Start More Than 1100 Plant Seedlings in 8 Square Feet

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Although starting 1100 seedlings in 8 square feet may sound appealing, it will come with a little investment. For starters, we will need shelving, lights, 10-12 socket surge protector power bar, 2′ x 4′ heat pad, 8 eye hooks, 16 nursery flats, 16 72-cell seedling flats, 16 4-inch domes, light timer, seeds and seedling starter mix. The total cost of all this can easily run $800-$1000 with tax.

Although it can be pricey to start, growing our first 1100 seedlings would be cheaper than buying specialty seedlings from a garden centre. Remember, this is only year one. Thus, an obvious long term personal saving strategy.

In addition to the logic that this just makes sense, we will be able to eat exactly what we want without compromise and we will get our best and fastest germination rates in such a small, manageable space. It is much nicer working with known numbers than ‘what if’ scenarios from starting the seeds without ideal conditions.

Lots of strawberry plants under domes
Seedling germination with heat pad and high humidity

Since we will have 16, 72 cell flats, the actual number of maximum seedlings is actually 1152. We can move that up by using even smaller seedling cells like 128 and 200. Thus, with 200, we could almost triple that number.

However, the flats like 128 and 200 are very small and are appropriate for only some plants like lettuce, peppers, short term tomato transplants, slow growing flowers and Cole Crops.

For general growing, 72 cell will work for almost anything if we do not get the plants too rootbound.

Seedlings and Planning

Although we have discussed how many we can start, we could easily grow much more in a typical gardening season. For example, we could start lettuce early and move them outdoors in early spring(or slightly before that date). In addition, we can start plants and move them into a greenhouse or cold-frame, thus, allowing us more space to start more.

Seedlings moved into greenhouse

Another option with our lighting is that we can restart plants like lettuce and replace older(or bolting) lettuce as the season moves forward.


If we want to garden and have control over our plant types and numbers without using too much square feet, using tiers to germinate and start seedlings is the way to go.

Although the numbers may sound large, we can easily plant 16 flats in less than an hour and maintenance is likely under 1/2 hour per week.

Finally, we will recoup our investment in the short run and make large gains in the long run. Any questions? Feel free to comment below.

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