Growing from seed

One of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I know as a gardener, is when I sow tiny insignificant seeds and watch as they quickly germinate and grow into a wonderful array of colourful flowering plants or a tasty crop of delicious vegetables.

Ask any gardener and they will agree with you that the sense of achievement is tremendous.

Today in the UK there are over 85 million packets of seed sold annually and literally thousands of varieties available from dozens of companies, so the choice is endless.

There are a number of advantages of sowing you own seed against buying ready grown plants. The biggest being the choice of varieties available to you that are not commercially grown as young plants and you can grow all sorts of novelties and choose single colours instead of just the popular mixtures. In many cases the cost will be far cheaper, although this will depend on the number of plants that you require.

When making your decision on which plants to buy and grow from seed, you should pay particular attention to each varieties cultural requirements. These are either printed in the seed catalogue or on the reverse of the seed packet and will determine whether you are able to grow the seeds yourself.

Although some seeds do require specialist-growing techniques, you should bear in mind that the majority are very easy to grow. When growing seeds, you will either need to sow the variety in seed trays and transplant later to their final position, or in some cases you will need to sow directly into the ground where they are to flower.

When buying seed ensure that you choose a reputable seed company and only open the packet when you are ready to sow. Try and avoid using old packets of seed, as the germination may be poor.

You should sow seeds either into pots or seed trays that are a suitable size for the amount of seed you are sowing. Any pots or trays used should be clean and only use fresh compost that is suitable for seed sowing.

After sowing, your seeds need to be given the perfect conditions for germination, which will be stated on the seed pack. Maintaining the right temperature, having adequate ventilation, maintaining humidity and supplying good indirect light is the key to success.

The compost should be kept moist, but not too wet and ensure the temperature in any propagator, if used, is correct.

When your seedlings are big enough to be handled they should be pricked out and potted into pots or larger trays to grow on, eventually being hardened off in cold frames to prepare them for life outdoors. Seed grown on a windowsill should be moved to a cooler room or porch before being stood outside for a few days prior to planting in the garden.