Success with seed

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A plant seed truly is a miraculous thing.  They can lay dormant in the soil for decades at a time and as soon as conditions are favourable enough they spring to life, continuing the cycle of life anew.  Growing from seed is always such a journey for me, starting when you sow the seeds and culminating at your destination when harvesting your scrumptious tomatoes or admiring a bed full of cheerful annuals.

When sowing you will need the following: sowing tray; germination mix; pencil; mist sprayer; propagation case/glass pane; seedling trays; ruler and of course a selection of seeds.  With bigger seed it is advisable to soak them overnight in luke warm water as this will aid in germination.  I find it is best to sow more frequently but less at time.  This will ensure that you have a constant supply of seedlings.  Especially with veggies it ensures that you have a more regular crop and not a big crop with long gaps between the next.   

Let’s start by getting our germination mix in our trays.  Fill your sowing tray with germination mix or a suitable rooting mixture.  Normal potting mixtures are not suitable for germinating seeds as their texture is too rough.  Germination mixes generally consist of perlite, peat moss and vermiculite in differing combinations and one can easily make your own mix.  Then use a ruler or flat piece of wood to level your mix whilst taking care not to compact the mix too much.

Time to start sowing your seeds.  When sowing try and space the seed to prevent overcrowding of the germinating seedlings.  If small seedlings are overcrowded, they will become spindly and topple over with the risk of losing them.  When sowing very fine seed it is advisable to sow them in furrows which can be made by pressing a pencil into the mix to make a small indentation and then sowing into this indentation.  After sowing cover the seed with a fine layer of germination mix or fine vermiculite.  This will prevent the seed from drying out too quickly. 

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Instead of watering with a hose or watering can which will disturb the seed or wash away the mixture it is best to keep them moist by mist spraying them regularly.  Try to ensure that the soil stays moist, even being dry for a few hours will leave the seedlings shriveled and dying.  After misting cover the tray with a clear pane of glass or use a propagation case, this will help ensure that your young seedlings have the sufficient humidity they need to flourish.  As the seeds germinate and start growing, allow more outside air to enter by propping up the glass pane to allow for a slight gap through which the air can move.  

As your seedlings start growing you will notice that the first set of leaves are totally different from the adult plant and are called seed leaves whilst the next set of leaves that will form are the true leaves.  This is the perfect time to thin out your seedlings if they are very close together.   When transplanting seedlings it is best to lever them out of place using a pencil or small utensil and lightly gripping the seedling by one of the first leaves whilst avoiding handling the stem.  At this stage you can either transplant them into seedling trays or into pots to allow them to grow bigger before they get a home in the garden.  If you want you can sow directly into the seedling trays and thin them out as the seeds germinate.    

Time to let that seed germinate in your mind and you will find a whole new world of promise in your garden. 

Happy sowing.