Introduction to Growing From Seed

The thought of trying to grow from seed can be overwhelming (especially if it is your first time) but there are so many reasons to give it a go. While there are some things to learn, overall it is an easy and rewarding experience. There are some great advantages to growing your plants from seed. There is greater diversity in terms of what you can grow, and you have control over how the seedlings are raised (especially important if you are committed to organic growing). The first step is to choose what you would like to grow. It is important to pick something seasonal and that will thrive in your climate. Once you have decided what you want to grow, pick your container. You can buy seed trays and pots or for a more sustainable option you can use yoghurt containers, toilet rolls or even egg cartons, just make sure it has drainage holes. It is important to keep your seeds moist and within the temperature range they need for germination. If you fail to keep your seeds moist and the soil dries out it is likely that the seeds will not germinate. Seeds can take between 5 and 21 days to germinate. Once your seeds have germinated, put them in a place where they will get direct sunlight, at least 6 hours a day. Make sure you label so you know what you have planted. 

What Should I Sow My Seeds In?

You can sow seeds directly into your garden beds, although sometimes due to climate or space limitations, this is not an option. Carrots, Corn and Legumes should be direct sown if possible. If you can’t direct sow, starting your seeds in containers is an excellent option and has significant benefits in terms of controlling moisture and temperature. You can use basically any container to start seeds in as long as it is at least 3 inches deep and has drainage holes in the bottom - anything from a yoghurt container or a toilet roll to a specifically designed seed tray or cells will work. You can buy seed raising mix from any gardening centre that will be suitable for raising your seeds in or you can easily make your own with a mixture of compost, coir and sand. Generally, store bought seed raising mix not that great so I like to make my own to get the best results. I would recommend pre-moistening the seed raising mix before planting in it. 


DIY Seed Raising Mix

2 parts compost 

1 part coco coir 

1 part sand 

1 part aged sheep manure 

Add all elements together and mix very well. Try and make your seed raising mix ahead of time and let it sit, covered for a few days before using it. 

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How Do I Sow My Seeds?

Not all seeds apply the same sowing method so it is important to follow the instructions on your seed packet to get the most out of your seeds. For example, some seeds need light to germinate whereas others need darkness. Specific requirements should be located on your seed packets. 

Fill your container with seed raising mix. Once filled, plant your seeds at about double the depth of their own size. If the seeds are particularly fine, you can sprinkle them on the surface and then lightly cover. Give them a good misting of water and you're good to go. 

Where Should I Put my Seed Trays/Pots Once They are sown?

If you are starting seeds indoors, you should put them in a place where they get direct sunlight. There is no need to move them outdoors at this stage. You may like to use an outdoor Greenhouse or if you live in a warm climate you can even leave them outside (although make sure they are protected as pests love them!). 

How Do I Water My Seeds?

Your aim with watering is to keep the seeds moist but not wet. You can use a spray bottle to water your seeds/seedlings from the top or alternatively you can water seedlings from underneath by pouring water into a tray etc. For about 30 minutes a day, if you place your seed raising trays in a tub of shallow water, they will be well watered and stay moist and you will avoid spreading disease. 

What Do I Do Once My Seeds Germinate?

Once the seeds germinate, it is important to keep them moist and in direct sunlight. If your seedlings are not getting enough sun, they will get weak and leggy. Keep on watering as you did when they were seeds. 

It is important to get them into the garden or pot them on if they start to outgrow their tray or pot. I like to transplant once and go straight from their initial pot into the garden but if this isn't possible for you then you can pot them on into a bigger pot and plant them out at a later date. 

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