Seed sowing success
It's one of the most exciting moments in a gardener's year: you go into your greenhouse or peek at your windowsill to find the seeds you sowed a week ago shyly poking out little green sprouts.
Seed-sowing is hugely satisfying and an economic way to fill your garden in St Albans with colourful annuals, herbs and vegetables. Just choose what you want from the many packets you'll find in our garden centre.
To make sure you get those little plants off to the best start, follow our tips for seed-sowing success.
- Hold off till it's warm enough as seed sown in chilly soil sulks and rots. A constant soil temperature of about 7°C is a green light for most hardy varieties.
Prepare the ground well so seedlings can get their heads out easily. Remove weeds and stones, and rake soil into the texture of breadcrumbs.
- Sow sparingly to save the trouble of thinning out, and to avoid diseases spreading among overcrowded seedlings.
Don't sow too deep – about 1/2 cm is enough for tiny seeds; larger seeds can go in at 1cm deep. Sink really large seeds like broad beans to twice their depth.
- Sow in lines and then when your seedlings come up you'll recognise them. Weed seedlings growing between the lines are easily removed.
Sowing under cover:
- Use specialist seed compost as it's sterilised and fine-textured: soil-based John Innes seed compost, available in our garden centre, is ideal.
Sow in modules to avoid root disturbance and you can transplant seedlings without checking growth. Sow one or two seeds to each module and pot on once the roots fill the space.
- Water from the bottom to avoid disturbing the seed: half fill a tray with water and stand the seed tray in it till the surface turns damp.
Use tap water rather than saved rainwater as many fungal diseases are water-borne: tap water is relatively clean, keeping seedlings safer.
- Keep them cosy especially if they're tender: bring indoors at night, or heat your greenhouse to about three degrees above zero.
Please ask the staff in our St Albans garden centre for more information and advice about success in sowing seeds.