Seed Starting Peat Pellets -vs- Cells And Trays

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Peat Pellets -vs- Seed Cells

Over the past few years, seed starting peat pellets have become very popular. I’ve used these seed starting peat pellets in the past with mixed results. Normally I prefer to use traditional seed starting flats with plastic cells and trays. Some people really love the seed starting peat pellets, and there are definitely advantages of using them. So I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of using seed starting peat pellets vs using seed starting cells and trays.

Seed Starting Peat Pellets

Seed Starting Peat Pellets

Seed Starting Peat Pellets -vs- Cells And Trays

When I decided to try using the seed starting peat pellets, the first thing that jumped out at me right away was the cost. These seed starting peat pellets are not as economical when compared to a large bag of seed starting dirt and reusable plastic flats (although if you’re just starting out, it will be more expensive to buy the seed starting flats – but then you can reuse them year after year). But you really have to weigh all the pros and cons, not just the cost… and one of the biggest pros for seed starting peat pellets is convenience. Ok, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, so let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the pros and cons for each of these two seed starting methods.

Seed Starting Peat Pellets In Tray

Seed Starting Peat Pellets In Tray

Seed Starting Peat Pellets

What I like (pros):

  • Fun to watch the compressed peat pellets expand when you add water (yes, I’m like a little kid!)
  • Easy start up (you don’t have to fill cells with dirt, just put the peat pellets in the tray, add water and watch them expand)
  • Less work since you only have to clean and disinfect the flat tray, and not all of those plastic cells
  • Less mess since you don’t have to fill cells with loose dirt (which is impossible not to spill, at least for messy me)

What I don’t like (cons):

  • Not as economical
  • The seed starting peat pellets are held together by a mesh on the outside, which doesn’t seem to break down in the garden. The first time I used these, I was finding the mesh throughout the garden for several years after.
  • Seed starting peat pellets dry out faster than the dirt in plastic cells
  • The hole in the top is too small for large seeds (but can be opened up easy enough)
  • Harder to tag if you have multiple types of seeds in one flat, since there’s nowhere to stick the plant marker
Filling Seed Starting Cells With Dirt

Filling Seed Starting Cells With Dirt

Seed Starting Cells And Trays

What I like (pros):

  • Reusable, just add seed starting dirt (or I can use my own DIY seed starting mix)
  • Economical because you can reuse them year after year
  • Easy to add a tag to small groupings of different types of seeds

What I don’t like (cons):

There are two main things that keep me from switching to using the peat pellets for all of my seed starting. One is cost, and the other is the mesh outside that won’t decompose. Neither of these are huge deal breakers for me though (the mesh outside of the seed starting peat pellets is actually pretty easy to peel it off before you plant the seedlings into the garden), and I will continue to use a mix of both methods (seed starting peat pellets are a must for seedlings that hate to be transplanted). But, I do prefer the cells and trays over the seed starting peat pellets.

Sowing Seeds In Seed Starting Peat Pellets

Sowing Seeds In Seed Starting Peat Pellets

If you’re trying to decide whether seed starting peat pellets are right for you, or if you should use the traditional plastic cells and trays, I say try both and see which method you like the best! I really love how easy it is to transplant the seedlings when I use the seed starting peat pellets, and if you don’t start a ton of seeds, then the added cost won’t be a huge issue. Both methods are great, you just have to decide what’s best for you.

For more information about how to start seeds inside, and tons of tips for starting seeds indoors, click here… Sowing Seeds

What about you – do you love the convenience of the seed starting peat pellets, or are you a penny pincher like me? Leave a comment below and tell me how you start your seeds.

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  1. says

    Last year was my first year using the pellets and I'm using them again this year. I'm frustrated to hear that the mesh doesn't decompose. YUCK! Thanks for the tip to remove it before planting.

    I agree, not economical at all! The replacement pellets cost as much as the pellets with the tray that I purchased last year.

    • says

      You're welcome. It's too bad that the refills cost as much as buying a whole new pre-filled tray, I'm bummed to hear that. I hate to think that people will just throw away the trays every year, not very eco friendly!

  2. says

    I've tried both methods (I did like the cells better) and actually settled on a soil blocker. It's like a tiny little press and makes blocks of soils to start seeds in. From there I usually put the larger ones (melons, squash, tomatoes) into their own little pots once they get big enough, and the smaller ones just go straight in the ground.

  3. Simne says

    I did the cells last year, but then I learned about making your own seed starting containers using toilet paper rolls. I basically cut the rolls in half, place them in a tray and fill with seed starting mix or potting soil. It's a lot cheaper than the pellets and it's reusing something we all have! I also do this when I'm wintersowing so the transplanting will be easier.

  4. says

    I bought 3 sets of cell(multi pack) from Lowe's and it was very cheap last year- 5 or 6 bucks if I remember right! Also, I've seen individual cells this year, at Walmart, if you're interested. I think Linder's/Gertens nursery should carry them too, just individual pieces, cell or dome etc., and they're cheap too.

    I absolutely hate pellets, they dry out so soon and

    • says

      Thanks for the info. I scored a bunch at a garage sale a few years back for free, so I have enough to last me a while. I thought it was interesting that HD only carries the pellets now.

      I agree about the pellets. I've been checking them daily to maintain the moisture. I think it'll get really annoying once I start to harden them off, then they'll need to be watered several

  5. says

    Good info, Amy. If I ever get around to starting plants from seed indoors I think go with the cells. You could almost just plant the seeds directly in the soil this year–it's getting so warm so fast! Happy Spring!

  6. says

    Mmmm. I guess I was always the vegetable gardening is cheaper and the product is fresher type. As to dirt is was all home composted. The flower gardens were mostly perenials. Now, I do farmers markets, since the kids are grown up, and I'm converting lawn to to wildflower gardens. And the woods to the same… Nice blog here.

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