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Sowing Seeds

How to sow seeds indoors and outside

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SOWING AND PRICKING OUT.
Use fresh seed compost, taken indoors a few days previously to warm, and fill the pots and trays loosely to the brim.
Firm it down evenly, paying special attention to the corners, with a tamper, or light block of wood – a small, round one for pots and a rectangular one for boxes.
Soak the compost thoroughly and let it drain before sowing.
Sow the seeds sparingly, spacing them as evenly as possible, and cover them with a thin layer of compost, about as deep as the seeds themselves.
After sowing, water with a fine spray. Sow fine seeds on the surface – they must have no soil cover or further watering.
Do not let the seeds dry out. If they need watering again while still in the propagator, stand the containers in ½ in of water to soak until the compost is wet on top.
Allow them to drain before replacing them in the propagator.
Cover the seed containers with brown paper or newspaper and a sheet of glass to help to retain the moisture and exclude the light. For seeds that require light, cover with a sheet of glass only. When the seedlings begin to emerge, uncover and transfer them in their containers to a cold propagator to acclimatise them to lower temperatures.
They can then be left on a greenhouse bench or an indoor windowsill.
Within a few weeks of the seedlings appearing they will need more space.
Transplant them, called pricking out, 40 to a standard size tray (8in x 14in), and 20 to a half-size tray, in John Innes No 2 or a multi-purpose peat-based compost.
For even better results, use divided trays, or pots, and plant singly. This will allow less root disturbance when the plants are finally planted outside.
To prick out, prise the seedlings carefully from the compost with a seed label or dinner fork.
Take care not to break the roots.
Handle the seedlings by the leaves, not the stem, and plant them to the previous depth.
Keep the compost moist.
When the plants are well established and a few inches high, transfer them to a cold frame for hardening off before planting them outdoors.

Sowing seeds outdoors
Hardy annuals and some biennials and perennials can be sown directly outdoors during warm spring weather.
Sow hardy annuals where they are to flower. Prepare the seedbed and mark it out in irregular blocks for each variety of plant with the point of a stick, taking into account their height, form and colour. Draw shallow drills (furrows) no more than ½ in deep, 4-6in apart across each patch, using the blade of a hoe or a pointed stick. Sow the seed sparingly, cover it lightly and firm down the soil with the back of a rake or the palm of your hand.
Sow biennials and perennials in shallow drills and move them to a nursery bed when they are large enough to handle. Plant them in their flowering positions in autumn.

See also: Propogating Seeds


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