Setting up a seed raising station

Setting up a seed raising area (potting bench)

Growing things via seed can be challenging, but if you've got the right setup you'll begin to love the process. In this post I wanted to talk about the key things that makes a great seed raising area (or potting bench).

Choosing the right location

A really huge part to successful seed raising really comes down to choosing the right location. You want enough light for your seedlings to not become leggy and you also don't want them to cook in the heat of the day.

Choose a spot in your yard that is mostly protected by the harsh afternoon sun in Summer but does get direct sun at some point of the day. The easiest way to do this is by creating your own enclosure where you can control things the shade levels, but if you have a spot under your eaves on the eastern side (southern hemisphere) of your house that will do just as well.

Protect it from the elements

We've constructed a cube using weld mesh and put on 30% shade cloth (you may need to go to specialist shade cloth shop to find it) which works well year round.

When it comes to choosing shade cloth in terms of colours, particularly if you are raising vegetables, you will want to stick to either white or green (white is better). Certain colours block can some of the spectrum of light that plants need to thrive and the plants will then suffer. Whilst I love the look of black, practicality wise that would make the station too hot in summer. I opted for green so it would blend in to the surrounding (but in hindsight wish I had picked white).

Glasshouses are not recommended for our climate here in the subtropics. We don't need to trap heat - not even in winter. Things will just get too hot and succumb to fungal diseases. If you live in cooler climates you may want to look into getting a glasshouse instead.

The potting bench

We've trialled many setups over the years, from old sinks, racks, and even just on outdoor tables. Sinks were impossible to keep tidy. Whilst racks are the done thing commercially, it used to bug me no end that I'd drop my seed packets through to the ground. Instead, I've opted for a solid semi bench - with gaps to allow soil drop down.

Whatever you choose, the most key thing here is height, you want it at a comfortable height to work at. You don't want to put your back out pricking out seedlings and sowing seeds.

The storage

Unless you have a garden shed completely separate from your main potting station you'll want some form of dry area to store your bits and pieces. For ages we used plastic totes but have finally upgraded to some outdoor cabinets (see the video below)

The other thing you'll need is a place to store your seed raising mix. Opt for something that you can easily move around like a tote or bin with sturdy handles. If you're getting seed raising mix in bulk you may at least want a tote to decant your mix into whilst you're potting up.

Our seed raising setup

We recently gave our seed raising station a declutter. It is basically the place where I store all my pots and irrigation spare parts, propagate my seeds, grow micro greens and also home to our worm farm. It's not perfect, there is still loads I'd like to do in here but it works or us and it definitely makes me want to spend way more time raising seeds.

Do you have a dedicated potting bench or seed raising station? What do you love most about it?

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