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Propagation: Some hints and tips for successful seed sowing

Sowing seeds is a lovely thing to do and so it should be.

However, we do need to take great care as everything for the coming season depends on us getting this bit right - so no pressure!! 

We are trying to create strong, healthy plants that will produce the best crops possible so here are some tips and hints on how to be successful gleaned from our experiences…

  • Alway buy good quality fresh seed, try out some reputable companies and stick with a good one you like. We have found Tamar Organics, Moles Seed and Kings Seed Direct to be very reliable.

  • Store the seed well in a cool dark place, in a plastic container with a lid to restrict oxygen. Some seeds keep fairly well, such as peas, beans and squash - but a lot don't so if you’re hoping to use last year’s, do check it keeps ok.

  • Only grow what you really like eating. Sounds obvious, but it's amazing how often we grow things habitually that we don't really like! Consider the effort involved and space you have - if you actually only eat parsnips on Christmas day, you don’t need a big row! Try growing veggies that are harder to source and higher value, such as fresh greens. 

  • Work out the right amount to sow. Seed packets give directions on plant spacing so you can work out how much to grow in the space you have available. Always grow a little extra but try and avoid sowing the whole packet just because it seems wasteful not too - in fact it’s wasteful to grow excess plants that use up precious resources. Sharing seed with others could be a way to use it up!

  • Try to find good quality compost. Always get peat free compost (peat is a precious natural resource vital for sequestering carbon, and harvesting it is extremely detrimental for the environment) and organic if you can. It is actually really difficult to find good compost in the garden centres and that can lead to really disappointing results. We’ve recently moved from Moorland Gold to Sylvagrow Organic which is peat free and well priced - you can buy it by the bag from Woodland HP in Sharpham, near Street. It looks quite chunky but the plants seem very happy and it retains moisture well.

  • When sowing in seed trays or pots, the conditions needed for most vegetables to grow well are light, moisture and some warmth. They need regular attention so be honest about the space you have available and time available to keep an eye on them. We grow almost everything in modules as we are not fans of ‘pricking out’ from trays, but either method can work well. Always water seeds in and keep them moist (in hot weather they can need watering 2-3 times a day!) but take care not to overwater. If they are sitting in the tray for too long they might need a light feed of something like seaweed liquid. Ideally aim to plant them out as soon as they are ready.

  • Certain vegetables grow much better when sown direct as they don’t like to be transplanted, these include carrots, parsnips and beetroot. I always sow mustards and rocket direct as they grow close together so it simply saves a lot of time. The ground needs to be warm enough for germination, which in Somerset means April or later. Covering with fleece can really help early sowing and they must be watered regularly until they pop up. Prepare the soil so it is fine enough for small seeds and make sure you put a label in the ground to mark the sowing.There is a lot of information online on the right spacing for different crops - it’s very common to over sow and then either have to waste time thinning out or forget and have crowded crops! 

  • Don’t forget that many crops need to be grown in succession - this is really worth doing and we recommend planning this and putting in your calendar. We sow salad every 3 weeks as commercial growers. That would be too much for most home gardeners, but try and do 3 or 4 sowings per year to avoid disappointment.

Happy growing!

And…. if it all goes wrong, we'll be here to back you up with our delicious fresh seasonal produce! (Psst, did you know we're offering veg boxes this year?)


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