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Top MG tips for tempting seedlings


Top MG tips for tempting seedlings

We asked Garden Organic’s Master Gardeners for their top sowing tips to get you started growing food this spring. Here are some of their suggestions...

“Sowing seeds is like bingo: eyes down for a full-house!” Steve Penny

“When planting seeds with children, I recommend two seeds per hole to avoid those disappointed little faces.”
Helen Bronstein


Seed packets always describe perfect conditions for producing the best looking and biggest crops, but seeds can still grow perfectly well without matching these requirements and will give good yields at less than the recommended spacing.”

Derek Miller

“I sow in modular trays, pots or plugs as it is much easier to look after my seedlings when they are not sown in situ.”

Keith Wellsted

Seed packets often contain far more seeds than you use, so why not swap your spares with others to get a wider range of varieties? Also remember that as seeds get older, less will germinate, so sow larger quantities than you did when the seeds were fresh.”

Paul Sanders

“A good rule of thumb for how deep to sow: make a hole twice as deep as your seed.”

Alex Collings

“Sow some beetroot in groups and others spaced out. When they grow, you can choose a bunch of small beetroot or individual bigger ones.”

Terry Patterson

“Create a propagator with a takeaway container as a base and another plastic container as the roof. Place it in front of the telly to remember to keep the compost damp.”

Mike Wohl

“To grow scotch bonnet chillies, I use the seeds from fruit that I have purchased from a market or grocer. Wash the seeds in a plastic tea strainer, allow them to dry on kitchen paper; then germinate them on moist cotton wool covered in cling film. Pot up the sprouted seeds in compost and put on a windowsill to grow on.”

Phil Bannister

More top tips from Master Gardeners

  • “Sow peas early in the greenhouse in a length of guttering. You can then slide the peas into your trench without disturbing the roots.” Helen Kelly
  • “A heated propagator is a cheap and worthwhile investment, but pots on windowsills covered with cling film work well, provided you take this off once seeds sprout.” Adam Lee
  • “How about germinating seeds in the nice, warm environment of an airing cupboard? I tried it with aubergine seeds and it worked a treat!” Rosie Humphreys
  • “Only sow seeds when the soil is warm. Cover the soil with horticulture fleece or bubble wrap for a few days prior to sowing.” Ray Price
  • “For peas and sweet peas, soak the seed overnight and then sow them in paper pots which are particularly easy to plant out.” Maria Elena Brady

“Warm your filled seed trays in advance. Either in a propagator, airing cupboard, greenhouse, or on a windowsill. Then talk to them nicely after sowing! Grow seeds, grow” Ashleigh Rinchey

“Sow little and often. For vegetables that need to be harvested when they reach maturity like lettuce and cauliflower, sow small numbers but do sow regularly; two to three week intervals.” Paul Sanders

  • “Fill an empty cardboard egg box with compost. Put one runner bean in each compartment and spray with water. Close the box and look into it in three or four days. Monitor the moistness: not too wet, not dry. When you see the first shoots established, pot on or plant out.” Eulalia
  • “Always read the seed packets carefully. Not all vegetable seeds are best sown into pots or trays, for example beetroot, carrots and parsnips are very hard to transplant, so it’s worth waiting until your soil warms up in the spring and then sow directly into their permanent positions.” Karen Webb
  • “Jamaica Broad Leaf Callaloo: Sow in container and cover with cling film. Keep in warm conditions. When they reach 6cm, transplant to 7cm pots. When all risk of frost is gone, plant out 30cm apart.” Robert Samuda

For more tips and advice..

Article by the Master Gardeners, collated by Pauline Pears and Philip Turvil

Seed packets always describe perfect conditions for producing the best looking and biggest crops, but seeds can still grow perfectly well without matching theses requirements and will give good yields at less than the recommended spacing.” Derek Miller

“I sow in modular trays, pots or plags as it is much easily to look after my seedlings when are not sown in situ.” Keith Wellsted

Seed packets often contain far more seeds than you use so why not swap your spares with others to get a wider range of varieties? Also remember that as seeds get older, less will germinate, so sow larger quantities than you did when the seeds were fresh.” Paul Sanders

“A good rule of thumb for how deep to sow: make a hole twice as deep as your seed.” Alex Collings

“Sow some beetroot in groups and others spaced out. When they grow you can choose a bunch of small beetroot or individual bigger ones.” Terry Patterson

“Create a propagator with a takeaway container as base and another plastic container as the roof. Place it in front of the telly to remember to keep the compost damp.” Mike Wohl

“To grow scotch bonnet chillies I use the seeds from fruit that I have purchased from a market or grocer. Wash the seeds in a plastic tea strainer, allow them to dry on kitchen paper; then germinate them on moist cotton wool covered in cling film. Po up the sprouted seeds in compost and bring them on a windowsill.” Phil Bannister

“Sowing seeds is like bingo: eyes down for a full-house!” Steve Penny

“Warm your filled seed trays in advance. Either in a propagator, airing cupboard, greenhouse, or on a windowsill. Then talk to them nicely after sowing! Grow seeds, grow” Ashleigh Rinchey

“Sow peas early in the greenhouse in a length of guttering. You can then slide the peas into your trench without disturbing the roots.” Helen Kelly

“A heated propagator is cheap and worthwhile investment, but pots on windowsills covered with cling film work well, provided you take this off once seeds sprout.” Adam Lee

“How about germinating seeds in the nice, warm environment of an airing cupboard? I tried it with aubergine seeds and it worked a treat!” Rosie Humphreys

“Only sow seeds when the soil is warm. Cover the soil with horticulture fleece or bubble wrap for a few days prior to sowing. For indoors, save yogurt pots to sow seeds on a windowsill. Use kitchen foil backing to prevent plants growing leggy” Ray Price

“For peas and sweet peas, soak the seed overnight and then sow them in paper pots which are particularly easy to plant out.” Maria Elena Brady

“Sow little and often. For vegetables that need to be harvested when they reach maturity like lettuce and cauliflower, sow small numbers but do sow regularly; two to three week intervals.” Paul Sanders

“Fill an empty cardboard egg box with compost. Put one runner bean in each compartment and spray with water. Close the box and look into it in three or four days. Monitor the moistness: not too wet, not dry. When you see the first shoots established, pot on or plant out.” Eulalia

“When planting seeds with children, I recommend two seeds per hole to avoid those disappointed little faces.” Helen Bronstein

“Always read the seed packets carefully. Not all vegetable seeds are best sown into pots or trays, for example beetroot, carrots and parsnips are very hard to transplant, so it’s worth waiting until your soil warms up in the spring and then sow directly into their permanent positions.” Karen Webb

“Jamaica Broad Leaf Callaloo: Sow in container and cover with clingfilm. Keep in warm conditions. When they reach 6cm, transplant to 7cm pots. When all risk of frost is gone, plant out 30cm apart.” Robert Samuda

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