How to use a plug tray in your garden – Sara's Kitchen Garden
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How to use a plug tray

I decided to use a plug tray to grow leafy greens that I can put in the shady spots in my garden. I really recommend this method! I grow plenty of different vegetables this way, for example, sprouting broccoli.

En hand håller en liten planta med perfekt rotsystem.

These perfect little plants look almost unaffected by the hot and dry conditions. All because I decided to use a plug tray.


These past few years have been challenging in many ways. There are so many ideas and goals that I haven't been able to realize yet because the kids have been too small. And last summer was so dry! Mulching helped of course, but I still lost a lot of plants last year. I wasn't able to grow turnip, lettuce, some summer flowers, arugula and a few other leafy greens outside. They simply withered away since I wasn't able to water them as much as I would have liked.

My strategy this year has been to pick a few new spots that aren't exposed to the sun all day, like most of my other beds outside. I'm creating a bed for my perennials on the north side, but instead decided to grow leafy greens in this spot this year. I will write more about this bed later.


Ett supergrönt och välfyllt pluggbrätte.Use a plug tray, a lush and green tray.

My plug tray, filled with fast-growing cabbage varieties that I can plant and then harvest at the end of summer. Hopefully!


More about cabbage: Growing cabbage, from sowing to harvest


Using a plug tray

If you're having issues with drought in your own garden, you might want to try to use a plug tray. The plug tray helps me sow a lot of seeds in a small space. I use underground irrigation and put the sowing in a shady spot. The plug tray in the picture above mainly contains kale, napa cabbage, and arugula. I decided to put a row cover on top of the plug tray to keep the pests away.

I really like to use a plug tray since it's so easy to move and it doesn't require as much water as a sowing in the beds outside. Another plus is the convenience of just grabbing a few plants from the tray whenever I get an empty spot in my bed.



Jag håller en liten vacker planta i min hand. Use a plug tray, a beautiful little plant.

I used regular potting soil and fertilized the seeds with diluted urine a few weeks after the seeds germinated.


Närbild på gröna kålplantor i pluggbrätte. Use a plug tray, close-up of cabbage.

It really pays off to use a plug tray! I have 150 plants in this one. I'm hoping to get a lot of food from them! I harvest my leaves small and large.


The plants look so beautiful with their perfect little root systems! I decided to put several little seeds in each cell. Now that it's time to put them in the beds outside, I just pushed the entire clump of soil from each cell and planted them without dividing the plants. I might do that later though. My only worry is that I don't want to waste any more plants.


Närbild på plantor som ligger på jorden, redo att planteras. Use a plug tray, close-up of plants.

I made a little ditch with extra airy soil in the bed, left some space between each clump and pushed the soil back around them. And then I watered the bed.


Sprouting broccoli

The plants I'm using here are sprouting broccoli, also called Hon Tsai Tai. This is a fast-growing vegetable and you can use both the leaves and the stalks. The stalks are red and resemble a little broccoli. Tastes great pan-fried.

In fall, I try to harvest several fast-growing varieties that I sowed during summer.



Shady spots

I decided to go for a shady spot with this project. It's nice and moist even though the soil is bare. It's very different from how uncovered soil looks in the rest of my garden. The plants are placed in the little ditch in the middle, it's the perfect way to grow now that it's dry outside. The water stays in the little depression in the bed instead of going somewhere it's not needed. I have been writing about this and many other tricks that you can use when it's dry outside:


Read more: Growing vegetables in dry conditions


En liten planta ligger i jorden redo att planteras. Use a plug tray, a plant ready for the bed.

I just love the way my cabbage plants look, the light purple and green just look so beautiful!


Den oregelbundna bädden sedd ovanifrån med täta rader bredvid varandra. Use a plug tray, the uneven bed seen from above.

This is what my bed looks like, ridges and little depressions in the soil where I sow and plant. I decided to put my vegetables quite close together to save some space. I fertilize with nettle water or diluted urine.


All I can do now is wait and see what happens! My plants are growing quickly and I hope to get plenty of lovely leaves that I can use for my salads or wok. But the stalks are my favorite of course!
/Sara Bäckmo

23. August 2021