Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Real Men Sow
A seedbed is an area in the garden that can be used to raise young plants and then transplant them to other areas. This has many benefits:
Why Should You Have A Seedbed In Your Garden
- Because seedlings are small and take up less space, the rest of your garden can be used to develop them. You can also cover it with cardboard or mulch to reduce weed growth.
- Seedbeds can be used to start plants, while other areas of the garden hold vegetables that are ready to harvest. The seedlings can then be transplanted once they have been harvested. This gives them an advantage for future planting.
- Seedbeds require less effort than planting everything in pots. Although I prefer to start warm-season crops such as tomatoes and peppers in containers, they are more easily moved indoors in the event of a late frost. However, a seedbed is ideal for cool-season vegetables.
Should You Plant Every Plant In A Seedbed
There are some crops that are not happy being transplanted. These crops should be sown in the place they will mature. This applies to most root crops, such as carrots and beetroot.
Brassicas (the cabbage-family) are recommended to be planted in a seedbed. If you’re careful, they can even form a stronger root-system if the taproot is broken.
The Ideal Location for Seedlings
It can be tempting to find a seedbed in an area of your garden that is not used by other plants. However, if they don’t get a good start, then it will not be worth all the work you have put into them later in the season. That’s why you should choose a position that is not too exposed to strong winds, but not too overshadowed. It is important to avoid areas that have been cultivated in the past year. The leftover tubers can sprout shoots that could uproot seedlings.
You can prepare seedbeds in a greenhouse, polytunnel or hoop house (for those of you in the US), as shown in my photos. This is particularly useful if the seedbed is being used to plant earlier, but the temperature of the ground will be lower than the pots on a greenhouse bench.
Preparing a ‘Fine Tilth’
Fine tilth is the ideal soil structure for seeds. It should feel a little bit like coarse breadcrumbs when you work with the soil. Forming the ideal soil structure would always depend on the soil type you have.
- Sandy soils need lots of organic matter, such as sifted and pressed compost to retain water well.
- Silt and heavy clay soils need to be broken down, followed by adding fine organic matter or mixing with lighter sandy soils. If the soil is still sticky from wet weather, it’s best to wait for it to dry before you attempt to prepare a tilth. A very dusty soil can cause a hard crust to form after rain, which is harmful for young plants.
Method of creating a perfect seedbed
- Remove all weeds and other debris from the bed’s surface
- In a wheelbarrow, combine good crumbly compost and additional soil
- Use one spadeful to spread the soil to the surface to reach a depth of approximately 10 cm (4 in). Good garden sieves have a mesh with quarter-inch holes and high sides to allow you to shake the soil without it leaking over the sides. It will take more time if you put too much soil at once
- Use a rake or a shovel to level the soil so water doesn’t run off but soaks in evenly. The back of the rake works better than the prongs. Do not walk on the soil if you want it to remain loose
How Long Should You Wait With Your Seedbed To Start Sowing
Lastly, make your seedbed “stale”, which means you’ll be leaving it for at least 10 days before sowing. Doing this keeps pests such as onion fly or bean seed fly away because they are attracted by the smell of freshly disturbed soil. You can leave the seedbed for a bit longer to allow any remaining weed seeds to germinate before you sow the seeds.
How To Care For A Seedbed
The seedbed is like a nursery for young children. They will need extra attention and care to thrive. After the bed is prepared, place a beer-filled trap in order to eliminate any slugs. It is important to net the area if any cats, birds, or other wildlife might disturb it.
Although it may seem like a lot of work, there are many benefits to creating the perfect soil for your seeds. The seedbed is an important addition to any garden, and it is worth the effort.