The idea behind sowing into pots and the like, is to steal a march on the seasons. Since outside is Narnia, it is the only way to garden at all at the moment. You do not need a greenhouse. Below are 10 handy tips:
- Just remember what a seed needs to bring it out of suspended animation and germinate: water, light and warmth.
- Once sown, the seeds will need either a sunny window sill or an electric propagator.
- The quality of the growing medium is important. A free-crumbling seed compost is necessary. I can recommend Levington’s John Innes seed compost or Westland’s Growsure. Steer away from those rubbishy ones that have bits of old doormat in them.
4. Choose the right containers to sow into. Half sized seed trays (20 x 15) are very handy for fine seeds such as herbs and salads.and then 9cm pots for big individual seeds like cucumber and squash. Members of the bean family (Fabaceae) are best off in long root trainers, which can then get planted direct into the ground later. (Old loo rolls do the job to perfection). Last of all there is small flat disc called a Jiffy pellet which is perfect for individual small seeds; broccoli, tomato and sweet corn. Soak to rehydrate and place one seed in the middle.
5.Open seed packets with a sharp knife - especially the inner envelope. Make a fold in the paper’s edge. This will make it much easier to control the slow flow of seeds.
6.Sow slowly and with care - newly germinated seeds will be in direct competition with one another. Do not over sow and also go for a regime of successional sowing, little and often. I aim to sow seeds once a month.
7. Be calm and organised, put an hour aside, take your radio out to your shed or table and get lost in the process.
8. Label all pots with the date and plant type.
9.Water all new sowings well. Make sure you have a fine mist spray and check every morning to see if pots need a light wetting.
10. Nurture. If you have lids - propagator or similar tip out surplus water. If you are using a propagator, remove the new plants to somewhere cooler once they have germinated.