What To Look For In Microgreen Trays
The right microgreen tray makes your life easier and improves the quality of your product.
There are many options available on the market, but not all are of the same quality.
While some swear by the cheapest trays as a way to keep expenses low, others are convinced that the increased cost of expensive trays will pay for themselves in the end.
What works for you depends on several factors.
Type Of Plastic
First of all, the quality and type of plastic are very important. You should only grow microgreens in food-grade plastic. If it isn’t food grade, it may be leaching harmful chemicals into your food.
If you plan on repurposing a piece of plastic to use for growing microgreens, your best choices are #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE), and #5 (polypropylene). These are generally considered safer and more stable plastics.
Another thing to consider when using plastic is if it’s BPA-free or not. BPA is a controversial industrial chemical found in plastics.
Research has shown that BPA is an endocrine disruptor that tampers with your body’s hormones. Studies have tied BPA to everything from increased risks of heart disease to cancers and male impotence.
Different growers have different stances on this subject—it will be up to you to decide if you want to avoid BPA in your growing process or not.
BPA-free plastics include numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5.
For many growers, the durability of a microgreens tray is a deal-breaker.
Cheap trays are usually flimsy and brittle while the more expensive trays are stronger and more flexible.
With proper care, any tray should last multiple grow cycles. But if you tend to be rough with your equipment or just like the idea of more durable, longer-lasting trays, you will need to pay a bit more.
Some of the most popular durable trays come from Bootstrap Farmer. These trays are built to withstand many uses and come with a two-year guarantee.
Tray Size and Shape
Microgreen trays come in many shapes and sizes. The most common plastic tray you will find is a 1020 tray, which is ten inches wide by twenty inches long.
Another popular size is 1010, ten inches by ten inches. Even smaller, a 5×5 tray is five inches by five inches.
Which you use mostly depends on the space you have to grow in and the number of different plants you want to grow.
The depth of the tray is another concern. The deepest trays used for microgreen propagation are 2 ½ inches. These are quite deep and when filled give roots extra room to grow which adds some stability.
The downside to using deep trays is that you will need to use more soil and harvesting can be more difficult.
Popular shallow trays are 1¼ inches. These don’t offer the same stability, but save on soil and allow for fast and easy harvesting.
With Holes Or Without Holes
Almost every type of tray no matter the color, size, or depth will come in two versions, one with holes and one without them.
Trays without holes are used for bottom watering and as lids to block light from reaching seeds during germination.
Trays with holes are meant to be placed on top of a tray with no holes. These trays are filled with soil and seeds.
The plants go in the holed tray so their roots can grow down through the holes into the tray below. This allows you to “bottom water” or pour water into the bottom tray where it can make direct contact with the root system.
While holes do add drainage, this isn’t usually very important in microgreen growing as the growth cycle is so short. Waterlogging usually isn’t a big concern.
As a rule of thumb, you should never be watering microgreens so much that a significant amount of water drains through the soil and out the holes.
10×20 Microgreen Trays
Trays that are ten inches by twenty inches are called 1020 trays. These are the most popular trays in the world of microgreens.
While all 1020 trays will have the same length and width, they differ in terms of material and depth.
Here are the best 1020 microgreen trays on the market.
Best Standard Depth Trays – Bootstrap Farmer’s 1020 Extra Strength Trays
The best standard depth microgreen trays are made by Bootstrap Farmer.
They come in white and black in packs of five, ten, or thirty.
In terms of durability, these are the cream of the crop. Bootstrap Farmer makes trays that are designed for “use and abuse” and are built to last a lifetime.
The trays come with a two-year guarantee—if the trays degrade or break, Bootstrap Farmer will replace them for free.
These extra-thick trays are BPA-free and made of food-grade plastic.
I like these trays because they don’t buckle even when full. When cheap flimsy trays are full of soil and a nice crop of microgreens, they tend to fold in the middle, often breaking the tray and even ruining the product.
These trays just feel like high-quality plastic. They keep their shape but aren’t rigid. They flex, but not enough to cause any problems.
While you will end up paying more for Bootstrap trays than other trays, I think the initial investment is worth it.
These trays will last you hundreds of grows if you treat them well.
Best Shallow Trays – Bootstrap Farmer’s 1020 Extra Strength Trays (Shallow)
If you prefer shallow trays that make harvesting a breeze, I recommend these extra-strength shallow trays from Bootstrap Farmer.
These are the same as the standard size extra strength trays but with a depth of just 1 ¼ inches.
You can get these in white or black. They come in bundles of five, ten, and thirty.
Every purchase comes with Bootstrap Farmer’s two-year guarantee to replace any damaged or broken trays free of charge.
These trays are super popular with commercial growers. You can find loads of professionals online vouching for the quality of Bootstrap Farmer’s trays.
An advantage these shallow trays have over standard trays is that you can easily get your scissors or knife down close to the root level when harvesting.
