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Sowing The Seeds of Love!

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

It’s only January 3rd and already I’m thinking of seeds! For me nothing beats the winter blues and withdrawal symptoms from gardening than; planning, sourcing and then starting off my indoor seed trays. Just the thought, brings back happy memories of the weeks and months last year watching the bare soil turn into green pinpricks and then tips and leaves emerging right in front of my eyes whilst still warm inside with my cup of hot chocolate!

Which seeds?

Sweet peas, Scabiosa, Pansies, Astrantia, Campanula and Delphiniums, can all be sown inside from January to April. If you fancy your hand at growing some veg then pick from; Aubergine, Cauliflower, Chillis, Salad leaves and onions. The choice of seeds to sow in February grows even larger including; Achillea, Aster, Chrysanthemum, Dahlias and Echinecea. Vegetables; Broadbeans, Broccoli, Brussels, Cabbage, Kale and many herbs are fine to sow in February. My favourites are sunflowers and Cosmos- for these you have to be a bit more patient and wait until March.

Which seeds to plant?

Getting started.

Start with three plastic seed trays- you will need both the under trays (without holes) and the trays with holes in. You can use trays with induvial compartments or open style. I personally prefer to use the open style for smaller seeds and the compartment ones for larger seeds. You will also need John Innes seed compost 1, three packets of various seeds. Take the tray with holes in and fill ¾ to the top with compost. Water lightly. Lightly compress the soil by placing the bottom of another tray on top. If you are sowing small seeds such as; salad leaves, Campanula or Delphinium, take the seeds, open carefully and sprinkle lightly across the surface. Cover the seeds with a very fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. For larger seeds such as sweet pea and broad beans push gently 2.5 cm deep into the soil at intervals. Cover with 1cm of soil and remember to label each tray with a stick noting; the date sown and name of plant.

Getting started planting seeds indoors


To germinate seeds need four easy elements; light (or dark for some), the correct approximate soil temperature, the correct humidity and just enough water. Most seeds need light so this is why indoor window sills (if you don’t mind them being used for this) are perfect or if you are fortunate- a heated greenhouse. Temperature- most seeds need warmth - 15-20 oC (60-68oF) which means above a radiator is fine. However some such as peas and Nasturtiums need cooler temperature for germination so keep in a porch or cooler location , but it must be frost free. Seeds have a wide range of temperatures that they’ll germinate in, so don’t fuss if you don’t hit it exactly. However, seeds take longer to germinate or may have poorer germination rates if they don’t have the best conditions.

When seedlings are large enough to handle, you will need to prick them out into individual pots, or 3 plants to a pot to give them more space to grow. Never handle the seedlings by the leaves, but loosen carefully from underneath, I use a teaspoon and un-gloved fingers, making a hole in the compost with the bottom of a pencil or a dibber to be able to lift them carefully into place. Water well until plants are established.

Thinning plants

Once all risk of frost has passed, acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over 7 to 10 days. A cold frame is a great way of doing this. Then transplant into final growing position.

Why grow from seed?

The advantages of growing from seed rather than buying plants are numerous; cost, environmentally , wider choice of plants and personal satisfaction. A packet of seeds costing as little as £1.00, contains between 12-100 seeds. Even after buying the trays and compost you are quids in and have much more plants. Environmentally - you know that no transport has been involved in the transportation of the plant, and the satisfaction of knowing that you grew the plants yourself is immeasurable. But watch out - you will get the bug and your window sills will never be clear again!

Planting seeds indoors


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