March is traditionally the time when many of us start to sow tender crops under cover and hardy ones outside.
Sowing outside saves time and money (no compost, trays or heat) and is ideal for very hardy crops, especially root crops such as carrots and parsnips which resent root disturbance.
1. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and raking to a fine tilth. Incorporate 56g (2oz) of general fertiliser per sq yd/m a week poor to sowing.
2. Before sowing ensure that the sort temperature is around 7C (45F) and is not too wet.
3. Sowing is straight rows allows you to tell the weeds from the crops as the seedlings germinate.
4. Label rows clearly and make a note in your crop diary of what was sown where and when. Also note the weather conditions.
5. Mark the stick used to make your drills at half inch or 1cm intervals using a permanent marker or saw cut. This helps you to ensure that seeds are planted at the correct depth according to the seed packet.
6. In dry weather water the base of the drill prior to sowing to provide the seeds with plenty of water for germination.
Sowing inside allows you to get a head start by sowing earlier than is possible outside in the cold soil.
1. Clean the glass or polythene covering your structure to allow maximum light penetration.
2. Always use dean trays or pots and fresh compost. If reusing old containers, wash them thoroughly in a household detergent and rinse thoroughly before use.
3. Sowing compost or multi-purpose compost is ideal for your seeds. Always buy fresh stocks at the beginning of the year for sowing to ensure the compost is at its best.
4. Larger seeds (which contains most vegetables) separately right into their own cells or pots to prevent root disturbance.
5. Water kept in tanks and butts may contain diseases for example damping off.
6. Label your trays dearly to prevent confusion after.
7. A heated propagator is a real advantage when generating soft crops such as tomatoes, aubergines and peppers or when sowing in the season.
8. Maintain gentle warmth to suit the crops being grown, avoiding big variations in temperature.
9. Make sure that your young plants are thoroughly hardened off (acllimatised to outside conditions) before planting out permanently.
10. Water your seed trays or pots from the base if possible to avoid disturbing small seeds. Stand the containers in a tray of clean water until the surface of the compost is wet.
11. Once around 70% of your seeds have germinated in the propagator remove the lid and give them as much light as possible to reduce stretching and also humidity which may encourage disease.
You can try this informative post with interesting tips.
Before the really busy season of sowing, planting and weeding is upon us, take a little time to sit down and write some labels for the veg plot. It’s much easier to do this in advance in a warm, dry house!