“ Brand: Wilkinsons „
I have been doing gardening properly now for around 3 years and have an abundance of seed trays which I turn to at the start of every spring to start my seeds off. One of the first purchases I made was for some Wilkinson's seed trays and now, 3 years on, my seed tray pile no longer includes these trays because they have fallen apart.
Price - they are reasonable working out at around 40p each for a pack of 3 (£1.25 for 3). Wilkinsons also sell individual trays made by a company called "Stewart" (They manufacture and supply quite a good range of entry level priced pots and garden accessories). These are £1.15 each, so with the Wilko trays you are getting 3 for the price of 1 high quality tray.
Quality - the plastic is quite flimsy and brittle. I use seed trays from the end of winter (to start off spring crops indoors with propogator lids) all the way through the start of summer (for winter growing crops) and grow things in a greenhouse. The greenhouse has very little space and as things grow it gets a bit of a nightmare! You can't move for the plants everywhere and in this country we tend to be getting frosts all the way up to June so you can't risk putting everything out to clear the space. That means I am finding myself having to swtich around all the pots, trays and plants quite often to make use of the space.
My first year of using these trays i was moving them around quite often and when you pick one up, the weight of the compost inside can tend to make the tray bend wherever you aren't holding it causing it to split or weaken in certain areas.
Over the winter I also store my trays in a shed and when I came back to these ones the following spring, they had actually disentegrated! It was cold but I wouldn't expect that to happen.
The higher quality trays I bought at a similar time are still going strong now and if wiped down could pass for brand new.
The trays have the usual drainage holes in the bottom to allow water to escape (and roots to start poking through). They also fit the propogation lids which are a must have product in the UK to prevent seeds being attacked by frost which can even penetrate a greenhouse or polytunnel in this country.
Top tips from me - a lot of seed packets tell you to put seeds in a tray then a clear polythene bag - dont do this, use the lids! The lids are easier to use and can be reused again and again and also provide some height to allow seedlings to emerge beyond the height of the seed tray top.
If you are on a tight budget and space is an issue, you can use these trays to grow salad crops like Spinach and Lettuce all throughout the summer by sowing the seeds into the old previously used compost. You can keep them in there without having to transplant them at all, just snip the leaves when ready as you need them.
Wilko tends to have 50% off then 75% off its gardening range around mid-June through to July to clear through the stock that is no longer needed. You can pick these and many other things up as bargains if you wait and shop around ready for next years gardening! (Last year I got about £40 worth of seed packets for £12)
Overall - Buy these trays if you are starting out gardening for the first time and you are unsure if you will like it or not, that way you haven't wasted too much money on the expensive trays. If you are really into gardening and regularly plant seeds each year, then please buy something more robust that will last for 10+ years as you may end up throwing your money away in the long run.
I love browsing in Wilkinson's for gardening accessories and something comes home with me far too often. I find them a great source of gardening basics such as the seed trays that I am reviewing today. A pack of 3 cost just £1.25 which is half what they cost at my admittedly expensive local garden centre. I used to hesitate before buying cheap garden supplies but no longer. That's not to say that these are perfect though, as I will explain below..
I am reviewing Wilko's standard seed tray pack - they also do a premium version that is supposed to be "heavy duty". The more basic ones are 37cm long by 24cm wide and 6cm deep - standard sized in other words. This is handy as I have a variety of seed tray and propagator lids from different brands and it is useful to know that I can use them interchangeably. The Wilko value propagator lids fits snugly on these which considering the latter cost £1 each, makes a very cheap basic propagator when used with the seed tray either on it's own or with a gravel tray base. I use the seperate lids as an alternative to plastic bag coverings on freshly sown seed, helping to keep the compost moist and slugs out.
The trays have drainage holes in the base, as you would expect and I am perfectly satisfied with how many there are. The main difference between these and the so called premium trays I use in the garden I work in is the latter have a more deeply ridged bottom allowing for a double layer of drainage holes. I don't notice much benefit to these myself, if you are using a free draining seed compost anyway. I also think a slightly smoother base actually has the advantage of providing less hiding places for slugs. Those little devils may still lurk under the lip of the trays but I do think the lip makes handling the trays easier - especially when they need to be unstacked. As you can tell from that, they will nest together which is a handy space saver in a too full greenhouse.
The slight downside to these is the fact they feel thinner and less robust than some of their more expensive counterparts. I have been using some of the trays for 2 growing seasons now and there have been some losses due to splitting. I am used to picking up sturdy trays with one hand at work but if I attempt that with a Wilko tray full of compost, it bends precariously and I am likely to suffer some plant casualties. If you remember to pick them up carefully with two hands they are fine but if I am going to carry them more than a little way I sit them in a gravel tray or propagator base for added security. I move my trays around a lot as I have to take plants with me to and from work, to my allotment and my parent's garden and greenhouse at different stages of their lives. If you use the seed trays just in a greenhouse I suspect they will last you longer.
Being made of plastic they are easily kept clean. This is important for me as I tend to use each tray again as soon as the seeds have been potted on and I do try to do the right thing and clean the trays between uses to prevent the potential spread of disease or pests. I have some wooden traditional trays which look lovely but they are far less convenient in this respect. If black plastic is however too boring to you, you can also buy these in a pale green colour for the same price.
Wilkinson also do a heavy duty see tray set which cost £2.50 for 3 and I have a few sets of those as well. I do think they are more robust but whether they are worth twice as much I am not sure as they could still be stronger in my opinion. I would still be inclined to opt for the cheaper ones on balance. I would definitely recommend those trays to any seed sowers, especially if you are going to need a lot as it is a good way of keeping costs down. They could be stronger but the price reflects that. I have after all managed to use the majority for a second growing season and I would be surprised if most don't make it to a third if I am not too rough with them! They are obviously only available from Wilkinson's whether on store or online but I do think they compare favourably with other own brand seed trays such as the Sainsbury's and Homebase ones which usually cost a bit more.