In my last entry I showed how we made space in the subflooring of our box for plant trays. I wanted to get the trays constructed sooner than later. Katy likes to get her plants into the trays and under grow lights in plenty of time for the show. This allows the plants time to get over any transplant shock and to be well established in their environment by Flower Show time. Visually, plants that have been happily growing for awhile look quite different than hastily transplanted specimens. The plants generally do better grown together than in individual pots, especially in the dry winter environment of the house. The pre-planting also allows her to see which plants may not do well and either adjust their care or grow backups. Also with a two month window one can make changes in the plantings and still have the plants happy at show time.
To make the trays I simply take the cutout piece from the subflooring and make it the base of the tray. I then build up sides from the base using 1/2″ by 2″ (really 1 1/2″) poplar that I fasten with carpenter’s glue and wire nails. There are a lot of odd angles here but don’t be concerned that this takes fine carpentry skills. Any small gaps can just be filled with caulk to seal the tray. After the tray is built we line it with plastic to avoid water seeping out of the tray. Once this is done the tray is filled with a mix of potting soil, worm castings (for feeding) and sphagnum moss (to hold moisture) and is ready for planting. It is possible to create differing soil and watering environments using peat pots and to leave room for last minute additions that may need special care.