My diary is telling me that it’s week 10, and the majority of my hardy and half hardy annual seed sowing is done between weeks 10 and 15, (the beginning of March and the 2nd week of April) so i’ve plenty to be getting on with. Here’s some details of some early things that i’ve already sown
Here are my top tips and kit that I use
Growing medium. I use Sylvagrow peat free compost. As a professional, I check the watering of my plants everyday so I use a peat free compost that I buy a few bags at time. If you don’t check the watering every day, you may need to use a compost with wetting agents in them. Even I don’t sow enough seeds to merit buying a Pallet each year, and I like to get fresh compost that hasn’t sat and got soggy and compacted. I have good local suppliers at RHS Wisley and Ripley Nurseries, and My Mum and Dad have Doves Barn Nursery near them.
Sieve or Riddle. There may be obsessive tendencies here given how much I sow, but I find that by sieving the compost to get rid of the slightly larger particles, I get rid of any possible air gaps, and get excellent germination.
Vermiculite. One of the questions I get asked the most is should seeds be in light or dark. Vermiculite is the best of both worlds, it will hold down the seeds that like being on the surface ensure that water droplets don’t spatter seeds out of the tray, and I find I get a lot better germination now so I use it for almost all of my seeds
Seed trays and modules. Even though I’m growing enough for plants for 10 metre beds you can fit a lot of flower seedlings in a seed tray, so I either use half or quarter seed trays (like above) or I use windowsill propagator trays. (This is what i’ll be using on tomorrow’s sold out Grow your own workshop)
The depth of the module or tray is quite important for some seeds, so getting deeper trays gives you extra time to get the pricked out and potted on.
Seeds. This can be the most expensive part if you get it wrong, and I spend a lot of money on seeds each year, so I want to get it right. I have some companies that are my favourites. Moles seeds are great for cut flower varieties, but the seed packets are wholesale sized, so may be too big for you in your garden. So Higgledy Garden would be who i’d recommend next. (Sorry Ben, not photos of your seeds, as their lovely paper envelopes get written all over, and that doesn’t make for tidy photos! - top market for sustainability tho’) For sweet peas and amazing advice at RHS shows, plus (in my experience over 5 years) 100% germination rates I recommend Johnson’s Sweet Peas (Philip is who’s given me wonderful advice over the years to make sure I have sweet peas flowering from April until September) and if I want slightly more unusual varieties i’ll look at Plants of Distinction (All of these have been used by me, and i’ve paid full price for seeds as publicised, and i’m not being asked to recommend them!!!)
Labels. Try as I might, I’ve not found an alternative to a plastic label. We’ve tested many things over the years, (reusing cutlery, Lollipop sticks, plastic milk bottles) but only plastic labels and HB pencil work to keep plants named for over a year. As names and dates are so important to us, we make sure we reuse the labels, and use an eraser to take off and replace the pencil marks when needed.
Watering can. A can with a fine rose is important. When I taught watering to the children at gardening club (many moons ago now) i’d compare watering little plants to having a shower, and big plants to having a bath. The little plants and germinating seedlings need a fine shower, the plants big enough to be planted out need a tap drenching at the roots. This is a pic of my favourite watering can. I did try some metal cans, but they didn’t last long.
Over the next few weeks, i’ll be detailing what I sow on my social media feeds, so do give me a like on Facebook, or a follow on Instagram.Today’s sowings included Ammi, Daucus, Late Antirrhinum, Briza Media grass, and More Cynoglossum (as I was a bit light handed with the seeds last week and don’t have enough for a full row)
When you’ve got together all the kit, here’s how to sow the seeds (this video is me sowing seeds in the autumn but it’s the same now)
Our next workshop at the farm is a grow your own from Cuttings. and the next Seed sowing date is in the Autumn (let me know if you’d like to get together a group for a bespoke course)
Here’s some of our keen group last week, their seedlings should now have germinated and they’ll be ready to prick them out.