Seedling vs. Hydroponic trays
As a general rule, conventional growing and sales trays are almost alway a uniform size of 11” X 21.37” with just over a 2” depth. These trays also have to drain well and most styles come with pre-drilled drainage holes.
Conventional greenhousing also uses a consistent growing medium, overall, so these trays would be designed for that weight capacity.
In hydroponics the size and style depends a lot on what type of hydroponic garden you’re engaged in. If it’s deep water culture then you’re not going with a tray at all but a five gallon bucket.
Because of all these variables there isn’t just a standardized size grow tray a grower can purchase.
The growing medium also varies because one grower may use a lighter material like perlite and the next prefers the much heavier river rock. All this has to be considered when you’re selecting grow trays for any specific use.
This in mind, on average a hydroponic grow tray is deeper which makes sense considering a grower doesn’t need the nutrient solution sloshing all over the grow room. A typical depth would be right around 6” for this reason.
Hydroponic gardens also don’t require drainage but do need the nutrient solution to be recirculated and these trays are designed to allow maximum flowage.
A seedling or propagation tray is designed specifically for just this purpose in mind. Because these are temporary use trays, meaning, they are used only for seedling or propagation seedling trays are deep trays.
Most often these are a non-cell tray that are no more than 2” deep on average. seedling trays are designed for easy spread of seed with an intended use of germination and preliminary root growth.
seedling trays are not designed for growing plants to maturity, but rather provide seedlings with a good start to be later transplanted as the plants begin to develop.
These are deep trays that normally measure 5” to 6” deep and are intended for hydroponic growing. Hydroponic trays are used for mass-planting crops such as lettuce, spinach or kale which don’t mind being a little crowded.
Hydroponic trays are not generally used for crops that require individual space such as tomatoes or related crops.
Growing stands vary greatly and are all designed for a specific use
Here’s a topic that gets a little sticky.
There are literally hundreds of stand designs and styles to choose from and it would be difficult, if not impossible to try to discuss the pros and cons of all of them. This can be narrowed down significantly when you consider that grow tray stands come in two styles.
All tray stands are subcategories of these two basic concepts.
A modern grower most often utilizes both styles.
Vertical stands are great space savers for seedling development, propagation stations and for cloning machine cultivation. Conventional horizontal stands are used for growing out stock as the plants mature, large plants or for display purposes.
This is true of traditional and hydroponic growers alike.
Given the great diversity of tray stands on the market a grower can carefully lay out their growing facilities to maximize efficiency and growing space.
There are exceptions to this, however. A person engaged in strictly vertical farming has little use for a horizontal stand except for propagation purposes. Almost all vertical stand systems are stackable units ranging from three to usually five tray shelves.
Stackable units are all set up for the installation of growing lights or are sold complete with a growing light setup.
Tray stands can also be broken down into further classifications depending on the intended use.
- Hydroponic grow stands
- Conventional cultivation
About all that needs to be kept in mind here is that remember that with propagation you’re going to be doing a lot of bending. A person will get pretty sore fairly quickly bending down to a propagation stand that is too low.
It is a good idea to keep these stands at waist height.
Horizontal stands come in many different styles all based on separate factors.
Selecting the right horizontal stand is largely a matter of personal preference, the type of hydroponic growing you’re engaged with or propagation/cultivation vs. retail display.
For this reason, it is difficult for us recommend one style over another because there really isn’t one type of stand that is the industry ideal.
How to Build the Ebb & Flow Complete System
Ebb and flow is a flood and drain technique of hydroponic growing which is more advanced than the deep water culture method and will cost somewhat more for a complete system.
The nice part is that this is a starter pack that you can easily build up from.
Here’s what you get with a complete package from Current Under Current.
- 55 Gallon reservoir
- 12 – Four-gallon sites
- 12 – Three-gallon 360-degree mesh aeration inserts
- 1 – controller
- 2 – Maxi Jet 1200 pumps
For the approximately the $600.00 you can expect to pay for this complete system it has everything you need except the grow lights to get you up and running well on your way to becoming a professional hydroponic grower.