Forum login

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

Leave a Reply


Sign up for email updates

  • Capability Boyle Posted on 19 May 2015
    ...
  • Helen Albert Posted on 19 May 2015
    ...
  • Meet the new Master Gardeners Posted on 19 May 2015
    A very warm welcome to North London’s new Master Gardeners, who completed their induction training at the weekend (16/17th May) and are now fully-fledged food-growing mentors. Th...
  • Lorraine Foster Posted on 19 May 2015
    ...
  • Jul 19th: London Permaculture Festival 2015 Posted on 12 May 2015
    Celebrate all thinks Permaculture at the London Permaculture Festival. Come along for workshops (intro and advanced), ‘how-to’ sessions, storytelling, films, a stalls market an...
  • South London Master Gardeners – 6000 hours of local advice and support growing food Posted on 25 February 2014
    We’ve had an excellent run under the Local Food funding. We’ve reached Yr 5, Quarter 2 of our programme. There was 3 year’s funding initially, and that was extended by 18...
  • Fiona Law Posted on 19 February 2014
    As the programme comes to a pause I thought I’d do a final case study on myself, before I move on. I’ve been involved in the South London Master Gardener programme sinc...
  • Extra Training Day – February Posted on 12 February 2014
    It was a most convivial and cheery gathering of the South London Master Gardeners, but just a little poignant. This was the last of the meetings under our Local Food funding. No ma...
  • Seed Swap and Growing advice Extravaganza at Crystal Palace Posted on 12 February 2014
    Lots of lovely interaction took place on 8th Feb – a wonderful kick start to the growing season of 2014! And in an otherwise blustery and hailing day, we enjoyed a couple of ...
  • Master Gardeners – with distinction Posted on 12 February 2014
    13 of our April 2013 cohort of MGs have been awarded the status of Master Gardener with Distiction. They’ve successfully supported communities to grow their own food, and met...
  • My first vegetable! Posted on 21 May 2015
    Yes, we all start somewhere and for me it was carrots. Why? Well that was simply down to the taste, lightly boiled, diced and with a knob of butter mixed in to bring out the flavou...
  • Master Gardener Leigh promoting benefits of gardening@work Posted on 20 May 2015
    Breckland Master Gardener Leigh is Breckland Council’s very own growing mentor.   The Staff Health & Well-being Budget (with support from The Staff Forum) helped to se...
  • Breckland Master Gardeners top up their school growing skills Posted on 19 May 2015
    Ongoing training and development is integral to the life of a Breckland Master Gardener, with seasonal learning events organised for our volunteers. This spring, the focus was on s...
  • Blueberries Posted on 14 May 2015
    I’ve always been a fan, since childhood, when I saved pocket money to buy “black tongue fruit pies”, but these where the European variety which we called whimberr...
  • May in the Garden Posted on 1 May 2015
    After Aprils mad rush of jobs you would hope for a slow down in May, think again! On top of all the other things we could do we now have grass growing so quickly that you need to c...
  • Jun 20th: Open Gardens in aid of St Andrew Hospice Posted on 6 May 2015
    3 gardens including mine in the village of Benniworth (LN8 6JW) Lots to look at in the greenhouse, polytunnel and the fruitgage. Teas and plant sales at a local farmhouse. All are ...
  • Lincolnshire Show 2015 – getting ready! Posted on 1 May 2015
    We’re getting ready – we’ve made 77 paper pots and put some Heritage Seed Library seeds in them – Why? I hear you ask – well, time will tell… Ar...
  • Park Avenue Community Garden Posted on 27 February 2015
    Hi, I am the project officer for a Community garden at Park Ave Louth which has been funded by the Peoples Health Trust and Groundwork Lincolnshire. The Project has been running fo...
  • David Higgs Posted on 27 February 2015
    ...
  • Helping communities grow – the impact of Master Gardener volunteers Posted on 16 February 2015
    Hundreds of Garden Organic volunteers have helped tens of thousands of people to benefit from growing food since we launched the Master Gardener Programme in April 2010. In Novembe...
  • Welcome to Somerset Master Gardeners Posted on 21 November 2012
      Garden Organic is delighted to announce our partnership with Somerset Community Food to support volunteer ‘Master Gardeners’ to help communities grow their own f...
  • A fresh start Posted on 11 November 2014
      Trying to beat a drug addiction is a huge challenge. Trying to detox whilst serving a prison sentence can be even more complex. But sometimes the simple things in life can h...
  • Blogs coming soon Posted on 9 February 2013
    Our programme at HMP Rye Hill begins in spring 2013. Please visit back soon for latest blogs. In the meantime, please click here to read Master Gardener blogs from across the UK Ab...
  • Case studies coming soon Posted on 9 February 2013
    Our programme at HMP Rye Hill begins in spring 2013. Please visit back soon for latest case studies. In the meantime, please click here to read case studies from our Master Gardene...
We’re creating a model to establish custom networks of volunteer Master Gardeners in more UK areas. More information available here.

Photos on flickr

RSS Links (via delicious)

  • something went wrong