Not too early, not
too deeply and not too thickly are the golden
rules. Proper timing is extremely important. The
calendars here will give you approximate times
but your own soil and weather conditions must
determine the precise time. Seeds will germinate
only when the temperatures are high enough to
allow growth to begin – sowing in wet and
near-freezing soil is bound to lead to disaster.
Mark out the row with a length of taut string.
With a stick, trowel or the edge of a hoe draw
out the drill to the depth recommended for the
vegetable to be sown. Feel the soil at the bottom
of the drill – if it is dry, water gently
through the rose of a watering can. Sow seed as
thinly as you can along the row. Do not do this
directly from the packet – place some seeds
in the palm of your hand and gently sprinkle between
thumb and forefinger. Fine seed should be mixed
with sand before sowing.
When the drill has been sown, cover the seed by
gently replacing the soil with the back of a rake.
If you are not skilled at this operation it is
better to forget the textbooks and push the soil
back with your fingers. Firm gently but do not
water. If the weather is dry then cover the surface
The recent technique of fluid sowing allows you
to give vegetables an early start. The seeds are
germinated indoors on moistened paper and then
they are mixed with a jelly-like material. The
usual base is fungicide-free wallpaper paste,
and the sticky mixture is poured into a plastic
squeezy bottle and the nozzle replaced. Alternatively
a small plastic bag can be used with one small
corner cut off to form a ‘nozzle’.
Squeeze out the jelly/seed mix along the drill
and cover with soil in the usual way.
Large seeds, such as sweet corn, marrow and broad
beans are sown in the drill or in holes dug with
a trowel or dibber at the stations where they
are to grow. It is usual to sow 2 or 3 seeds at
each station, thinning all but the strongest seedling