Catch up with Claire;
I could jump for joy, it’s finally my favourite month of the year; March, and time to start sowing all the lovely seeds that I’ve been busily sorting out over the winter months. When I say sorting, I really mean rearranging. You see my seeds have been ready since November, but I just love spending time handling the small packets looking at the sowing dates, growing advice and visualising how lovely all the plants that grow from the seeds will look like once they are fully grown and in place in my garden and allotment.
I’m sure most gardeners and allotmenteers will readily admit they have a love for seeds. The gentle rustling inside the packets and the different shape and sizes of the seeds, are just some of the things that make seeds a gardener’s delight. As a homage to the month of March and seeds, I thought I would share with you my top five tips for sowing and some of my favourite things to sow in March.
I’ve made this rookie mistake loads of times. I just get in to the swing of sowing my seeds and forget to label them up. Then, I think I’ll remember what I’ve planted or think I will be able to tell what I’ve sown when they start to sprout. But, often I get it wrong and very much wish id just labelled them up in the first place. For the past few years I’ve been using my electronic label maker and its now become one of my favourite garden accessories. However, simple wooden lollipop sticks and a pencil do a fantastic job too.
It’s so easy to get carried away with seeds when they are sometimes supplied in such large amounts. But, overcrowding your seedlings by sowing seeds too close together can lead to plants fighting for water and nutrients when they begin to grow. With seeds such as radish, lettuce and kale you are usually supplied with hundreds of seeds in a packet, remember each seed that germinates will make one plant. I think a lot of my seedlings out, that cope well with root disturbance. I select the best seedlings to transplant on when they are stronger. For this reason, I usually sow three seeds for each plant. If in doubt you can usually refer to the seed packet that may give specific instructions for individual varieties.
It’s important to water little and often so the seeds can germinate. This will also prevent damage to small seedlings and will help the water to be evenly dispersed. There are lots of ways to do this, to start with I use a pressurised spray bottle to apply a fine mist over the surface of my seed trays. Once plants are further developed and can cope with larger amounts of water I use a watering can with a rose nozzle. However, some seeds and plants require different amounts of water such as chilli’s that originate from dry warm climates, so may not require as much water.
Its best to sow your seeds in warm moist seed sowing compost as cold conditions will hinder the seeds germination and, in some cases, prevent the seed from germinating at all. Sometimes it is a good idea to add a small amount of Vermiculite in with your compost to help with soil aeration and drainage. For most seeds, you can simply place them on the surface of the compost, cover over with a thin layer and then firm down lightly.
Weather your starting your seeds off in a greenhouse, polytunnel or on your windowsill it’s important that your seeds get the light they need to grow in to strong plants. If your seeds and seedlings do not receive enough light they will become spindly and possibly not develop in to the strong plants, you want. If you notice your seedlings start to bend one way towards a light source, it’s a good idea to rotate your pots daily so all seedlings get the light they need.
The seeds I’m most looking forward to sowing this march are Purple Peas, Swiss Chard, Marrow, Courgette and Runner Beans. For more updates from our plot and garden you can find us on YouTube by following this link https://www.youtube.com/c/purplesweetpea206.