Building Seedling Boxes

I plant all of my seedlings in reusable redwood seedling boxes, rather than purchasing flimsy plastic 6-pack trays that, in my experience, last only a few planting cycles. Of course, if you have 6-pack trays from past nursery purchases, use them! As always, make use of the resources you have on hand.

I built my seedling boxes out of recycled redwood 1x8 fence boards, which are a byproduct of the construction industry. You can often find this lumber on craigslist for free or cheap. Or perhaps you have your own scrap wood lying around, or a fence that needs to be rebuilt and can be recycled. Make sure the wood you use has not been treated, and use rot-resistant woods such as redwood, red cedar, or yew, or dense woods like black walnut, white oak and locust wood to ensure the longevity of your seedling boxes. See this SF Gate Home Guides article for a longer discussion about the best woods to use in home garden beds.

To minimize cuts, I decided to make my boxes a square dimension, the length and width of two boards. Note that the nominal dimensions of lumber are slightly larger than the actual standard dimensions of finished lumber. Historically, this is because the nominal dimensions were the size of the green (not dried), rough (unfinished) boards that eventually became smaller finished lumber through drying and planing (to smooth the wood). Today, standards have specified the final finished dimensions of lumber, so for example, a “2x4” board is reliably 1.5 by 3.5 inches. Given this, my 1x8 redwood boards are actually 0.75 x 7.25 inches. Because I planned to use two boards for the base of the box, I knew they’d be 14.5 inches wide. To keep it simple, I decided to make the boxes 14.5 inches long as well. For depth, to maximize my lumber I decided to strip the boards in half, making them 3 ⅛ inches deep. With eight recycled 1x8 redwood fence posts, I built six 14 ½ x 14 ½ x 3 ⅛ redwood planting boxes. See the step by step instructions below with photos.

Don’t have time to build your own seedling boxes? You can purchase sustainable, reusable seedling boxes from Planting Justice for $40! Contact Transform Your Yard at tyy (at) plantingjustice (dot) org.

Step One: Start with recycled redwood 1x8 fence posts (or your own existing lumber, and adjust dimensions accordingly).

Step Two: To make the sides of the box, strip your 1x8 in half. If you have a table saw, you can do this quite easily. However, you can also jig a guide for a circular saw using clamps. Both a table saw and a circular saw can be rented from the Oakland Tool Lending Library, located at the Temescal Branch of the Oakland Public Library.

Step Three: Cut your 3 ⅛” side boards and 7 ¼” bottom boards into 14 ½” lengths. You’ll have four 3 ⅛ x 14 ½ sides and two 7 ¼ x 14 ½” bottoms.

Step Four: Assemble the 3 ⅛” side boards into a square.

Step Five: Attach the bottom boards.

Hire Nicole Wires as a Garden Coach!

On Work (excerpt)
By Kahlil Gibran
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.
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