Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
I’m going to seed. I hope you will too. Gardening season is coming!
Everybody and everything starts out small. Me for example. I’m six foot tall, but it may surprise you to hear that in fact, I’ve not always been this size. I was once very small.
Coca-cola. The brand has over 3,500 different drinks brands (see if you can name more than 10) and their logo is recognised by 94% of the world’s population. That’s more than would recognise their own name. But it started off with a chap called John Pemberton who simply came up with a new recipe and walked a few doors down to the local pharmacy to see if anyone would like it. They did. That year, he sold 9 beverages per day. These days, that daily figure is up to a whopping 1.6 billion.
And all greatness is much more of an achievement when you compare it to its small beginnings. (That’s what I tell myself every day as I look in the mirror).
When it comes to gardening, while you can, of course, go to a garden centre and buy fully grown trees and shrubs in your garden, you’ll find that there’s a much greater sense of satisfaction in growing your own plants from seed. Not sure where to start? Here’s a handy guide.
1. Direct sowing
Most vegetables, as well as quite a few annuals and herbaceous plants, can be grown directly from seed:
- In advance of sowing, dig over the soil (dig and redistribute soil, to a spade’s depth. You can also add compost or fertiliser at this stage).
- Cover the soil with plastic or fleece to prevent weeds and warm up the soil.
- Make a shallow trench or depression and put the seed into it, then cover with soil and lightly pat down.
- Sow at evenly spaced intervals to give the plants enough space to grow.
- Check out our handy guides to find instructions for individual plants you are planning to grow.
2. Indoor sowing
For plants that have earlier crops or that can’t tolerate early spring temperatures and frosts, sow your seeds indoors:
- Spread the seeds in a clean shallow tray, larger seeds should be sown into a plug tray, which has individual modules for each seed, or into pots.
- Fill the container with compost, level and water well.
- Keep the tray on a warm windowsill until the seedlings are big enough to transplant into small pots.
- Before planting outside, allow the plants to acclimatise to the outdoor temperature by taking them outdoors during the day and bring them in at night. This process can take up to 2 weeks.
- In advance of sowing, dig over the soil and cover with plastic or fleece.
- Push the seedlings out of their containers from the bottom, and tease out any tangled roots. Plant into suitably sized holes and pack with soil.
- After transplanting seedlings, keep covered with cloches or plastic sheeting until the weather warms up to protect from low temperatures and frost.
3. Read the instructions
Most seeds come with instructions. They’re there for a reason. If you follow the instructions on when to plant, where to plant and how deep the seeds should be planted, you’ll give your seeds the best chance of success. You can also visit our Know How section to find instructions about growing specific plants.