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You are on your microgreens journey, growing nutritional food from home.
Whether you are growing for personal use or for commercial sales, knowing which microgreen trays you need is an important step in getting the best yields and making the process as streamlined as possible.
Did you know that the best type of microgreen trays differs depending on the growing medium you use?
Overall, shallow trays are better for use with a substrate such as soil or coco coir because the soil absorbs the water from the bottom tray easily and allows you to cut at the base of the soil while using less soil than a normal depth tray.
Deep trays are better utilized for hydroponics because they can hold more water without drying out overnight.
Normal-depth microgreen trays are best used for crops that have longer roots such as peas or sunflowers, allowing them to get the best growth rate and soil nutrition. Some growers still consider this wasting soil and will grow these crops in shallow trays.
In this article, HerbSpeak will cover the pros and cons of several popular microgreens trays to help you decide which one is right for you – and which ones just aren’t worth the money for what you’re looking for.
Do Microgreen Trays Need Holes?
If you have watched videos on YouTube about growing microgreens, then you know that they have many benefits. This might have enticed you to start growing, and upon reviewing some of the tutorials online, you may notice that every commercial grower has these 10×20 microgreen trays with drainage holes, stacked inside another tray without holes.
Microgreen trays do not need holes. It is not necessary that you have this drainage layer, however, it is beneficial to include in most circumstances, making the growing phase a lot easier to manage.
Stacking a drainage tray on top of a regular microgreens tray prevents the microgreens from being over-watered when watering from the top, allowing excess water to collect on the bottom tray instead of saturating the soil at the bottom.
Many microgreens benefit in look, texture, and overall crop health by being bottom-watered. Bottom-watering can also help control the water uptake of the plants, so they only take in as much as they need. Likewise, it can also help establish the microgreens’ roots because the roots will begin seeking out the source of water.
There are, of course, exceptions to this, and some microgreens growers choose to perform a mix of bottom and top watering depending on the circumstances, but for many growers, it is easier to control the distribution and amount of water that the crop receives by simply watering from the bottom.
If you do not want to buy two trays for one set of crops, then you can select a tray without drainage holes.
For the best results, HerbSpeak recommends choosing two trays of the same size: one with drainage holes and one without. These trays should stack on top of each other easily with a little room between the two so that the water in the bottom tray can soak up into the soil, but not saturate it.
Drainage Holes Available?
No Hole Trays Available?
Shallow Extra Strength Trays
Homend Seed Sprouter Tray
Yes - one unit
Yes - one unit
10 X 20 Growing Tray
True Leaf Market (Handy Pantry)
Extra Strength Microgreen Seedling Trays
Urban Farm Supply
Bootstrap Farmer Microgreen Trays – Shallow 1020 Trays
The lifecycle of your microgreen trays should last a lot longer than the lifecycle of your microgreens. Bootstrap Farmer took this to heart when they began working on their 1020 microgreen trays.
These trays are made with extra-strength, BPA-free and food-safe #5 polypropylene plastic to ensure it can withstand just about anything you put it through, from the grit of sanitizing trays, to the routine growing and watering no matter what medium you are growing your microgreens in.
The shallow trays are available in multiples of 2, 5, 10, and 30 when ordering the black trays. The colored trays are available in packs of 10 or 30, and both are available with or without holes. Bootstrap Farmer offers a cost incentive, with the price per tray reduced the more bought in a pack at once.
- Commercial-grade durability that will last hundreds of grows before they show any signs of wear.
- Comes in a variety of colors to help your market advertising or labelling.
- Shallow grooves make these trays easy to clean.
- Fits any standard 1020 flat and works great for both soil mediums and hydroponics.
- Pricier comparesd to other trays.
- Not the type of trays to use for live-tray microgreens (don’t give away something this good!)
- Available on Amazon as well, but trays come with fewer shipping mishaps when ordered directly from the manufacturer.
True Leaf Market Microgreen Trays – 10 X 20 Growing Trays
These trays are re-usable, made with polystyrene which has been deemed food-safe by the FDA. These trays are more durable than most plastic seed starting trays for generic gardening but should be handled with care to prevent wrapping and tearing as the material is still flimsy for repetitive use as needed in microgreens.
Many users have commented that, to add some rigidity to the frame of the tray, they double-up on tray types, growing with two trays with holes and two trays without.
Conversely, this makes them a great option for selling as live trays since they are more durable than standard gardening seed starting trays.
These trays are also an excellent starting point for hobbyist growers or new commercial growers who cannot or do not want to invest money into more durable trays yet. These trays can be bought in multiples of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100, with the cost dropping with more trays ordered.
- Cost-effective and durable enough for the hobbyist or beginner grower.
