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.

With 1 drop tube:

schuif 61

A “shift fall tray” (or slide drop tray). It has a rubber band near the opening of the drop tube. The fall tube has been fixed to the tray using a small plate and bolts and nuts. The tube can also be fixed using silicone paste.

papr 8

Sowing sweet peppers through holes in a sink mat. Due to the rubber band the drop tube does not go too deep in the sowing soil.

groei 2c

groei 7

Sowing carrots on flat soil. An extra tube around the drop tube prevents soil earth from getting into the drop tube (and block it).


With 3 drop tubes:

groep 18

groep 17

This “slide drop tray” has 3 holes and 3 drop tubes to sow at 3 different sowing spots.


The tray with drop tubes is more handy and more useful;

  • At each sowing spot, the “old” seed shift tray is put flat on the soil, lifted and put flat on the soil again. each time before sowing. This is rather tiring.
  • At the new “slide drop tray”, only the opening(s) of the tube(s) are put on the soil and lifted at each sowing spot. This is less tiring.

The “slide drop tray” works well when sowing tomatoes, peppers, carrots, leek, chicory, onions and so on. 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

Sowing box with leek seeds.


Hold the sowing box about one inch above the soil. Tap with one finger on the box. The seeds will move through the hole, through the little gutter and fall on the ground. The tool works rather well when holding the little gutter in the direction of the sowing furrow.

For each seed to fall, you must tap 1 or 10 times on the box. Sowing much seed is much tapping (very tiring) and goes slowly.

Sometimes more seeds fall together, so thinning out later is necessary.

(A colleague gardener told me that the sowing box works better with no lid on).


B)# Seed shift tray (seed slide tray)

Seed slide tray with leek seeds.


Put the tray flat on the garden soil. Use one finger to slide 1 or more seeds towards a hole and let the seed fall through the hole on the soil. Lift the tray, place it on the soil a few inches further and sow seeds there.

Sowing with my seed slide tray goes much faster and is less tiring than using the sowing box with gutter. With one slide you drop seed(s) on the soil. No shaking, no tapping. Sowing many seeds is still tiring.


B1) Construction of the seed shift tray (seed slide tray)

The dimensions of the tray are about 10 x 5 x 1 centimeters (4 x 2 x 0.5 inch).  Two “blocks” (1 short and 1 long) are glued underneath the tray. Three holes of 5 millimeters (1/5 inch) are in the bottom. At the bottom of the block these holes have been enlarged. Next to the holes there are 2 V-grooves in the sides as indication.


B2) Bottom view of tray

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


B3) Needed to make a seed slide tray

  • One white plastic tray. The tray on the photo above is used by pigeon fanciers. For sale on the internet, for example   here   . Price about € 1.00.
  • Plastic cutting board. Thickness 5 mm (1/5 inch).
  • Special glue (to stick the 3 plastic blocks to the bottom of the tray).


B4) Making the seed slide tray

Below are photos and short descriptions of how I made the seed slide tray.




B5) Remarks

  • The tray is white, so seeds are clearly visible.
  • The holes in the bottom are 5 millimeters (1/5 inch) diameter. The holes are tapered (/   \) at the low side using a drill of 13 mm (1/2 inch). Grind the holes to remove plastic flakes.
  • When dry seeds “stick” to the tray (due to electrostatic charge), acts as follows:
    • immerse the tray in soapy water,
    • let the tray dry in the air (do not rinse first),
    • now there is a layer of dried soap on the tray and seeds do not stick anymore.


B6) Results

On the photos above you see carrots or leeks sown using the old “seed shift tray”. This tool works very well when sowing leeks (leek seeds on black or dark garden soil are hard to see). 


2 thoughts on “3) “Sowing box” or “small seed shift tray””

  1. 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?

    1. 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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