How to Sow Seeds
Despite following the instructions on the seed packet, do you have trouble getting your seeds to grow and survive? Never fear, GardenAdvice.co.uk are here to share some expert tips on how to guarantee success.
How many times have you started off your seed only to find that only a couple, or none at all, germinate, or that they damp off and peg off no matter how much loving care you have given to your little babies?
Be assured that this happens to all of us at some time or another. But there are a few things you can try to ensure the best possible chance of success.
This article is in two parts. The first part is for planting in a glasshouse – either in seed trays (flats) or in pots. The second part is for planting seeds outside.
Sowing Seed in the Glasshouse Tips
• Always use a good quality multi-compost or seed compost, and if it appears to have too much peat in it, add a little silver sand. This will help the compost to drain better and so damping off problems should be lessened.
• If the seed is fine (some begonia seed is so fine that it looks like a few specks of dust), shake it together with a little dry silver sand in a paper bag before sowing. This will help to reduce the static, which makes it stick together as well as to allow you to spread the seed evenly over the flat or seed tray.
• Always ensure there is plenty of ventilation in the glasshouse. You may find it helpful to invest in an automatic vent opener to save you having to run in and out of the glasshouse to open the vents. This will also be useful when you go away on holiday.
• Everyone knows you have to ‘watch the watering’ to ensure that you don’t over water. This can be difficult though because sometimes the soil can be dry on the surface but when you go a little deeper it is soaking wet. The solution to this, especially with fine seed propagators, is to use elaborate misting equipment. A smaller version of this can be purchased for the enthusiastic home gardener.
• Try to ensure that any flats or pots that you want to grow seed in are always as clean as possible. This is especially important if they have been used a number of times before. See GardenAdvice.co.uk demo sheet/seed sowing for further details.
Sowing Out in the Garden Tips
• Do your best to prepare the soil as well as possible by ensuring that it contains plenty of organic matter and that it is well drained. If your soil tends to be a little on the clay side, try digging in some sharp sand or grit.
• Make sure the soil has reached a nice fine tilth by raking gently.
• Avoid walking about on the soil too much, especially if it has been wet, as you’ll only compact the soil more. Try placing old floorboards across to make a temporary pathway.
• Water the soil well, both before as well as after sowing seed. This can be especially useful when you are broadcasting seed that you intend leaving to get on with it and you won’t be watering on a regular basis.
• Plant carrot seed fairly thickly if you find you have problems with germination. You can always use the thinnings as baby carrots.
• Parsley seeds are notoriously fickle. Try pouring boiling water on the seed when sown.
• Most wildflower seeds, such as primroses, will only germinate well in poor soil that contains very little fertiliser. If you are intending to make a wildlife meadow in part of the lawn, don’t add any fertiliser to that area for several months before.
See GardenAdvice.co.uk demo sheet/sowing seed for further details.