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Seed sowing

It is seed sowing time. Most people remember to wash their seed trays but don’t forget to wash your watering can as well. All sorts of slime can lurk in there as well as the odd snail!  And when using the can, the rose should face upwards for seedlings giving an even, gentle shower. It is safer to use tap water at this stage.

Rub the compost out well, this incorporates air and makes pricking out much easier.  For small seeds, water first.  Count as large seeds anything you are going to sow individually rather than scatter. Seeds are living things – they need air. The bigger the seed, the more air it is going to need so add some grit or perlite to your compost for these.

The temperature in a small greenhouse fluctuates too much to germinate most things, so somewhere indoors out of the sun will be much better.  Vegetable seeds are fine in the greenhouse – they are much tougher.  Lettuce and spinach actually need the cold nights to stimulate germination.

Prick out as soon as possible, preferably before the true leaves appear. This gets them out of the low nutrient seed compost and causes less damage to the roots.  The seed leaves should be flat on the surface of the compost. This protects the vulnerable stem and encourages new roots.

In the old days when bedding plants were hand pricked out into wooden seed trays, the women did not get paid until the plants had grown satisfactorily. The seed trays were stacked to take them to the greenhouse, so if the seedlings were too high, there was no pay!