You don’t need to angle your tool down, avoiding the high walls of the tray, you can get low and cut straight across, which saves a ton of time and hassle.
Runner Up – Handy Pantry 1020 Trays
The next best microgreen tray on the market comes from Handy Pantry, a True Leaf Market company. Handy Pantry makes this incredible and affordable 1020 tray that comes with holes or without.
These trays aren’t as durable as the extra strength bootstrap farmer ones, but are still pretty tough and will last a long time if handled properly.
The advantage of these trays is that they are significantly cheaper than the others.
These aren’t ultra-cheap flimsy trays that break after one or two uses, they are a great balance of durability and value.
Handy Pantry’s trays are made from recycled materials, BPA-free, leach-resistant, and recyclable.
Small Microgreen Trays
Other than 1020 trays, there are several other popular sizes that work well for certain applications.
These smaller trays take up less room in your grow space and can fit into larger trays, allowing you to compartmentalize your crops.
Best 5×5 Trays – Bootstrap Farmer 5×5 Grow Trays/Inserts
These small trays are designed to be used in a 10×20 tray with no holes so you can bottom water your plants.
This enables you to grow up to eight different types of microgreens within one 10×20 tray.
Just like all of Bootstrap Farmer’s microgreen trays, this product is BPA-free, super durable, recycled, and food grade.
Best 10×10 Trays – Handy Pantry 10×10 Microgreen Trays
My favorite 1010 trays come from Handy Pantry on Amazon.
These trays are made from recyclable #6 plastic and are BPA-free.
They aren’t the ultra-durable kind of tray, but are sturdy and will last a long time if handled properly. Compared to Bootstrap Farmer’s trays, they are quite a bit cheaper.
Two of these 1010 trays will fit perfectly into one 1020 tray allowing you to bottom water two types of microgreens simultaneously.
Handy Pantry makes these trays with and without holes.
Do microgreen trays need holes?
Microgreen trays don’t need holes, but trays with holes are incredibly useful for certain growing methods like bottom watering.
In a simple microgreen setup, you can fill a holeless tray with growing medium and seeds and the microgreens should grow just fine.
Drainage isn’t vital for fast-growing microgreens. If you are careful about watering, waterlogging and mold shouldn’t be a problem.
However, to increase your chances of success and even increase yields, you should use a combination of holed and holeless trays.
If you put the soil and seeds into a tray with holes and then put that tray into a tray with no holes, you add drainage, but more importantly, you open up the ability to bottom water your plants.
Once the roots grow through the holes of the top tray, you can begin pouring water or nutrient solution into the bottom tray, giving your plants instant access to water via the roots, without oversaturating the soil which can lead to mold.
In short, you can get by with holeless trays for many types of microgreens, but if you want a more reliable and sophisticated method, or want to grow slower-growing plants, you should opt for a combination of holed and homeless trays.
Can you grow microgreens in glass?
You can grow microgreens in glass. Glass is a great material choice because it can be reused indefinitely, creates no waste, doesn’t leach any chemicals, and is easy to clean.
The only problem with growing microgreens in glass is that most glass containers have no holes, so bottom watering is impossible and drainage could be an issue.
If you want to try glass, a good option that you may already have lying around your house is a glass or pyrex baking or casserole tray.
Where can I buy microgreen trays?
You can find loads of retailers selling trays online, but it’s important that you only buy from reputable sources.
Buying from unknown companies will lead to broken trays and headaches, and when you need answers or assistance that company won’t be there for you.
Great companies make products they stand behind and have great customer service.
Here are three surefire options that I have used personally and that most growers can vouch for:
Bootstrap Farmer makes the sturdiest and longest-lasting microgreen trays around.
Its online store is full of microgreens supplies, greenhouse kits and supplies, hydroponics supplies, and educational resources.
Bootstrap is a top choice for microgreen growers because of its uniquely durable seed trays and great customer service.
The selection is very good and the prices are reasonable, especially considering the quality of the trays.
True Leaf Market is one of the largest suppliers of microgreen seeds and supplies. True Leaf is a highly-respected name in the microgreen space.
Many growers choose to shop for trays at True Leaf because they can get everything they need to grow in one swoop, from seeds to trays, soil, mats, and pH control.
True Leaf has just about every kind of growing tray you could ask for, all with high customer ratings and backed by years of experience.
Amazon is one of the most convenient places to buy growing trays. Just like at True Leaf Market, you can get everything you need for microgreens at Amazon, no need to shop from site to site.
While there is a huge selection of microgreen items on Amazon, they come from many different suppliers, not all of which are reputable. Shopping on Amazon, buyers should be sure to check out ratings and read reviews before buying.
You can find exceptional deals on Amazon, but just be sure to sniff out the high-quality products.
A great Amazon store for microgreen supplies is Handy Pantry. This is a top-notch brand that is a part of True Leaf Market. I’ve used Handy Pantry trays and can vouch for their quality.