A seed pan

These days those of us who grow plants from seed expect to put seeds in trays made of rather flimsy plastic. Such trays are suitably shallow and have plenty of drainage holes so that it is hard to swamp the little seedlings with too much water.

But what about times past?

Our curator remembers his dad using wooden trays that greengrocers had – the kind that citrus fruits came in with the fruits each wrapped in tissue paper. But such boxes rotted away quickly.

In times even longer past, gardeners used seed pans made of clay. These were made by the local brickworks. We have a number of these seed pans at Market Lavington Museum and this is one of them.

19th century seed pan at Market Lavington Museum

19th century seed pan at Market Lavington Museum

This pan dates from the second half of the nineteenth century. It is about 9 inches square and is deeper than a modern plastic tray. If we turn it on its side we can see that it has four holes for drainage.

 

seed pan drainage holes

seed pan drainage holes

A prudent gardener would have covered these with large stones to make sure not too much of his compost washed away.

The chances are that this was made at the Lavington brickworks when it was owned by William Box, but we cannot be certain of this.

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