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How to Use the Fast Start™ Seedstarter

Fast germination and healthy growth
in a convenient, earth-friendly, self-watering seedstarter

By Suzanne DeJohn

Starting Tomato Seeds
in the Fast Start Seedstarter

Filling the cells

Filling the biodegradable planting tray with earth-friendly Eco-co™ Coir Seedstarting Mix, which is made from coconut husks

Planting seeds

Planting tomato seeds


Nearly 100% germination!

Tomato seedlings

Seedlings are growing strong.

Healthy roots

Healthy seedling roots

Get a jump on spring by starting your favorite plants from seed, even while the snow still flies! Our Fast Start Seedstarter makes it simpler and easier than ever to get fast germination and grow healthy seedlings. And because it's self-watering, it takes the worrying and watching out of seedstarting for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.

The Next Revolution in Indoor Seedstarting

The Fast Start Seedstarter is the newest in our long history of seedstarting innovations for home gardeners. Almost 30 years ago, Gardener's Supply introduced the exclusive APS (Accelerated Propagation System), an efficient seedstarting system inspired by systems used on English flower farms. Decades later, the APS continues to be a customer favorite. Yet even with such resounding product success, we're constantly asking ourselves, "Can we make this even better?'" And that's what we've done, with the new Fast Start Seedstarter.


One of our goals has been to find a more earth-friendly option to replace the APS's Styrofoam planting tray. “We’ve been working and testing for many years to develop an ecologically friendly, self-watering seedstarting system that gets excellent results,” said Diane Fuchs, a Gardener’s Supply Company employee-owner who helped develop the Fast Start Seedstarter.

For four years, our product design and development team researched and tested alternative materials, including peat and bamboo. Each material posed its own set of challenges and concerns, and none matched the success of the APS system. Then, two years ago, they began rigorously testing a new, plant-starch-based, biodegradable planting tray and we're thrilled to announce that it passed every test with flying colors! “Seedlings absolutely love Fast Start!” exclaims Diane.

Effective, Earth-Friendly, Biodegradable and Durable

The new Fast Start planting tray is made from PLA (polylactic acid or polylactide), which resembles plastic with one big difference: It biodegrades under landfill conditions, breaking down into carbon dioxide and water. Unlike other biodegradable materials that decompose too quickly to be effective in our seedstarter, Fast Start trays last an entire seedstarting season. When you're through, you can discard the cornstarch-based tray, guilt-free. There's no need to wash and sterilize it because you use a fresh planting tray for each seedstarting cycle.

In addition to being earth-friendly and easy-to-use, the Fast Start Seedstarter provides an exceptionally high success rate. “In our testing of Fast Start, we saw almost 100 percent germination, always,” Fuchs said. “Seedlings get the right amount of water when they need it to germinate, and you don’t have to keep an eye on it all the time. It’s a great system for beginners who want to try out seedstarting, and for more experienced folks who want success without worry.”

Each Fast Start Seedstarter contains:

  • A disposable, Biodegradable Planting Tray, made from a revolutionary cornstarch material that eliminates the need for washing and sterilizing
  • A clear Greenhouse Cover to capture heat and moisture for fast germination
  • A Machine-Washable Capillary Mat to wick up the perfect amount of water for young seedlings
  • A top-rack Dishwasher Safe, Leakproof Reservoir that lasts for years and a sturdy Platform to support the growing tray and capillary mat within the reservoir

At Gardener's Supply, we never stop testing our products and looking for opportunities to improve them. Product design and development team member Frank Oliver notes, "We are committed to make everyone's gardening experience more successful, one seed at a time."