Getting Started - Sowing Seeds…
I’ve had lots of success, as well as many fails, when sowing seeds – from starting too early, sowing too many or not following the sowing instructions clearly.
It’s easy to get excited at the start of the season, not planning where you'll be planting out as well as buying lots of seeds – I’ll admit, I am known to get carried away at the garden centre or online! The great thing is, a lot of seeds have a ‘best-before’ date, so if you store them well, (in a cool, dry and dark place, preferably in an airtight container) you can save them for the following year.
My top tips for seed sowing:
1. Make a Plan – Order seed catalogues (Sarah Raven and Suttons Seeds are full of inspiration), explore social media pages for ideas and compile a list of everything you’d like to grow. From here you can make a visual plan of what you will be growing. Some plants thrive in specific soils or need certain growing conditions, so bear this in mind when planning.
2. Get your seeds – You will find seeds not only in your local garden centre, but in supermarkets too such as Lidl and Sainsburys. Look online to find unusual varieties or for multipacks, which are perfect for getting you started. You can also collect seeds for free, this year I have sown Calendula, Poppies, and Sunflowers all from seed I collected last year.
3. Choose your containers – plastic containers are great, as with a little care, they can be used year after year. Be sure to take a look at your local selling pages online such as Gumtree and Freecycle, as you’ll often find people giving away unwanted pots and trays for almost nothing! Or why not reuse and recycle plastic food containers or pots that would otherwise end up in the bin?
4. Soil selection – I have tried many different methods when sowing my seeds, from using specialist seed compost, to creating my own mix. What I have learnt is that you don’t have to spend a lot to get your seeds started,
5. Time to get sowing – It’s time to get your hands dirty and start sowing your seeds. Some seeds require certain sowing instructions, such as soaking before sowing or just being place on the surface of the soil, so make sure you read the directions thoroughly so you have a better chance of germination
6. Label up – There’s nothing worse than forgetting to label your seeds. As they begin to germinate, you may be able to identify the plant from its leaves, however a lot of plants look alike as seedlings! Many seeds come with their own label, but if not, you can pick up reusable plant markers from the garden centre or you can create your own at home, using ice lolly sticks or cut up milk cartons.
7. Watering – After all that hard work, the last thing you want to do is wash your seeds away. Fill up a tray (or sink) with water an inch or so deep and place the seed tray in it. By watering this way, you are not disturbing your freshly sown seeds and there is no chance of over watering as the soil will draw up only what it needs.
And that’s it, you can sit back and relax and wait for your seedlings to appear!
Remember, don’t let your seeds dry out, but you also don’t want to overwater either. Cover with a plastic propagation lid or plastic bag to create a moist, humid environment for your seeds and be sure to check daily.
Once your seeds start to germinate and are large enough, they can then be either moved outside to acclimatise, or be potted on.