Grow your own – Early Spring Sowing

In this second blog post we will be taking a closer look at which seeds and where you may decide to sow during March. There are various options available to you during this early part of spring, including planting directly into your plot, containers or into a propagator which can generally be done on a windowsill, airing cupboard or in a greenhouse or shed.

If you would like to skip to your relevant section you can do so here;

Sowing into your plot

Sowing into tubs or containers

Sowing into a propagator

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Sowing into your plot

You can begin sowing a good range of seeds directly into the ground from March. Firstly you will need to prepare your ground if you haven’t already done so by adding a good quality compost and fertiliser to your soil, this isn’t essential if you have a good quality soil but we do recommend it to boost the success of your crops. Just before you begin sowing use a cultivator or garden fork to turn over your soil and break up any lumps. We have covered preparing your ground fully in our planning your plot article.

There are a range of seeds you can sow directly into the ground during March, some great choices include early carrots, ‘amsterdam forcing 3’ are a reliable early crop. Spring onions are a great addition to any salad and can be planted from early March. Another salad stable is the Cos lettuce, ‘little gem’ is one of our favourites. Also beetroot and radishes if your fancy something a little different. Once you have chosen your seeds it’s time to get sowing!

A top tip is to lay a narrow board down on the ground where you wish to sow your first line of seeds, you can mark the row using a short length of bamboo cane at either end and a crop label. Using a tool such as a planting knife create a shallow groove in the soil along the edge of the board, this gives you a nice straight line into which you can sow your seeds. Depending on the size of your seeds scatter evenly into the groove you have created. Once you are happy with the spacing of your seeds you can gently cover them over with a layer of soil and very gently compact the covering layer. For more detail on all these stages you can watch our helpful sowing into your plot video.

Sowing into tubs or containers

If you are limited by lack of space or poor quality soil, you can use a slightly different method using containers or tubs. It’s a good idea to add some holes to the bottom of your container if it doesn’t already have some, you can do this by drilling a few 5 pence piece size holes into the base. You can also add a layer of medium sized stones or even broken piece of terracotta pot to create drainage before adding your compost. Fill your chosen vessel with a good quality compost, you can find all our product recommendations including compost on the shopping list below. This may seem like an expense as you will need several bags to fill your containers however these can be used year on year with only the top layer need to be refreshed with a new layer of compost and fertilizer.

Next choose your seeds, carrots and spring onion have been tried and tested by us and are two on the best vegetables to grow in containers, however you can try container planting with a large range of vegetables, tomatoes and strawberries may be something to look to later in the season.

Once you are ready to begin sowing, fork in layer of growmore and a small amount of miracle gro plant food which feeds your plants for up to 6 months. Then use your cultivator to break up any lumps and turn over the top layer of compost, the seedlings will struggle to break through when there are lumps restricting them. You can now sprinkle over your seeds, check the back of your packet to see how thickly to sow. Once you’re happy that you have an even layer of seeds you can pass some compost through a garden sieve, to cover. Again if you have very small seeds you will only need to lightly cover them but if they are a large seed you will want a slightly thicker layer, a general rule of thumb when planting in containers is that the seeds need to be covered to the depth of the diameter of the seed.

Finally you will want to very slightly compact the top layer, a good way to do this is by using a tray which matches your container, these are worth investing in as they can also be used to cover your seedlings when needed to protect from frost, and heavy rain. We have made a video which covers all these steps here.

Sowing into a propagator

There are a range of crops that will require sowing in a propagator indoors before they can be planted outside. Some vegetables you may choose to start growing in propagators now are, chillies, tomatoes and sweet peppers. We suggest browsing our seed range to see which would best suit your growing area.

Before you start you will want the following products; propagator, small pots, seed compost, labels and a dibber. You can see our suggested products in the shopping list below. Unless you are planning to grow on a very large scale you will probably want to plant a few different seed varieties in your propagator, by using small pots it’s easy to do this.

Firstly fill your pots about 80% full with compost, tap down lightly. It is then a good idea to label each pot with its intended contents using a plant label. Now water your pots using a can with a fine rose twice at half hourly intervals, once this process is complete its time to start sowing. Pour a small amount of seeds into the palm of your hand, sprinkle around five seeds into the pot and thinly cover with compost, breaking up any lumps by hand as you go.

You can now transfer your pots to a propagator, we suggest keeping the propagator in an airing cupboard or somewhere warm for the first 2-3 days to encourage germination. After that you can keep them by a sunny window or in a greenhouse. Once they have grown to around 1.5 inches and have two leaves you can prick them out using your dibber. Insert your dibber well below the seed to make sure the roots don’t become damaged, you can then transfer each one to a 3.5 inch pot filled in the same manner as before however hold off watering until after planting this time. You can then leave them on a window sill to grow on before planting out into the garden. You can watch a video explaining this in more detail here - Sowing Into A Propagator.

Further information

We hope this has given you some inspiration to venture out into your garden and start your home grown journey, we have listed some products below that we recommend however we of course stock a range of alternatives. You will find links below to all our grow your own videos. Our grow your own videos are presented by one of our garden centre founders John Baker who has a wealth of experience in growing his own vegetables, these methods have been tried and tested by John and his wife Brenda for many years.

Shopping List

Plastic plant labels - £2.49

Waterproof marker - £3.25

Widger & Dibber - £2.25

Garden Sieve - £5.49

Planting Knife – £10.99

15” Container - £7.99

Matching container tray - £4.49

Large Tubs – 2 for £22

40 x 6cm seed pots - £6.99

Propagator – £6.99

Levington Multipurpose compost with John Innes (small bag)- £3.99

Levington Multipurpose compost with John Innes (large bag) - £5.99 or 2 for £10

Video Links

Sowing Into Your Plot

Sowing Into A Propagator

Sowing Into Containers

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