What you want for sowing seeds indoors has ideas and concepts to make this gardening job straightforward.
Though not costly to purchase, seeds can appear to require huge quantities of time, effort and the acquisition of sundry different gadgets out of proportion to their unique value. I’d prefer to discover this side, and recommend a couple of concepts for making sowing seeds indoors extra economical and extra enjoyable, much less chore.
Sowing seeds indoors consists of greenhouses, polytunnels, chilly frames and windowsills. Mainly wherever the place you can provide the newly sown seeds –
- safety from the weather – frost and snow particularly
- warmth – from numerous sources; non-compulsory for hardy seeds
To make this text as helpful as doable for you, there are hyperlinks on the finish to different useful seed associated Plews blogs.
From the place did you get your seeds?
Not a foolish query. I imply are they –
- industrial seed packets
- seed swap from a charity / organisation
- given / swapped by family and friends
- collected from your personal backyard
The explanation I ask, is that this: are you aware when to sow the seeds for the very best consequence?
As a result of, regardless of all the thrill in February and March, not all seeds are sown within the early a part of the calendar yr. Business seed packets may have some type of courting for when the seeds ought to be sown, and whether or not that is inside or exterior. The others might or might not have include directions.
In the event you’re unsure, you’ll be able to –
- ask the one that gave you the seeds.
- verify what sort of plant it’s: hardy annual, half-hardy annual, tender annual. Sowing seeds indoors when they’re hardy isn’t necessary. For half-hardy and tender, think about when in the summer they flower. Generally, the later they flower, the later the seeds are sown.
- check out any gardening books you may have; have a look at Plews blogs too.
- do an internet search – make sure they’re referring to UK climate
- ask me – via social media or email – always happy to answer quick questions! (links below)
Now we know when the seeds need to be sown indoors, what equipment is needed?
Sowing Seeds Indoors – Equipment Needed
List first, and then looking at these in more detail with tips and ideas.
- Seed trays, modules, pots, plus drip trays for same
- Dibber, hand trowel, soil scoop, scissors, trug, seed tray tamper
- Potting tray or similar (to retain the mess)
- Plant labels, pen / pencil
- Notebook / other means of recording seeds sown
- Propagator (optional)
- Thermometer (optional)
Seed Trays and Containers
All members of the pea and bean family benefit from growing in root trainers. These are basically tall seed pots or trays. As a cost effective and recycling note, the inner tubes of loo rolls and kitchen towel work well as a homemade alternative and can be planted directly into the ground with your seedling.
Half-size and quarter-size seed trays are useful for sowing smaller amounts of seed. Egg boxes are also useful for small amounts of seeds; when germinated the seedlings can be sown direct with the container.
Drip trays to go under the seed trays can be bought to fit your size of seed tray, or as a ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ you could use plastic meat trays. These are often the exact size as a half seed tray: perfect. See blog links below for some homemade pots ideas.
Dibber, hand trowel, soil scoop, scissors, trug, seed tray tamper
You don’t necessarily need all of these. There are alternatives for bought dibbers, and they are only needed for larger seeds. Scissors I find essential as being the least frustrating way of opening those foil inner seed packets!
Potting tray or similar
If you’re anything like me (and most of my students, friends and family) sowing seeds indoors creates lots of mess. In a potting shed this is easily swept up. But if the only space you have where its light enough and warm is at your dining table it could be a problem. Not so much the floor if it’s a hard floor, but some family members may complain at eating on a table recently used as a potting bench.
Try some of these tips to retain the mess and make tidying up less of a chore. If you’re going to be sowing seeds regularly it can save quite a bit of time.
Cover the table with an oilcloth, plastic cover, newspaper. Or all three to be on the safe side if it’s a lovely table.
Make or purchase a potting tray. These have raised edges with a higher back and can be wooden or recycled plastic. Wooden ones are easy to make (she says, on the basis of asking “are you able you make me…?” usually works)
If storage space is at a premium you can get folding ones of various types, some solid, some not.
Garden Teacher Tip
This is a perfect way to re-use one of those empty multipurpose compost bags: -.
- Cut along the bottom and one of the long sides so you have one opened out rectangle.
- With the long side facing you, fold the opposite side over to form a back edge. Weight this down temporarily.
- Fold over one of the short sides in the same way. Clip together the corner where it meets the back edge with pegs/ bull dog clips.
- Repeat for the other sides and corners.
- If you have a piece of wood to slip in along the back its helpful but not essential.
Plant labels, pen / pencil
Types of plant labels including recycled ones, are discussed in the 10 tips blog (link below). But whatever you use, the key thing is to label your seeds as you sow them.
Because if you don’t someone is guaranteed to interrupt you and then the puppy will come bounding in. And you will have forgotten which seeds from the pile of seed packets have been sown where.
Notebook / other means of recording seeds sown
You may feel that labels are sufficient, and they may well be. But it doesn’t harm to have a simple list of which seeds you sowed on a particular day. If nothing else it enables you to quickly check if they should be germinating. Germination can be 5 days to 2 weeks or longer, depending on the seeds.
A propagator will generate warmth underneath the seed trays. They can be really useful when you have an unheated greenhouse but certain seeds need the extra boost.
Garden Teacher Tip
If the top of your fridge / freezer gets daylight, this can be a sneaky way of giving some seeds that heat underneath they crave. Just put the seed trays (in gravel trays to prevent dripping) on top of the freezer. I do this all the time 😉 and find that a lid is useful too, for retaining both warmth and moisture.
Most seeds germinate best if the tray is covered with a clear lid to retain the moisture in the compost. These can be bought at the same time as your seed trays and half seed trays. or recycle clear containers.
Greenhouse Thermometer (optional)
Useful for knowing the temperature in your greenhouse and polytunnel whether you’re sowing seeds indoors or bringing in plug plants.
On a related note, you may need to add extra insulation for your germinating seedlings if a frost is forecast. Dry capillary matting and newspaper are two quick ways of adding insulation below.
Growing media for sowing seeds indoors
You will of course also need growing media, or seed compost for sowing seeds indoors.
What this isn’t, is garden soil. Whilst you can use garden soil, because conditions and seed requirements are different when grown indoors, it’s not always the best choice.
Seeds within their shells have most of the nutrients they need for their initial growth. Seed compost doesn’t need to be very nutritious, what it does need to be is free draining, to ensure that the seeds don’t rot.
We’ll go into growing media for seeds in the follow up blog on tips for successful sowing and getting to germination.
Hopefully I’ve helped you with sowing seeds indoors. If the blog links and videos leave you hungry for more, you may like to consider a Plews Gardening Course, where we enjoy 1-2-1 practical sessions in your own garden. A mix of practical and theory (the “why we do things”) bespoke to you, your garden and what you want to learn. And we can transplant some of the sessions into 1-2-1 zoom calls.
For further gardening advice and inspiration, check out Plews Potting Shed blogs, including the selection below, and our monthly Tipsheet – You could come and find us on Instagram Pinterest and Facebook too.
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