Sunday, 10 April 2011

How To Sow Seeds In 6 Easy Steps

When I first started growing veggies, I had no idea how to sow seeds.  My lack of knowledge was quite crippling and was enough to put me off indulging in this wonderful hobby, but fortunately my hubby was at hand to help me through my seed sowing anxieties.  Once I had done it once and realised just how simple it really is, there was no stopping me.  However, it occurred to me that there must be plenty of veggie growing novices out there that don't have a clue how to sow seeds and could be put off growing their own veggies before they've even started.  My knowledge of how daunting this task can be, coupled with this realisation lead me to post this blog in an attempt to shed some light where there is currently nothing but darkness.

So, here are 6 easy steps to sowing seeds...

1. The first thing you need to consider is the quantity of each individual veggie you would like.  Once you have decided how much of each veggie you want, you can make a decision about how many seeds to sow.  You have to take into consideration the fact that some seeds probably won't grow and some may start but then turn out to be fairly weak in which case they could die or alternatively may need to be thinned out.  As a rule of thumb, I generally sow three rows of seeds for each veggie in my seedling tray.  Don't forget to check the back of the seed packet to ensure that your seeds can be sown at the time of year that your are planning to sow them.

2. Next, make sure you have your seedling tray, your trowel, your dibber and your seed sowing compost (or whichever compost you are choosing to use) to hand. 

A Dibber

Fill as many compartments of the seedling tray as you will need with compost.  Fill each compartment to the very top and smooth over.  Gently press the compost down in each compartment.  You will notice that you can push it down quite a way and what originally seemed like a compartment filled with soil will suddenly be closer to half.  Don't push the compost down too firmly at this stage.  Once you have done this, fill each compartment to the top once again and gently press down.  Keep doing this until the compartments all remain fairly full when you gently press down.

3. Next, you will need to check the back of the seed packet to establish at what depth your seeds need to be sown.  Once you have established this, get your trusty dibber and find the correct measurement on the side of it.  Use the dibber to bore down into the soil to the correct depth.  When I first started, I didn't have a dibber so I simply used a chopstick and estimated the depth. This worked well as a starting point, but now that I have my dibber, I can tell that not all my estimations were very accurate.  Nevertheless, it doesn't seem to have done any harm.

4. Once you have created your little holes, place your seeds in them.  How many seeds you should place in each hole varies from one veggie to the next.  I generally base it on size (I have no idea whether this is right or wrong but it seems to have worked for me so far).  The smaller the seed, the more I place in each hole.  Mint seeds are minute so I just place a pinch of seeds into each hole.  I placed two chili seeds and pepper seeds in each hole and only one pea in each hole.

5. Once you have placed your seeds in your holes, cover them up with the compost that you have already placed in each compartment.  At this point, press the compost in each compartment down firmly.  When you water the seedling tray, you will notice that the water will pull the compost right down so you need to make sure it's as compressed as possible so that the seeds don't become exposed at that point.  Top up the compost in each compartment as needed and press down firmly.  Keep doing this until each compartment is filled with compost.

6. Now, get your trusty watering can and give the seedling tray a gentle but generous helping of water.  Try not to have any kind of pressurised watering device (such as a tap) as this can cause the compost to move and scatter the seeds, reducing your chance of successful germination.  Once you have watered the seedling tray, give the water a moment to draw down.  You will notice it doing this.  Thereafter, add another gentle but generous helping of water.  This would probably be enough water, but you can make your own judgment call.

You have now successfully sown your seeds into your seedling trays and they will probably look a little something like the picture below.

All that is left to be done is to either place the tray on a windowsill, patio, greenhouse or whatever location you are intending to make their home.  The seed packet may indicate a temperature at which they should ideally be kept.  If so, try and find a place that you think would be nearest in temperature to the recommendations made on the packet.  You may want to consider placing plant labels in your seedling tray as a reminder of what has been sown and when they were sown.

Keep your eye on your seedling tray and water as necessary.  In time, you should notice your little seeds turn into sprouting beauties.

I hope this blog has been helpful in some way, shape or form and has taken you out of the seed sowing wilderness.  It really is a very simple process and doesn't take much time at all once you get the hang of it.  So don't procrastenate, get sowing as soon as possible.

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