The New Bio Domes and How to Use Them

The Double Domes are back! They come with two planting blocks of either the 40-cell or 60-cell size, already filled with bio sponges.

The Double Domes are back! They come with two planting blocks of either the 40-cell or 60-cell size, already filled with bio sponges.

Park’s Bio Dome family welcomes several new members this season! We are delighted to introduce the Mega 8-Cell Bio Dome, the One-step Bio Dome, and the Gourmet Greens Bio Dome. In addition, we are happy to be reunited with the Double Domes, which contain not one but two planting blocks for twice the healthy seedlings. And finally, we have a new Windowsill Seed Starter which, though not a true Bio Dome, uses the same principles of base watering and humidity control to help germinate and grow your plants.

Bio Dome Basics

The components of the Bio Dome. The 18-cell Whopper Dome is shown here, but the original Bio Dome contains 60 bio sponges, and there is also a 40-cell planting block.

The components of the Bio Dome, plus seedling fertilizer (blue). The 18-cell Whopper Dome is shown here, but the original Bio Dome contains 60 bio sponges, and there is also a 40-cell planting block.

If you have used one of Park’s Bio Domes before, you know the principle behind this highly successful seed starting method. The Bio Dome offers the perfect germination and growth medium in the form of bio sponges, which are biodegradable plugs with a pre-drilled hole in which to drop the seed. Each bio sponge fits into a hole in the Styrofoam planting block. The planting block rests inside a heavy-duty plastic tray, which has a grooved base for better air circulation, and is designed for bottom-watering. (The bio sponges wick up water as needed from the base of the tray.) A clear plastic dome fits snugly onto the top of the tray. It has adjustable vents to control the humidity of the air within the dome, and can be propped up or removed entirely as the seedlings grow and need more air circulation.

As the seeds germinate and seedlings arise, their roots are trained to grown downwards rather than spiraling around the plant. The spacing of the bio sponges gives each seedling room to grow, and eliminates the need for thinning. And germination in the Bio Dome is usually so effective that you need put only one seed in each bio sponge — no double-sowing here! You will save a lot of seeds with the Bio Dome, making every packet go farther.

By the time the seedlings are ready to transplant, their roots are often visible from the underside of the planting block. You can add fertilizer to the base water in the tray to promote even faster, healthier growth. And if the weather cooperates, you can transplant your Bio Dome seedlings directly into the garden. Simply push the bio sponge gently upwards from the base. It will slide out of the hole and reveal a well-rooted young plant, ready for its permanent home in your garden or container!

Big, full-sized plants every time in these huge cells. The bio sponges are 3 inches high and nearly as wide!

Big, full-sized plants every time in these huge cells. The bio sponges are 3 inches high and nearly as wide!

Mega 8-cell Bio Dome

Previously, the Bio Dome has been available in 3 sizes: the original 60-cell, the slightly larger 40-cell, and the much larger 18-cell (affectionately known as the Whopper Dome). Now we’ve taken the Whopper concept to a whole new level with a planting block containing just 8 enormous bio sponges. The Mega Dome is perfect for growing larger plants and rooting cuttings. You will never need to transplant into a larger container before setting plants outdoors when they are started in the Mega Dome!

Park’s One-step Bio Dome

For gardeners who love the convenience of Jiffy-7s but also want the environmental control of the Bio Dome, we have this new hybrid!

For gardeners who love the convenience of Jiffy-7s but also want the environmental control of the Bio Dome, we have this new hybrid!

This is such a simple idea, we’re embarrassed we didn’t think of it sooner. The One-step Bio Dome combines our two most popular seed starters: Park’s One-steps and the Bio Dome. With this system, you get a base tray and clear humidity dome, plus 8 compressed peat disks (known as Jiffy-7s or One-steps). The tray and dome provide the growing environment, while the peat disks enable you to start big, healthy seedlings. At transplant time, you plant the whole disk.

Bio Dome Gourmet Greens Kit

If you love sprouting seeds, microgreens, or quick-crop lettuce, the Gourmet Greens Kit is the Bio Dome you want! It’s also ideal for those of us who like to sow seeds the old-fashioned way, in dense rows, and then prick out the tiny seedlings. With the Gourmet Greens Bio Dome, you get the advantages of the climate-controlled Dome plus loose soil rather than bio sponges.

The white insert contains several drainage holes and sits slightly above the base of the green tray. It is removable for easy cleaning. Just fill it with starting mix and sow your seeds!

The white insert contains several drainage holes and sits slightly above the base of the green tray. It is removable for easy cleaning. Just fill it with starting mix and sow your seeds!

The Gourmet Greens Kit contains the Bio Dome green base tray and clear ventilated dome, plus a removable white insert tray. Raised slightly above the base of the green tray, the white insert contains several drainage holes. Simply fill it with starting mix, sow the seeds, and water either from the top or from the base. You will see sprouts in no time!

Park’s Double Bio Domes

Back by popular demand, the Double Domes hold two planting blocks instead of one. You can mix and match these domes with your 60, 40, 18, and even 8-cell planting blocks — they will all fit! The Double Dome saves you a bit of space (and money!) when you are sowing a lot of seeds at the same time. Most of us, over the years, wind up accumulating 4 or 5 Bio Domes, and these double trays are very convenient.

Park’s Windowsill Seed Starter

Narrow enough for today's smaller sills, this seed starter maximizes the available sunlight to grow bigger, greener seedlings.

Narrow enough for today’s smaller sills, this seed starter maximizes the available sunlight to grow bigger, greener seedlings.

Though it doesn’t qualify as a Bio Dome (the dome is not ventilated, and the construction not as heavy-duty as the Bio Domes), this seed starter does offer bottom-watering and a clear humidity dome. It meets a need that more and more gardeners have been telling us they have: narrow windowsills that offer great light but not enough space to rest a traditional Bio Dome. So Park’s Windowsill Seed Starter is just 6 inches wide!

Holding 22 bio sponges, the Windowsill Seed Starter measures 21.5 inches long — just the right length for today’s standard windowsill. With only two long rows, it guarantees that every seedling will receive plenty of sunlight. And you can use the same base watering and feeding that you do with the traditional domes, as well as transplant the whole seedling into the garden or container. It might make good sense to use the Windowsill Seed Starter as a “stage two” Bio Dome for seedlings that need plenty of direct sunlight before transplant time!

Most gardeners keep their Bio Domes for many, many years, rreplacing only the bio sponges. But if you should ever need a new planting block, tray, or dome, we always have replacements!

Most gardeners keep their Bio Domes for many, many years, rreplacing only the bio sponges. But if you should ever need a new planting block, tray, or dome, we always have replacements!

Refills and Replacements

Extra bio sponges and replacement domes and planting blocks are available for all of Park’s Bio Domes. We know you will be delighted by this seed starting system, whichever model you select. Of course, we have tried them all and recommend that you mix and match to your heart’s content. Seeds germinate better and grow stronger in the Bio Dome. Try them this season, and we know you’ll be back for more!

 

About Sappho Charney

Sappho Charney is a garden writer living in Lubbock, Texas.

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