The process of growing plants from seed is a wonderful task to set yourself and with an excellent selection of seeds available in our Myhills stores, we’ve put together this list of top tips to ensure your seeds are successful.
1. Proper planning
To get the best from your seeds and to ensure you don’t miss out on particular growing seasons, make sure you plan ahead. Make a list of what you would like to grow and then do a little research. Find out when they need to be sown, when they’ll need to be moved outside and when you can expect flowers or harvest. By having it down in front of you, you’ll be able to see any cross-overs and plan your garden more easily. Would you want all your new plants flowering at the same time? If you’re growing fruit of vegetables, do you want to grow plants that will be harvestable at different times?
This initial bit of research will also help you plan what you need to buy, such as compost and pots or if plants can be sown directly outdoors, any tools or feed you’ll need.
2. Careful storing
When buying seeds, make sure to check the dates on the packet. Somewhere on the packet should be the date the seeds were packed, and some may also give a guide as to when to use the seeds by. Once you open your packets, any left-over seeds need to be stored correctly if you want to use them next year. You’ll need to reseal the pack and then store it in a cool, dry place. However, don’t leave them in a greenhouse or a damp shed as the frequent changes in temperature and humidity will damage the seeds’ viability. Also, don’t be tempted to empty your seeds into a jar or tin and leave them exposed to direct sunlight. If stores correctly, your left-over seeds should be perfectly good for next year.
3. Getting the basics right
Before planting, you’ll need to choose the right kind of pot and a compost that supports a ‘good start’. Opt for plastic pots rather than clay (as they retain moisture more consistently) and use wide, shallow containers to help prevent overcrowding of seeds, which will also help when it comes to planting the seedling out as their roots shouldn’t be as disturbed.
The type of soil you use needs to be fresh and sterile to ensure it doesn’t harbour any nasties – so it’s best not to use the soil from your garden. Use a potting soil that is designed for growing seedlings instead. Also, make sure you label your plants – especially if you a growing a variety that have different growing requirements – which will help ensure you’re taking care of each as you should.
4. Planting up
Before you go ahead and add seeds to your prepared pots, double check the packets to ensure you’re planting at the right depth. Some seeds can be sprinkled directly onto the surface but others will needs more depth in order to germinate. Once planted, cover the seeds with a thin layer of sieved potting compost and then gently and evenly push down on the surface of the soil to ensure a firm contact between the seeds and soil. After planting make sure you give your seeds a drink and to speed up germination, you can pop a plastic lid over your pot or cover it in plastic wrap. This will help keep seeds moist, but once you see green tips poking through the soil, remove the cover.
Once germinated, your seedlings will require plenty of light to grow. Place pots on sunny windowsills but make sure you turn the pots regularly (daily is best) to prevent the plants leaning towards the light. Some even suggest gently brushing the palm of your hand against the top of the seedlings to encourage strong stem growth. It’s worth a try!
5. Time to plant on
Before seedlings can be planted outdoors, they need to be hardened off or acclimated to direct sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. It is best to do this over a three-day period by placing them in direct sunlight during the morning only of the first day, then increasing their time outside by a few hours each day until they are vigorous enough to be transplanted. A cold frame is a great place to harden off plants.
We hope this has covered all the basics of starting from seeds but if you’d like any further advice or are looking to grow a specific plant, please do call us or come in store for more help.