Gardening Review: Root Farm Starter Kit versus the AK Lawn Care and Seed Starter

So this will be Savvy Mom Survival Guide’s first review… and since it is almost Spring here in the North East I figured I would do the review on something I am using at the moment.

Last year I had my first garden on the farm, and learned a great deal about planting, soil, weeds, timing, and harvesting. This year I am determined that I will start my garden on time, and with my own plants. Not that there is anything wrong with buying starter plants from the local suppliers, I just want to see what happens.

First, I purchased the the Dollar General by AK Lawn Care Seed Starter 72 Cell Mini Greenhouse it has 72 open slots, and just needed soil to get things started.

But, then we were perusing around in Tractor Supply and I found the Root Farm Seed Starter Kit which has soil already in it, with holes that you simply place seeds into. The material is dirt which is almost spongy like.

We will review the Root Farm Seed Starter Kit first, because that is the one that I used first. The kit was originally $24.99 at Tractor Supply, but when I purchased it, it was $8.49. The process was easy, as you can see above, I simply placed he seeds I wanted to use in the holes, and then I placed the name tags of everything that was in the column on the seed sticks by Burpee.

A few things that I learned with this process were a). the seeds do have to be pushed into the holes when they are large such as sunflower seeds or bean seeds. I was not a huge fan of that because I do not want to damage the seeds, and b). there are very few instructions and they were not clear to me, so I called the 800 # on the package but quickly determined I could figure it out on my own. I googled the product to see if I was doing it right, and there was very little information online either.

Once I added the recommended 1/4 inch water in the bottom pan, the individual pods started to float around, and they were not holding the water that I put over the top of each pod. I ended up placing the plastic back over the top and placing a cutting board on top of that to hold it down and help the water absorb into the pods. This seemed to work to encourage the water to absorb into the pods.

A week later… the pods are already sprouting sunflowers, peas, cherry tomatoes, (those are for Olivia and my dad) beans and snap peas.

The AK Lawn Care 72 Seed Starter kit, is more traditional, it does not come with the pre-loaded soil, it comes with a base tray to hold the water, and 72 empty pods for soil and seeds. The additional part that I liked was that it comes with a plastic atrium top that creates a greenhouse effect.

Next, I placed the soil in the open sections of the tray, I utilized the starter soil from Dollar General as well called True Living Outdoors Professional Potting Soil which already includes Fertilizer. I packed down each open section to ensure they were packed well for root growth.

The process to insert the seeds into the soil was relatively easy. I punctured holes in the dirt with my sharpie market to ensure that the holes were big enough for various types of seeds.

Once all the holes were placed I determined what I was going to plant in each section. The previous planter from Tractor Supply had many of the same vegtables in it, but I figured whatever I have an over abundance of my dad, brother, or neighbors could have for their gardens.

I planted extra Sunflowers because it seems that they struggled to grow last year, and I had a family member pass away last month that loved them. I would like to have Sunflowers everywhere on the farm if I could, it is certainly a learning process with different flowers and our soil, weather patterns etc. Last Summer it was very wet here in the North East, so alot of the flowers I planted either took off everywhere or they died. That is more than likely the issue with the Sunflowers, but I will pray for a hot and wet Summer this year.

I dropped all of the seeds into their pre-selected sections, and then covered them in dirt. The instructions for the Dollar General Self Starter also recommended 1/4 inch of water in the base container in order to keep the soil wet and allow for root growth.

NOTE: The process also recommend that the soil is wet before placing the seeds, I have never done that before because in my experience all that does is make mud. I was planting these in the house at our extra side table, and I really did not want to deal with mud. Therefore, I planted the seeds, and watered the soil, this filled the base only slightly, so I then placed the 1/4 inch water in the base.

Below is the finished product with the name sticks included, I had to cut them down to make sure that they fit inside the greenhouse. I am hopeful that they will grow as well as the pods have started to grow already. Now, keep in mind the pods from the Root Start kit were started a week earlier, but I already have major growth.

My final review of the process is that even though it is more traditional, and more steps I still prefer the soil, seed, plant method that the Dollar General seed starter kit offered. However, from a beginning growth perspective I am torn if the Root Start kit or the traditional soil starter kit will be better.

I plan on continuing to provide you with updated photos of the plants as they grow, so we will determine the winner in several weeks to a couple of months when things are ready to go in the ground. Here is Upstate New York we are in the May-June planting band on the planting spectrum.

I hope that you found this review helpful. Please let me know if you are interested in hearing about anything else garden related, and I will do my best to get it and review it.

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