which saves lots of time when you're growing a lot.


So what are you waiting for?  If you haven't started to grow your own food, start now!  And while you're at it, give multi-sowing a try.  Save space and grow more food!

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