Whether you are growing your own vegetables or creating borders filled with sweet peas and salvias, sowing your own seeds can be a satisfying – and wallet-friendly – way to garden. We offer ten top tips to encourage successful germination.
1. Seeds need three things to germinate. Heat, water and light. If any one of these is missing, germination will be poor.
2. Always use a good quality compost, like John Innes Seed Sowing compost. Start by putting on a pair of gloves and reworking the compost between your hands to reconstitute.
3. Always follow any special instructions on the seed packet relevant to the seeds you are sowing.
4. Fill a seed tray or pot with compost to just below the rim. Tap it down using a board or special levelling tool, then water the compost thoroughly and allow it to drain through.
5. Sow the seeds thinly and evenly over the entire surface. Cover lightly and carefully with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite. Water gently using a watering can with a fine rose attachment.
6. Keep the compost moist and do not allow to dry out.
7. Cover with polythene or a thin layer of glass until you see germination has begun (i.e. when you can see a sprout). Keep out of direct sunlight – placing in a mini greenhouse or propagator is ideal.
8. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, remove them carefully from the tray or pot using a dibber and place them in pots or trays filled with John Innes No1.
9. Always pick up seedlings by their leaves rather than stems to avoid any damage.
10. When the seedlings have established, pot on using John Innes No2. Keep them watered until ready for planting out into permanent positions once conditions allow.
Recommended Seed Sowing Toolkit
- Seed packets
- Seed trays / pots – fibre seed pots are available as an alternative to plastic
- Seed sowing compost (e.g. John Innes)
- Board / levelling tool
- Watering can with fine attachment
- Polythene / thin layer of glass to cover seed trays
- Mini greenhouse / propagator
- Follow-on compost (e.g. John Innes No.1)