For someone like me, who has a lot of passion for gardening but only a little space for apartment gardening, SeedSheets offer some interesting possibilities I couldn't pass up. They were featured during Season 8 of the TV show "Shark Tank" and caused quite the minor bidding war. (The whole segment may be found here.) They were eventually financed for $500,000 for a 20% stake, revealing an above average confidence in this gardening product. This was enough to get me interested in this new variation on an old idea.
SeedSheets are an easy way to sow a variety of plants that grow at a healthy distance from each other. Since the seeds are pre-spaced, the sheets allow you to sidestep much of the planning that would otherwise go into traditional companion or square-foot gardening.
They can be a good choice for beginning and intermediate gardeners and can be used in pots and sills or the earth, indoors or outdoors.
The SeedSheet is advertised as a gardening solution for "plant killers" (those who definitely do not have a green thumb). Seeds are prearranged in circular or rectangular sheets (which are basically a mesh) with a small amount of growing agent, each around the size of a shallow peat pellet.
Also included in the window sill and pot-sized variations are a porous, fabric gardening container (commonly referred to as a "grow bags") and a saucer to catch and retain excess water.
The pot-sized package contains pre-fertilized potting soil, enough to fill your small grow bag. Three green, plastic stakes come with the set that keep the sheet from dislodging or blowing away in the wind. A water "misting nozzle" can be attached to a screw-on one-liter or two-liter bottle. This helps to regulate the flow and prevent overwatering.
The smallest SeedSheets start with a single mixture of herbs - common (giant) basil, cilantro, dill (presumably of the dwarf fernleaf variety), flat leaf parsley, onion greens (a less common name for chives), and sorrel. They now offer a bonus "pizza garden variety," which contains common basil, purple basil, sun gold tomatoes, and scallions.
The backyard and raised bed/ground varieties can be custom-designed with select herbs and vegetables, though it is of note that custom sheets are not refundable. They advertise up to 80 plant types in the backyard size. The raised bed/ground size can accommodate small plants (with 48 spaces) or large plants (with 32 spaces). With the exception of seed type, all materials and accessories in each size are generally the same.
All SeedSheets come with a free smartphone app that reminds you when to water your plants and when they are ready for harvest. Essentially, all you need to make any SeedSheet work is a one- or two-liter bottle and some water.
You can grow naturally with SeedSheets.
All seeds are organic and non-GMO. The soil is free of artificial chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. All fertilizer is likewise organic. The grow bag of the pot-sized set is appropriate for beginning gardeners but really no one else. The potting soil has a high water retention rate, meaning you will need to water less frequently than with normal soil.
The larger sizes appear to be better spaced, though there does not seem to be much attention paid to plant height. The sheets are divided into "stages" (either 6 or 7) that are based on growth rate but not maximum plant height.
SeesSheets help make gardening as mistake-proof as possible.
So, why buy a sheet of seeds when you can simply plant store-bought seeds on your own? The two advantages are spacing and containment. The sheet makes it hard to forget what you planted where, and the containment cells prevent the plants from choking each other out, at least in the early stages.
It seems this product is not only for those who are not good at gardening, but also those who are not terribly interested in it. Beyond seed selection in the raised bed sizes, there is no real planning necessary, since the phone app tells you when to water and harvest.
The biggest variable, however, cannot be controlled, and that is whether or not the seeds decide to germinate. There is no special soil, chemical, or other growing agent that can significantly change the germination rates of seeds. In other words, there is a chance that some of your plants simply won't sprout. This is confirmed by a large number of online reviews.
You can grow in most environments and very little space.
SeedSheets are heavily advertised for apartment living and for people with limited yard space. The pot-sized grow bags are 8 inches x 8 inches x 3 inches. The 3 inch depth is enough for the vast majority of herbs to thrive in, though it doesn't hurt to have a little more depth for healthier plants. After all, the stronger the roots, the hardier and more prolific the plant.
