Growing plants from seed is very economical – one seed packet costing a few pounds may contain 100s of seeds – and, for a lot of plants, also very easy.

Seed packets give planting guidelines on the back. We are in a mild part of the country so can usually plant seeds from the early dates on the packet, or even a bit before.

Seeds can be planted in a wide variety of pots, from bought seed trays, to recycled yoghurt pots or takeaway boxes. Just make sure there are holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Seeds can either be planted in trays, and then the seedlings moved to small pots once they have germinated, or planted directly into small pots.

It is a good idea to buy some multi-purpose compost for starting seeds. Look for a version labelled peat-free, as peat bogs are an important carbon store, and extracting peat for compost releases this carbon into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming.

To plant the seeds:

  • fill the tray or pot with potting compost, moisten the compost until it is fairly wet and sprinkle the seeds on top
  • cover seeds with roughly their own depth of compost (i.e. small seeds need a very thin layer, bigger seeds a bit more) and sprinkle some more water on top
  • put the pot inside a plastic bag and place it somewhere warm
  • Keep checking for seedlings and as soon as any appear remove the plastic bag and place the pot somewhere sunny e.g. a windowsill.
  • Keep the soil moist

The more light that the seedlings receive the better, so choose the sunniest windowsill possible and keep rotating the pots so that each side of the seedlings receives equal light. Some plants can be moved outside to a greenhouse or sheltered position after a couple of weeks.

Some seeds that are not planted until early summer can be planted directly into the ground, or in pots outside.

Growing Tips Spring 2021