How To Plant And Start Seeds

How To Plant And Start Seeds

Gill Oliver gives tips on how to plant and grow different types of seeds, using seed trays, pots, seed compost and propagators.

Today, we're going to talk about how to start seeds. Now, the process is going to be the same, whether it's flowers that you want to grow, or vegetables that you want to grow, the basic premise is the same. All seeds need basically the same start.

Now, what you need, first of all, is a good seed compost that has the right mixture and the right balance of nutrients that the seeds will need to grow. You'll need a seed tray, some pots and a propagator. So, firstly, what you want to do is you want to fill your seed tray with compost, and make sure it's nice and moist.

If your compost is a bit dry, what you can do is just place the entire tray into a tray of water and allow the moisture to come up from the bottom. You don't want to actually soak the compost, you just want it to be nice and moist. If the compost is too wet, the danger is that the seeds will rot off before they've germinated, and that's the last thing you want.

So you need to make sure that your compost is nicely tamped down, so just gently firm it down, usually to about an inch below the rim of the seed tray. I've actually got some pepper seeds here that I'm going to grow, first of all. Seeds will come inside your pack which has the picture and some instructions on the back.

You'll get a foil pouch with your seeds in, and this means that the seeds will last for a long time, because they've been sealed and they've been stored in the right conditions. If you do have any seeds left over that you don't want to plant, then the best place to keep them is in a cool, dry place. And what you want to do is you want to space your seeds evenly throughout the seed tray.

I've just got six seeds here that I'm going to pop in and these seeds are actually large enough, I can see where I've planted them. I'm going to dress over the top with a little bit of compost, firming it down slightly, but not too much, you don't want to disturb the seeds. Now, you want to keep the humidity in, and you want to keep the warmth in, so the best thing to do is to pop your seeds into a propagator.

You can also cover the top with a plastic bag; that'll also help keep the humidity in. Going to pop the lid on the propagator, and you want to put that in a warm environment that's bright, but without direct sunlight, because that will make them dry too quickly. You want to keep the moisture there, but you don't want them too wet, because again, you don't want the seedlings to rot off before you've had a chance to transplant them into bigger pots.

Now, with larger seeds, you can plant them directly into the pot. Fill your pot with compost; again, tamp down a little bit, make some drill holes, you can either do this with your finger or with a pen. Now, I've got some sunflower seeds here; these are much bigger seeds than the pepper seeds, and all seeds will vary in size.

Nasturtium seeds are much bigger, whereas poppy seeds are so tiny that you can barely handle them. So, I'm going to pop the sunflower seeds into the little holes that I've made, and then just compost back over the top, top dress with just a little bit more, and like I said, this compost is nice and moist, so they won't need watering for a little while. And then also, I can put that into my seed tray under the propagator, because it will need exactly the same conditions as the pepper seeds.

Now, germination time will vary from seed to seed. You'll get an indication on the back of how long it will take for these seeds to germinate; usually it's within a couple of weeks or so, depending on the size of the seed. Some sprout practically overnight, but others, like I say, will take about a fortnight or so.

As soon as you see the seedlings popping up, if you've got a cover over the seed tray, you take that off, but leave them in the propagator, and if they're on a bright windowsill, you need to make sure that you rotate the propagator so that the seedlings get an even amount of light. They still don't want di