by Janis on 25th March 2022 / 0 comments

The hours just disappear

Now that my potting shed has been re-organised and relatively tidy, it’s time to start sowing my seeds for some summer colour in our English country garden. I love sowing seeds; it’s very therapeutic and quite calming.

As usual, I always go overboard and buy far too many. The problem is that when you see all the different varieties and the swathes of eye-catching colours, it’s so difficult not to buy them.

A seed cell insert is ready to be filled in the tray tidy in our well organised potting shed
Starting to pot up

The other issue is that once they start to grow and their tiny little heads break through the soil, I want to nurture them all. I know that I should be more ruthless and thin them out or just plant a few of each or even just pot on the stronger ones, but I feel guilty.

Although what I must say in my defence, some packets of seeds don’t just have a few seeds or even 10, 20 or 30; some packs have thousands. They are such tiny seeds that you can’t separate them, and then I end up sowing way too many.

Creating a nourishing compost

Do you use seed trays or pots?

There are many different combinations of compost on the market; in the past, I have used compost, especially for seedlings. However, I have found that using peat-free multi-purpose compost mixed with vermiculite or perlite works as well. The seedlings germinate very healthily, I also sieve the compost that nestles on the top of the seeds, so it is a very fine layer for them to grow through.

As I have the space in my potting shed, I use a potting tray to blend up my compost mixture and fill up my propagation trays. I find it ideal as it keeps down the mess, and you can easily fill up your seed trays and pots within it.

I use a combination of propagating methods, including cell seeding trays, deep root trainers and individual pots. As the seeds grow stronger, I then transfer them into larger pots. This year, I’ve also bought some biodegradable pots, which should be a good trial. A tip that I’ve also seen, and one I’m going to give a whirl, is using the cardboard tube from a toilet roll.

I still have quite a few seeds from previous years’ sowing, which are now out of date. It’ll be a good experiment to see if they come to fruition. Watch this space.


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Sunflower seeds are sown in a labelled seed cell insert in the tray tidy in our potting shed.
Sunflowers sown in our potting shed

Labelling my seeds

It could be a revelation

Now, I don’t know if you are the same as me. Still, as I like sowing many different varieties of plants, I often propagate a combination in one seed tray and label the cells in rows. This can become a bit onerous if you use individual pots. You certainly don’t want to write a label out for every container, so you’ll end up with RSI.

Well, here’s my tip – Firstly, it involves purchasing a cheap bag of mixed coloured elastic bands. If you place a label in one pot and wrap an elastic band around it, and then every other pot that contains that variety of seed, put the same colour band around them, et voila! You’ll then be able to identify them.

Rows of mini plastic pots with coloured elastic bans fitted to them to help identify the seeds sown
Using coloured elastic bans on mini plastic pots

My next tip or piece of guidance is ensuring you use a permanent marker when labelling your seeds; I found this out to my detriment. After sowing my seeds, I wanted to ensure they were sufficiently watered, so I laid them on the lawn and used a delicate setting on the hosepipe. Yes, you can see where this is heading, and the names of the seeds washed off.

Luckily, I did a couple of trays at a time, so I only had to deduce the smeared ink from a few labels. It was extremely frustrating, but hey, you live and learn.

Finding that perfect spot

It’s now a waiting game
Now that many of my seeds have been sowed, it’s time to let them germinate. It’s still a little too cold of an evening to put my seeds into my cold frame, so they are going to take over our conservatory for a few weeks. But of course, any indoor sunny window ledge is perfect.
The little green plastic digital thermometer displays the high and low, as well as current, temperature in our cold frame
My garden thermometer in our cold frame

I’ve just splashed out on a digital thermometer for conservatories and greenhouses. The digital thermometer displays the current temperature, and the maximum and minimum reached. I’ve placed it in the conservatory at the moment so I can get an indication of temperature, and it’ll help me understand when I can move the seedlings to the cold frame.

Now it’s a waiting game; I wonder if I should play some classical music to them, you never know, it may help them along.

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