The key to successful Seed Sowing is preparation
Date Posted: 01 January 2015
The recent wet and windy weather has made gardening outside virtually impossible, the ground is sodden and too wet to dig, many areas have been flooded and snow is forecast.
Whilst the garden is out of action now is the ideal time to start planning for the year ahead, one of the first jobs is to sort through your seeds, order new ones and make sure that you have everything ready for the next few months when you start to sow them.
Seeds should be stored in cool, dry conditions preferably in a sealed Seed Tin which will protect the seeds from insects and animals, have a good look through your seed packets throw any away that are past their sow by date, old seeds and ones that have not been stored correctly often will have a poor germination rate. I make a record on the back of my seed packets and in a notebook when and how many seeds I have sown as well as any germination/growing notes and if they were/were not successful, by doing this you have a good record of varieties that have done well and are worth growing again. There are many seed suppliers with hundreds of varieties available and new varieties every year to tempt you, the choice is enormous if you want to grow a few different varieties why not share your seeds with friends or amongst the members of your gardening/social club.
Make a Sowing Schedule
Once you have sorted out your existing seeds and received your new seeds it is well worth the time to make a Sowing Schedule. Using the information on the back of your seed packets as a guide make an indoor sowing schedule especially if you have a large selection of plants you want to grow and you have limited space in your propagator, some seeds take longer to germinate and grow and need to be started off first for example Sweet and Chilli Peppers, again repeat this to make an outdoor sowing schedule but always take note of the actual weather conditions there is no point sowing seeds into water logged or cold soil they simply will not grow, wait until conditions improve, you can sow seeds earlier by covering the soil with cloches.
A Propagator is essential if you want to get your seeds started earlier and to ensure a good germination rate, they provide the correct temperature and humidity for your seeds, plants and cuttings to grow. If you already have a Propagator it is a good idea to plug it in and check that it is still working, if you haven’t got one I highly recommend them they are very easy to use and take the guess work out of growing from seed, I have two and in Spring they are both in use, once seeds have germinated and the seedlings have got to a good size they are removed and replaced with new sowings, you will find the recommended germination temperatures on the back of the seed packets.
There are many different types and sizes of propagators available click here for more information.
You can use Seed Compost when sowing your seeds, Seed Composts have been sterilised so the only plants that come up are the ones that you have sown or a good Multipurpose Compost suitable for Seed Sowing. Buy a new bag each year, believe it or not composts can have a used by date and can lose nutrients over time. Seed composts do not contain large lumps they are fine and loose in texture allowing excess water to drain away yet retaining enough moisture to germinate the seeds, as they contain only limited nutrients once your seedlings have got large enough to handle they will need potting on into larger pots, cells or trays using a good Multipurpose Compost that contains all the nutrients they need to grow into good sized plants ready for transplanting into their final growing positions.
Pots, Trays and Hygiene
It is surprising how many pots and seed trays you need once you begin to grow from seed, you can reuse your existing pots but over time some become damaged and split, take stock of what you have, did you have enough last year? it is well worth having some extra on hand. Good hygiene is important when sowing seeds and growing on, all pots, trays and equipment should be given a good wash with a mild garden disinfectant such as Hortisept Pro before you start, wipe down the tray of your propagator and wash the lid.
Potting Trays and Seed Sowing Equipment
One of the most used items in the greenhouse is the Potting Tray, I use it for sowing my seeds, transplanting seedlings and potting on plants it holds all the surplus compost which can easily be returned to the bag, they are ideal for containing any mess and can be brought inside on the kitchen table to do a spot of indoor gardening. In the summer months I often fill it with water and put plants in that are in need of a good soak.
Seed Tampers and Mallets are handy for gently firming and levelling the compost prior to sowing they are available either round or square to fit your pots.
Sieves are very useful in the greenhouse the larger ones for removing big lumps from your compost and the small ones for lightly covering your seeds.
For more information on Sowing and Growing in a Propagator click here.