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Article: Time to sow seeds!

Time to sow seeds!
seeds

Time to sow seeds!

January is a great time to plan your garden for the coming year.  You can reflect on what grew well during the last year and think about any planting gaps that need filling.  It is one of life’s little pleasures for us gardeners to browse the seed rack and dream about how green our gardens will grow this summer.  I don’t know about you but I always buy more seeds than I have seed trays to sow them in!

This article looks at planning ahead for the seeds that we know many of you enjoy planting, whether for their beauty, their produce or both!  Be wary of sowing seeds too early.  Whilst this tactic might result in flowers or veg earlier in the season, you are taking a risk that your seeds won’t germinate at a time of year with reduced heat and light.  If they do germinate, you will also need somewhere to protect them and let them grow away from cold weather until it is safe to plant them outside; their tender roots and shoots will be particularly susceptible to frosts or a cold snap.

Bedding and Border Plants

Many people like growing their own floral bedding plants because they feel they get more flowers for their money.

You can grow bedding or longer-lasting border flowering plants to suit every season.  Typically, winter pansy will see you through the winter and early spring months.  Late spring into early summer often brings petunias, busy lizzies and lobelias trailing across borders and hanging baskets.  Finally, late summer to the first frost are well served by border plants such as lupins, cosmos and penstemons.  Some borders plants are biennials – they will flower in their second year. Foxgloves (Digitalis) are one example so you need to sow them late summer with a view to getting flowers the following spring. 

Download our printable guide to sowing flower seeds here.

Find our complete guide to the care of summer bedding here.

Vegetables

Most vegetable seeds are sown in spring although some such as broad beans and asparagus can be sown in November for the year ahead.  It is usual to  sow tender vegetables and salad crops, like pumpkins, courgettes and tomatoes, indoors for the additional heat.  In the spring, with daylight increasing, this will certainly get them germinating more quickly than direct sowing but remember that your indoor-grown specimens will need ‘hardening off’ - acclimatising to outside temperatures - before you plant them out in their permanent positions.

Download our printable seed sowing chart here for the best time of year to plant your choice of salad and vegetable seeds.  Remember that you may want to sow several batches of the same seeds, between 4 and 8 weeks apart, to get succession crops of vegetables, particularly salads and carrots.

Herbs

There is something to be said for growing tender, ‘kitchen windowsill’ herbs – like basil, chives and parsley – all year round but the reality is that those seeds simply may not germinate in the winter, with less heat and light.  You will probably do better to plant a succession of small batches of the same seeds during the growing season to keep your windowsill stocked.  An established tender herb should survive on a sunny windowsill over winter if it is kept watered and not harvested too drastically!

Download our printable herb seed sowing guide here for the best time to sow them.

Find our general tips on sowing seeds here.

 

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