The raised bed sheets measure 4 feet x 8 feet. This standard size fits well with most gardening plans you'll find online. Plants are reasonably spaced throughout but allow for no wiggle room for additional plants. The mesh is meant to encourage your garden plants while discouraging weeds. While weeds with smaller shoots will eventually get through the mesh, the sheet largely does its job in preventing invasive plant growth.
Will you really get $92 worth of herbs with the pot-sized sheet?
This figure is nothing more than a rough estimate. Can anyone actually predict how much basil will cost per bunch this coming spring?
If you want a significant amount of herbs and want to use Seed Sheets to get them, you will need to buy several sets. This is the point where some planning is unavoidable. In the pot-sized sets, all SeedSheet herbs but the chives require direct sunlight to grow.
This means 6 to 8 full hours of sun per day. I live on the second floor on an apartment complex with a balcony-style patio that is under a roof. Under these conditions, it is difficult to grow basil and tomatoes, even though my porch gets a good amount of sun from the east.
To make plant propagation as likely as possible in the bed-sized sheets, you will need to get more than one of each plant seed, which will quickly fill up even a larger garden. You need multiple types of each plant, because some seeds inevitably fail to sprout. In short, if you want more surety, you need to do more preplanning than the SeedSheet typically allows for.
There are other factors you can't control.
If you're a warm-natured person who wants to grow indoors, running your air conditioning a lot will slow or limit your plant growth. While spacing and seed separation are important, the SeedSheet offers no advantage when it comes to indoor environmental factors. Your best chance of growing herbs will always be rich, well-tilled soil in a garden plot that gets plenty of sun. And even then, germination is no guarantee, which is why you should sow several of the same seeds.
Below are the conservative, low-end germination rates for the seeds you get in the pot-sized SeedSheets. These statistics are gathered from the USDA and Purdue University's Agricultural Extension Program:
They do not instruct you on acclimating your plants.
Some prefer to grow their plants entirely indoors, which is a slower process but slightly increases the likelihood they will sprout. Indoor growing also allows you to grow year-round. You will need a strong grow lamp to do so, but it is certainly possible to harvest herbs any month of the year.
If you want to grow plants outside, you are limited by season. Outdoor plant soil dries out more quickly, so more frequent watering will be necessary.
You will also have a couple of choices to make. You can start your seeds outdoors, which makes them hardy enough from the sprouting stage to withstand intense heat. Alternatively, you can start indoors under more controlled conditions. This allows you to care for your plants more attentively and manage them throughout their early growth.
If you do the latter, you will need to acclimate your plants to the outdoors slowly, starting them with a few hours per day outside, then leaving them out overnight, then for a test period of a couple of days. While this is entirely possible with SeedSheets, it is not something included in the instructions or made especially advantageous by the sheets themselves. A greenhouse style roof or lid would help to make the acclimation easier and should really be included if you intend to start plants outside.
In scouring the reviews for SeedSheets, I found mostly middling ratings. The product averaged three out of five stars on Amazon.com. Growth results were extremely varied, but again, that is to be expected with certain types of seeds. The problem of non-sprouting seeds was further complicated by a lack of instructional literature. For intermediate and advanced pot gardeners, the planting and initial watering may be obvious. But from simply looking at SeedSheets, you can tell it is not an entirely intuitive system.
While there were several reviews in which the product working well, for many SeedSheets sprouted few or no plants for reasons unknown to the grower.
You can buy both the classic and "pizza garden" mixtures on the company's website - https://getseedsheet.io/. Hardware stores including Home Depot and certain Walmart Supercenters (as well as their website) offer them. SeedSheets of all sizes are also periodically available on QVC.
If you are a beginning gardener, SeedSheets can be a good place to start. Much of the preparation is done for you. If your seeds do germinate, there are protections in place against over- and underwatering. If you are someone who thrives on direct instruction, though, you may find this product lacking. With no instruction manual, it is sometimes difficult to grasp what the next step in the process is.
Nothing can completely eliminate the chance that your seeds will not germinate - one of the inherent challenges and adventures of growing your own plants. However, if you are willing to take that chance and are just beginning to experiment with potted herbs, you may find this product to be an excellent fit, at least until you become more proficient.