exclusive pot sower

Being an Exclusive Pot Sower and Why I Never Sow Directly Anymore

Tonight I made my first outdoor sowing of the new season when I stuck a couple of rows of beetroot into my veg patch. Being big seeds with good germination, I’ve found beets very easy to grow, so I always sow them direct.

However, as I sowed this most reliable of crops, I realised something: I hardly sow anything direct anymore.

Aside from beets, the only other veg I could think of that I sow straight into the ground were radishes, the odd row of chard, and a few carrots. That’s it, which struck me as fairly odd given the amount of veg I normally grow each year.

The Olden Days of Sowing Direct
I used to sow lots of seeds direct, including peas, runner beans, mangetout, cucumbers, squashes, French beans, carrots, parsnips, and courgettes but gradually I’ve moved all these and more into pots of some type, and transplanted the seedlings onto the patch when the seedlings reach a good size.

Reasons for Change
This steady change in tactics has happened for a couple of reasons. I can sow undercover in the greenhouse and get a head start, before hardening off the seedlings and planting out. However, the main reason is that I’m very lazy when it comes to preparing good sowing soil.

I know that’s a terrible confession, but I found that sowing in pots was so much easier, and also improved my germination rates to the point where I could actually grow things with moderate success. For me, this was a much more reliable method of sowing, and took away a lot of the problems, like finding a way of getting the seeds to grow through that annoying crustiness you get on top of the soil when the weather is very dry.

These days, I even sow tricky transplanters like lettuces, carrots, and parsnips into half toilet rolls and risk unsettling them during relocation rather than sowing direct. This is useful for controlling weeds too, as I find small seedlings such as carrots get overpowered by weeds. This method also makes spotting tiny seedlings much easier.

The Downsides
Although I find sowing in pots is a lot less stressful, there are downsides. For example, I talked last week about the amount of money I spend on multipurpose compost, but sowing as much as I do in pots, then I’ve got to expect an emptier wallet. I wouldn’t spend anywhere near as much if I sowed more veg directly into the ground.

An Exclusive Pot Sower
At heart, I’m an old romantic. I do love the idea of raking a fine tilth and popping my seeds into the soil along a neat string line, but truth be told my results have never been much good. I know plenty of people who still enjoy sowing like this, but I can’t help think it makes veg growing life quite a lot harder.

I enjoy looking back at how my growing techniques have changed over the last five years, and this is probably the area where I’ve instigated most change. My plot can look quite bare at stages whilst it awaits delivery of veg for planting, but then again when the plants do go in, they’re neat and straight with no gaps. Plus, I absolutely love the look of my greenhouse this time of year, with pots and seedlings crammed into every corner.

For now, I’m very much an exclusive pot sower. Beetroots aside, of course.

6 thoughts on “Being an Exclusive Pot Sower and Why I Never Sow Directly Anymore”

  1. Me too Jono! I don’t think there’s anything I’ve direct sowed this year, including lettuces. I have too much trouble keeping the seeds moist, or dealing with heavy rains, or that crust that forms over clay-based soils, or birds eating the tiny greens — I’d much rather sow in pots and stick the well-established plants out there.

    Oh wait, I did sow peas in large pots, but a squirrel or chipmunk kept digging them up. I guess I’ll start sowing those indoors next year too.

  2. Hey Alan – the crusty soil is a pain. I get that too. One tip I did find was to sow the seeds and then cover with multipurpose compost, rather than the soil. This prevents the crustiness. I do this mid summer when sowing beets etc.

  3. Andrew Bradwell

    Me too apart from peas and beans. This year I have also started onions, shallots and garlic in pots. Also Half my spuds are in pots and bags. Makes life easier but don’t want to think about what I have spent on compost and pots

  4. Same here, Jono, except that beetroot are also on my transplant list. I sow these the same way as the peas: start them off in half-guttering and slide the plants, along with their sowing compost, out of the guttering into the soil once they’re big enough.
    I find I get much better germination rates, especially with the Burpees Golden beetroot and the sugar snap peas.
    Chard, spinach, radishes and turnips are about my only direct-sown veg now.

  5. Hey Zia,

    I’ve tried the guttering method with radishes this year, and they seem to have taken.

    Not tried it with beets though. This would make a much better way of doing it than how I have, thank you. 🙂

  6. Hmm, I might try that with the later sown radishes which for some reason never do as well as the very early ones. Always worth a try.

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