I started my allotment journey about 10 years ago and I reckon I must have sown hundreds, if not thousands of seeds since I took my plot on. Of course, this is a minuscule amount compared to other hardened growers. Their experience dwarfs mine, but as sowing season is just around the corner, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up I always bear in mind when I sow a row of seeds.
When to Sow and How to Begin Your Gardening Journey as a Beginner
Sow in Grooves
This is a development of mum’s super squash planting method and involves sowing the seeds in a little groove, rather than under a flat surface. The theory is that water stays in and around the seeds, instead of running off somewhere else, especially when the ground is like concrete.
Sow in Pots and Plant Out
It’s tempting to sow seeds straight into the ground, but I’ve found germinating in a small pot of multi-purpose compost much easier and far more reliable. This is common practise once you start reading around, but if it wasn’t for my mum guiding me at the very beginning, I’d have stuffed everything directly into the ground.
Sowing this way also means you can get a head start under cover when the weather is still fairly mild.
Sow a Spare Cluster at the End of Each Row
If you do sow directly, I find sowing a cluster of seeds at the end of each row provides useful back up for filling in any gaps. This is particularly handy for plants that don’t mind being transplanted, such as peas and French beans.
Cover with Multipurpose Compost Rather than Soil
I was given this tip as a way of preventing the soil crusting over and making life difficult for germinating carrots. When I watered straight after sowing the earth on top would go rock hard, and not many of my seedlings were strong enough to push through.
By sowing the seeds as normal, but covering in multi-purpose compost, the top is soft and light, giving the seedlings a good choice of breaking through.
Use a Rose Fitting on a Watering Can When Watering Rows
Yes, I sloshed a whole row of seeds away by pouring water over the soil slapdash stylee, rather than taking a more gentle, measured approach with a rose fitted to the end of my watering can…
Date and Mark Where and What You Sowed
When you’re a ‘yeah, I’ll do that later’ type of guy like me, it’s rather easy to not get around to inserting little seed markers into the ground. I do mean to do it, but I just end up sidetracked, struggling to recall what I’ve sown and how long ago.
Get to Know Your Seedlings
Knowing what each seedling looks like is very useful for keeping your row free of pesky weeds, ensuring that as many nutrients go into the seedling as possible. Some seed packets have images of the seedling on the back, but if not a quick Google should bring up plenty more.