APS Seed Starting System From Gardeners Supply

container gardening picture of basil seedlings in APS Seed Starter System
Basil Growing in APS-24. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

The Bottom Line

The APS Seed Starter from Gardeners Supply is a great self-watering system that is worth the price.


  • Keeps soil starting medium moist

  • Durable

  • Makes growing from seed easy

  • Easy to use

  • Will last for years


  • None


  • Great self-watering seed starting system
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Each system comes with pegboard, planting tray, water reservoir, capillary mat, and greenhouse cover
  • Prices start at $19.99 for the APS-24, APS- 40 or 2 APS-12 kits
  • $49.95 for APS Seed Starter Kit

Let me start this review with a confession. I am responsible for the deaths hundreds, if not thousands, of seedlings. Before I started using self-watering seed starting, my seed to successful plant ratio was totally pathetic. Now, at the risk of sounding immodest, my ratio is exemplary. And I have to say that after trying several self-watering seed starting systems, including one from Burpee and a free seed starter, of my own invention, I find that the APS (Accelerated Propagation System ) Seed Starter from Gardeners supply is my hands down favorite.

The APS Seed Starting kits, use a simple system that employs a grid made of Styrofoam which you fill with a soilless seed starting mix. This grid sits on a "capillary," hydration mat, which in turn sits on top of a pegboard. The pegboard sits in a tray that holds the water (this sounds more way complicated than it is). The edges of the capillary mat sits in the tray's water, wicking up enough moisture to keep the seed starting mix damp. According to Gardeners Supply, the water reservoir holds enough for planting medium to stay moist for about five days.

The APS Seed Starting system comes in several sizes. The APS-40 has 40 cells and each is 1 1/2 by 2 inches and 2 inches deep. Gardeners supply recommends this for "small seedlings, flowers, and vegetables that are easily transplanted." The APS-24 Seed Starter has the same outside dimensions, but the cells are larger - 2 by 2 inches, with the same 2-inch depth as the APS-40. Gardeners supply recommends the APS-24, "for fast-growing seedlings like tomatoes, peppers, and marigolds."

There is also an APS-12 that has the same 2-inch cells as the APS-24 but is designed to fit on a windowsill.

While at first glance this system might seem a bit pricey, other less expensive systems that I've tried, simply don't work as well. Also, the APS Seed Starter System will hold up for years and if something breaks, you can replace just that part without having to replace the whole thing.

You can add a water meter to the set, which is handy because it's a little difficult to see the water level, but a finger works just fine too.

This system is truly one of the best purchases you can make for starting seeds.