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The Gardening Coach

Catharine Howard is the Gardening Coach. Contact her for gardening advice and visit for more information.

10 tips for seed sowing for the Allotment

The idea behind sowing into pots and the like, is to steal a march on the seasons.  Since outside is  Narnia, it is the only way to garden at all at the moment.  You do not need a greenhouse.  Below are 10 handy tips:

  1. Just remember what a seed needs to bring it out of suspended animation and germinate:    water, light and warmth.
  2. Once sown, the seeds will need either a sunny  window sill or an electric propagator.
  3. The quality of the growing medium is important.  A free-crumbling seed compost is necessary.  I can recommend Levington’s John Innes seed compost or Westland’s Growsure.  Steer away from those rubbishy ones that have bits of old doormat in them.

4. Choose the right containers to sow into.  Half sized seed trays (20 x 15) are very handy  for fine seeds such as herbs and salads.and then 9cm pots for big individual seeds like cucumber and squash.  Members of the bean family (Fabaceae) are best off in long root trainers, which can then get planted direct into the ground later. (Old loo rolls do the job to perfection).    Last of all there is small flat disc called a Jiffy pellet which is perfect for individual small seeds;   broccoli, tomato and sweet corn.  Soak to rehydrate and place one seed in the middle.

5.Open seed packets with a sharp knife – especially the inner envelope.  Make a fold in the paper’s edge.  This will make it much easier to control the slow flow of seeds.

6.Sow slowly and with care – newly germinated seeds will be in direct competition with one another.  Do not over sow and also go for a regime of successional sowing, little and often.  I aim to sow seeds once a month.

7. Be calm and organised, put an hour aside, take your radio out to your shed or table and get lost in the process.

8. Label all pots with the  date and plant type.

9.Water all new sowings well.  Make sure you have a fine mist spray and  check every morning to see if pots need a light wetting.

10. Nurture.  If you have lids – propagator or similar tip out surplus water.  If you are using a propagator, remove the new plants to somewhere cooler once they have germinated.



5 comments to 10 tips for indoor seed sowing for the Allotment

  • GeeGee Parrot

    Hello Catherine and to all your other readers.
    And it is a very chilly Narnia out there!
    Why does my iPad take evil delight in telling me when the temperature drops below zero?
    When it is as grim as it is today with frozen ground and snow falling, indoors with good Blogs, such as yours, is certainly the best place to be.
    But with multiple seed trays and buckets full of bare rooted fruit and rose bushes in the ’sitting’ room, my home is a bit crazy at the moment! One daft Black Currant bush even has tiny flowers buds growing, it obviously has NO idea yet about the real world out there.
    Keep those fingers warm by Blogging! Thanks, GeeGee Parrot.

  • Good advice well explained. Thanks.

  • Dear GeeGee Parrot There is a nectarine tree that keeps coming into the house: In a pot waiting for the weather to clear. Almost surreal

  • What a scrupulously clean sowing kit – especially the radio. I aspire to those levels of cleanliness. I make such an effort as well; I even take pots etc indoors to give them a thorough wash in comfort (not a popular move as every surface ends up covered in bits of plastic sowing kit). It was so cold last weekend, I smuggled a bag of compost into the house for a spot of comfort sowing. Very funny comment about old doormats by the way – I always wondered what those bits were.

    Does your homing nectarine fruit well?

  • I have a potting up area actually in my house!! I must be mad but in this cold weather I can still garden without getting my fingers cold :)

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