3) “Sowing box” or “small seed shift tray”



In this tip:

  • A)# Sowing box
  • B)# Seed shift tray (seed slide tray)



For uniform sowing, you can use a tool like this, a “sowing box”. You can buy it in a shop for about €2.50.


Or you can use a “seed shift tray”. Maybe “seed slide tray” is a better word. Use a finger to shove each seed towards a hole in the bottom of the tray. Let the seed fall through the hole on the soil. This tool is not for sale. I have made it my self. Further in this post there is a description.


More useful:

When using my “seed shift tray” I found that working with it is a little tiring. After adding tube(s) to this tool, it works much better. Below more info.

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A “shift fall tray” is a better tool for sowing. Perhaps “slide drop tray” is a better word. It is a tray with 1 or more fall tubes. Very useful, less tiring and it gives a good sowing result. I made this tool in spring 2014. The fall tube has been fixed to the tray using a small plate and bolts and nuts. Maybe the tube can be fixed using silicone paste (not yet tried).

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This “shift fall tray” has 3 holes in the bottom and 3 tubes.


The tray with tubes is more handy. Reason:

  • The old “seed shift tray” is put flat on the soil, each time before sowing. Picking up and putting down the tray is rather tiring.
  • At the new “shift fall tray”, only the opening(s) of the tube(s) touch the ground. Moving the tray to the next sowing position is done by lifting and lowering or turning the tray. This movement is less tiring.

The “shift fall tray” works well when sowing carrots, leek, chicory, onions etcetera. More info at: tip  20 , tip  33 , tip 34 , tip  37  and  tip 38  .


Below there is info about the sowing box and the old “seed shift tray”.

A)# Sowing box

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Hold the box 1 to 2 inch above the soil.  Tap with 1 finger on the box. The seeds will move through the “little gutter” and fall on the ground. The tool works rather well for uniform sowing. Sowing goes better when you hold the “little gutter” in the direction of the sowing furrow.

For each seed to fall, you must tap 3 to 10 times. Sowing goes slow and is tiring when you have to sow many seeds. Sometimes 2 or more seeds fall together. So thinning after germinating is necessary.


B)# Seed shift tray (seed slide tray)

The seeds lay in a small tray. The tray has 3 holes through the bottom. The tray is flat on the soil during use. When the tray is on the garden soil, use a finger (index finger) to shove the seeds. You shove 1 seed to a hole and let the seed fall through the hole on the soil.  You can shove more seeds to the other holes and let them fall through them.

Then you pick up the tray and place it on the soil a few inches further. There you sow 1 to 3 seeds, etcetera.

The seed shift tray works well for uniform sowing. Sowing goes much faster and is less tiring than using the sowing box. But sowing many seeds is still tiring.


B1) Construction of the seed shift tray

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The tray is 4 inch long, 2 inch wide and 0.5 inch high.  Two “blocks” (1 short and 1 long) are glued underneath the tray. The holes are in the bottom of the tray and through the long block. The diameter of the holes is 5 millimeters (1/5 inch). But at the bottom the holes have been enlarged to 13 millimeters (1/2 inch). Both blocks make contact to the soil during use.

The V-groove in the sides indicates the position of the holes and is used when moving the tray to the next position.


B2) Bottom view of tray

During use, ground sticks to the blocks.  But the holes remain open due to the special shape.


As described above, the new “shift fall tray” with fall tubes works much better than the old “seed shift tray”.


B3) Needed to make a seed shift tray

  • A white plastic tray. My tray is used by pigeon fanciers. Size about 10 x 5 x 5 centimeters (4  x  2  x  2 inch)
  • Plastic cutting board. Thickness 5 mm (1/5 inch).
  • Special glue.


B4) Making the seed shift tray

For those who are interested, photos and short descriptions of how to make the “old” seed shift tray.



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B5) Remarks

  • The tray is white, so seeds are clearly visible.
  • The holes in the bottom are 5 to 6 mm (1/5 to 1/4 inch). The holes are tapered (/   \) at the low side using a drill of 13 mm (1/2 inch). Grind the holes to remove plastic flakes etcetera.
  • By electrostatic charge the small dry seeds can “stick” to the sides of the holes. Then immerge the tray in soapy water, take it out and let the tray dry in the air. Attention: do not rinse. When dried up, there is a thin layer of “dried soap” on the plastic. This layer prevents the tray from static charging and from seeds sticking to the plastic.


B6) Results

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On these photos you see plants sown using the old “seed shift tray”.

This entry was posted in sowing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 3) “Sowing box” or “small seed shift tray”

  1. Rachel says:

    This is so clever. When you say you shift seeds to the holes do you mean that you push the seed to the opening or do you tilt the tray so gravity moves the seeds?

    • Hello Rachel,
      I use a finger to push each seed towards an opening while the box is in horizontal position. So I do the work, not gravity. I’ve changed the text in my tip.
      Thanks and greetings, Sjef

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