- Able to be used with soil growing mediums or hydroponics.
- Great for selling live microgreens with the tray included or for personal use with minimal movement.
- Flimsy or thin materials for their purpose. Handle with care to prevent bending and warping.
- The holes are inconsistent, as if hand-cut, making it more difficult to clean some trays.
- No other depths available in the 10×20 size and the cell ridges are high, causing seeds to stick to the bottom if used as a weighted blackout tray.
Homend Microgreen Trays – Seed Sprouter Tray
This seed sprouter tray is one of the most cost-effective choices for growers who want to get started sooner rather than later, or those who aren’t looking for more than a small, countertop grow.
These trays are made for wheatgrass and other crops which can be grown easily in water or on thin growing mediums. We do not recommend using this tray with finer grades of soil, as it may fall through the mesh into the bottom tray without a hemp mat or other growing medium to help divide it. Coir and other types of larger grade soil is suitable.
Each tray is a two-piece unit which contains a planting plate, which is the white mesh inner-tray, and an outer green water tray. These trays nest in each other perfectly without trouble, and most orders come with seed starting paper which can be later replaced with other types of paper.
These trays are available on Amazon as a 2 or 3 pack.
- Cost-effective, making it a perfect tray for personal countertop grows.
- Re-usable BPA-free, non-toxic polypropylene plastic.
- Stackable with itself for easy storage.
- Quality control issue: not all holes in the tray are punched out, requiring manual punching.
- The center of the top tray raises the soil away from the water, making it difficult for center crops to grow at the same rate.
- Warp easily in heated conditions such as a dishwasher.
- No available lid made specifically for this tray.
Urban Farm Supply Microgreen Trays
These trays boast being able to last 6-8 years, made with food safe, BPA-free non-leaching polypropylene #5 plastic. These trays allow airflow to pass to trays underneath even when stacked, making them an excellent choice for germination.
These trays are not available without holes, nor are there any domes or lids available, meaning the user will need to create their own, makeshift solutions.
These trays feature shallow sides which can be used with a thin layer of soil. We recommend using these trays for hydroponics methods or grow mats instead.
Overall, between the significant price and lack of options we cannot recommend these trays highly for microgreens unless they are used in a hydroponics system that was only missing 11×23 trays. These are excellent germination trays when used with mats, however.
- Durable polypropylene plastic which can withstand up to 20 lbs of weight without warping.
- Stackable design allows trays to save space while maintaining proper airflow between flats.
- Shallow sides for low-cut harvesting.
- Expensive per-tray cost may be prohibitive.
- Larger dimensions without the option for a bottom-watering tray without holes.
- Exclusively holes-only trays for now: makeshift bottom-watering and blackout tray required for traditional grows.
HerbSpeak’s Top Choice – Bootstrap Farmer
Out of all the microgreen trays we’ve tried, Bootstrap Farmer was the one we stuck with. While some of the other trays we tested were eventually used for other indoor gardening needs, or gifted away, Bootstrap Farmer was the one we ordered more of.
When growing microgreens, it’s recommended many varieties are weighed down during blackout. Using three Bootstrap Farmer trays – one for a bottom-watering tray, one for a growing tray, and one for a blackout tray on top of the soil, we were able to place 35 lbs of weight on the tray without any sign of damage afterwards. When handling the tray off the rack, we have been able to place up to 15 lbs without damage or warping.
Another thing we like a lot about this tray is the fact that the ridges on the bottom are smooth, so it doesn’t stick to the seeds when you take it off the top of the soil like other 1020 flats did. Our seeds stayed in place in the soil, even though we wet the top without extra soil on top. This is an amazing time-saving quality, preventing anyone from having to re-distribute their seeds or face a loss in yield after taking the blackout tray off.
Bootstrap Farmer also offers a 2-year warranty on all their trays. Every tray is made with food-safe, BPA-free, durable polypropylene plastic to ensure nothing goes wrong.
HerbSpeak’s Budget Choice – Homend Seed Sprouter Tray
The Homend Seed Sprouter tray comes with everything you need to get started on a budget. These trays are inexpensive and provide everything you need to start growing for personal use. These trays are much smaller than your standard 1020 flat, measuring 9×13, but they fit perfectly on a kitchen counter, allowing you to place it out of the way against a window, or underneath the cupboards with a mounted light.
We were able to comfortably place 5 lbs of weight on top of these trays without causing any warping or breakage of the mesh layer. While these trays may not be made with weighting or blackout conditions in mind, it is easy to place an opaque lid over the top and a couple of cups on top in a pinch. Depending on your greens, you may not even need a blackout period.
When these trays are not in use, you can stack them on top of each other for easy storage.