With all the seedlings available in the shops, people have forgotten the art of sowing seeds.
Whether due to convenience or lack of knowledge, we’re missing out on this cost-effective gardening ritual. In this blog, I’m going to share the basic art of seed sowing with you. I encourage you to go out and give it a try this spring and reckon you won’t go back once you do!
Why should I sow my own seeds?
I prefer to sow most of my own seeds as it gives me the control of my own environment. Though we don’t always realise it, many pests and disease arrive on the plants that we buy in the stores. You literally pay to introduce problems to your own garden!!
These seedling plants also get extremely stressed, especially with the warmer weather coming and pest and disease on the move – not a great start to life for them. How many times have you visited the garden centre and they are watering in the middle of the day or overhead watering? This is a sure-fire way to cause disease and plant stress!
How do I sow my own seeds?
Let’s imagine you know nothing of seed sowing. Follow these simple 12 steps and you’ll be on the garden path to success!
Step 1: Buy good organic seeds. This is going to be the fundamental basis to set you up for a great season ahead. My own unbiased recommendations include Kings Seeds, who have a good range of organic seeds; Running Brook Seeds, which is fantastic; and local seed banks are also a great place to start looking.
Step 2: There are usually heaps more seeds than you will need, so think about talking to other people and see if they are keen to share a packet. Seeds are the most cost-effective way of growing food or plants, and you can make it even more so!
Step 3: Open the packet and tip a few seeds into your palm, observing the seeds’ size.
Step 4: Smaller seeds need less depth to sow in than larger seeds. I usually sow small seeds into a container that is a depth of 7-10 cm and larger seeds in a container that is 14-20 cm deep. The benefit of this is to avoid wastage of the growing medium.
Step 5: Select a good organic seed raising mix for the finer seeds and an organic potting mix for the bigger seeds. Fine seeds need a fine mix to germinate.
Step 6: Pour the mix into the container and pat down to remove the air.
Step 7: Water, leave, water, leave, water, leave, water. This will enable the mix to absorb the water all the way through and not just on the top layer.
Step 8: With fine seeds, I tend to use a twig to make a depressed drill across the container, east to west. Sow the seed about 3-4 times the diameter of the seed, cover and press lightly. I also recommend that you label your seed to help keep track. You can sow many seeds in the same tray.
Step 9: For really fine seeds, you can sprinkle these on the surface of your mix and pat gently.
Step 10: Larger seeds get pushed into holes 2-3 times the size of the seed. I make my indentations with a finger, then drop the seed in, cover with soil and add my label.
Step 11: Protect your seeds from the bizarre weather we are having lately by either starting them off indoors or covering them until they have germinated.
Step 12: Water with a gentle spray every couple of days. The exception to the rule is beans, which should be watered only when they have germinated.
Next week, I will share my top tips on pricking out your new seedlings. Give seed sowing a go this spring, and let me know how you get on!