We grow a lot of plants. Last time we counted, my wife (aka The Tyrant) and I have over 350 different species of edible plants that grow in our edible landscape throughout the year, where we produce food in all four seasons.
While many of these plants are perennials that come back each year, quite a few others are short-lived annuals and biennials that we start from seed. That means we have our own indoor DIY grow light setup and know a thing or two about successfully starting plants from seed.
One thing that has always irked us is how flimsy our plastic seed starting trays and cells were. Under normal wear and tear, we were lucky to get a single season use out of them before they broke, cracked, or became too brittle to use. Sure, we can recycle them, but wouldn’t it be nice to simply have something that we can reuse season after season, year after year?
After losing one too many trays and having water spill on our “greenhouse,” er dining room floor, The Tyrant finally decided she’d had enough. Using the magical powers of the internet she soon found a company, Bootstrap Farmer, that claimed to offer sturdier, longer-lasting trays, cells, and other seed starting supplies.
Who Is Bootstrap Farmer? Actual Farmers.
After doing some reading about Bootstrap Farmer, we found out the company was aptly named: they are in fact a family farm growing produce for their food truck. Tired of low-quality seed starting supplies, they decided to make their own better ones.
Next, we read the customer reviews on their products… nearly every one of them was 5 stars on Amazon. Gardeners and farmers alike loved them and were saving money and aggravation by not having to regularly replace their trays and cells.
I reached out to the founding farmer, Brandon Youst, to let him know we’d be writing this review, and we geeked out about seeds and seed starting.
We got some of their supplies in February 2017, including:
- seed starting trays + extra strength mesh bottom trays for our Ladbrooke soil blocks;
- humidity domes that we use to help keep moisture levels high until seed germination (we remove these as soon as the seeds germinate to prevent damping off;
- 72 cell seed starting trays and 2″ seed starting pots (over the years, we’ve developed preferences for starting different types of seeds in different containers or Ladbrooke soil blocks – for example, we prefer soil blocks for tomatoes, pots for edible hibiscus sabdariffa, and cells for chamomile);
- 5 gallon grow bags to test growing shallots in since voles tend to love eating our in-ground shallots before we can harvest them (this experiment worked great and we got a gorgeous shallot harvest from our grow bags a couple of weeks ago!)
Product Review: Bootstrap Farmer Seed Starting Supplies
Since the main aim of Bootstrap Farmer is to provide more durable, higher quality products that don’t have to be replaced regularly, it would not have made much sense for us to write a review immediately after trying the products. Instead, we decided to put them through the wear and tear of a full growing season (or two since we’re now using them for the second time to start our late summer/fall seeds).
We beat up our seedling trays and cells quite a bit, especially our winter/spring seed starts. Why? As the weather warms, we take them out during the day to get free sunlight and bring them back inside any time the temps get too cold. During transplanting, it’s not uncommon for our trays to get dropped, have a spade or rock smack against them, etc – all things that usually end the life of a standard seed starting tray.
Immediately upon opening the package, it was evident how strong the Bootstrap Farmer trays and cells were. A 20 pound dumbbell placed on top that would crumple a standard tray just slightly bent our Bootstrap Farmer trays (we tested them with a 14 pound cat before moving up in weight).
There are also minor differences in sizes, shapes, and depth in Bootstrap products that make them better/easier to use than other comparable products we’ve used over the years – e.g. you can tell the people who designed them actually grow plants and have an eye for detail.
After the wear and tear of the winter/spring seed starting and transplanting season, every Bootstrap tray and cell was as good as new, albeit a little dirty. No breaks, no cracks, no need to replace anything. Now, they’re full of seedlings for the next growing season: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and other cool season goodies.
We have no idea how many years our Bootstrap Farmer supplies are going to last, but they’ve already outlasted many of the flimsy supplies we’ve used in years past, plus they come with a 1-year warranty, so if they break under normal wear and tear, Bootstrap will replace them.
We haven’t had to use their customer service, but according to online reviewers who did, Bootstrap is responsive, honest, and helpful. Excellent quality products combined with great customer service explains why their Amazon reviews are so high.
Our only concern for the company is that gardeners and farmers won’t have to buy more supplies in the future so the more supplies Bootstrap sells, the fewer customers they’ll have in the future! Of course, that means the rest of us have a job to do: get more people growing food so great gardening/farming supply companies like Bootstrap Farmer can keep doing what they do.
Our rating? As you might have guessed: 5 stars, highly recommended. If you’re planning to start seeds soon for fall gardening, get Bootstrapped!