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Deep root trainers: a review

Deep root trainers in action

Deep root trainers in action

I’m way behind with sowing my seeds this year. I was very envious of Celia’s seedlings that I spotted in her greenhouse at Purple Podded Peas HQ this week. So this weekend will be a flurry of seed sowing activity.

I think that I’m a bit late for sowing chillies this year, as these really need to be sown in early February but I might try a few alongside the tomato seeds in the electric propagator. Apart from the seeds that can go straight in the ground, I’ll be using seed trays and deep root trainers for everything else.

Deep root trainers. These are not some sort of dental device that straightens teeth and simultaneously improves your roots. This is a system developed by Haznicks which allows roots to grow freely and deeply. There is also less shock and disturbance when you transfer your baby plants to a life in the big borders away from the protection of the windowsill or greenhouse.

Some people use deep root trainers for all their vegetable seeds. I just use them for germinating and growing on plants that need good root systems to do well even in a drought summer. Incidentally our local hose pipe ban is starting on 5th April this year.

I’m always keen to try out new things for the garden – especially ones that have been recommended by someone I respect. Last year I was encouraged to invest in two sets of deep root trainers. This year I’ve added one more set to my collection as they were a great success.

My sweet peas, runner beans, sweetcorn and French beans all developed really good root systems and the plants were strong, productive and much the best ones that I’ve grown to date.

I reckon that our increased harvests paid for the root trainers last year so it’s freewheeling from now on as they can be used over and over again. They are perfect for any plant that you’d like to develop a really good root system before planting out.

They are also great if space is limited as each one holds 32 plants. The overall dimensions of the rack is the same as a standard seed tray. I used the plastic lid provided until germination takes place.

When I first unpacked the root trainers I was a bit disappointed as the inserts seemed awfully flimsy. In fact, once they are packed inside the rack and filled with compost they prove to be quite sturdy. My two empty insert systems from last year have been kicking about in the solar tunnel all winter and with a brief brush out they are all ready to go.

When I was researching other people’s experiences with regard to root trainers – which incidentally was generally good (there are always a few poor sad souls that just have to shaft the item). Someone left a tip that any splits could be mended easily with electrical tape. I reckon this would be good for any breaks in thin pots and trays to use in the greenhouse.

A lot of people use old loo rolls rather than root trainers. There’s an interesting article here on Oxonian Gardener comparing the two methods. The comments are useful too – well worth checking out!


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2 Comments

  1. Alan Coates-taylor

    If toilet roll tubes or rolled newspapers are used as root trainers for runner beans should the sleeves be removed when planting out or left on?

  2. Badcat666

    Ewo! You may be ok for chilli seeds, I’m always forgetting to plant them out on time. Good tip is to sew them into small pots and then cover the top of the pot tightly with clingfilm and leave somewhere nice and warm. The clingfilm acts like a mini super greenhouse and bingo! You have your seeds. Was a tip from a friend who grows rare and weird ones and it can help with those stubborn types that never want to grow. 🙂

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