by Janis on 12th April 2024 / 0 comments

It’s that time of year to get sowing

Spring has well and truly arrived in our garden. The mountain of spring bulbs we planted last autumn has now appeared, and the bumblebees are flocking in.

The arrival of spring also means that it’s time to start sowing my seeds for the seasons ahead. I love disappearing off into my potting shed for a few hours. With the birdsong in the background, I peacefully work my way through the beautiful assortment of seeds that I’ve selected this year.

Once again, I’ve chosen quite a variety. I’ve got some old favourites like cosmos, sunflowers, and foxgloves, to name a few; however, I’ve also gone for some Achillea, Rudbeckia, and canary creeper, a mixture of cottage garden flowers and patio climbers.

I have sown far too many seeds in past years, and I imagine 2024 will be no different. The trouble is, you just never know if they will all be successful, so I have to err on the side of caution and sow more than I need. Well, that’s my excuse anyway.


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A collection of freshly bought seed packets laid out on a white table
This year's seed collection
This year, I’ve also selected tomato and chilli seeds. We usually have a pleasing amount of success with these, so keep your fingers crossed for this year as well. We tend to freeze the chillies we don’t use, which last us through the winter and spring.
A close-up of a bunch of deep green Jalapeño chilli still on the plant
Last year's Jalapeño chillies

The benefits of vermiculite and perlite

The seeds seem to love it
This year, I am using a peat-free seedling compost mixed with vermiculite and perlite to grow my seeds. I have previously used peat-free multipurpose compost mixed with the two, and the success rate wasn’t too bad. However, this year, I’m just sticking with my seedling compost.
Sprouting sunflowers in a seed tray just a few days after planting
New seedlings

What are the differences between vermiculite and perlite? I hear you say, well, vermiculite acts like a little sponge, and when you water your seeds, the vermiculite soaks up the water and will keep your compost moist for longer.

Now, perlite is like tiny little pieces of rock and will act as an aerator to help drain some moisture away. It may seem mad using them together as they are, in essence, the opposite of each other; however, using them together is a winning combination.

Do you use seed trays or cell pots?

Or a combination of the two?

When I first sow my seeds, I tend to use a combination of propagating techniques. I suggest you try a few and see which you prefer, or like me, you can mix and match.

This year, I have started with cell seeding trays as I like the seeds to have a compartment for each, and if you lack the space for individual pots, then this works very well. In the past, I have also used deep root trainers for sweet peas, which have been quite successful.

Once my seedlings begin to grow stronger, I will transfer them to single pots to give them more room to stretch and grow individually.

Rows of mini plastic pots with coloured elastic bans fitted to them to help identify the seeds sown
Sowing in individual pots

I also use small individual pots. Once again, I have a combination of little plastic pots in shuttle trays and peat-free biodegradable fibre pots. I have used these biodegradable fibre pots for the last few years. These can be a little more expensive, but they are good for the environment, and I find they work well.

Or, if you enjoy a yoghurt or two, save your washed-out yoghurt pots and pierce a few small holes in the bottom, et voila, you have a free propagator.

Keeping the seeds moist and warm

Fingers crossed, they start to germinate

I don’t think I sowed as many seeds in 2024 compared as in previous years, so I am now doubting myself about as to whether I should have done more.

Last year, I grew some bedding plants from seed. Although they were reasonably successful, they weren’t as good as the lovely plants from our nearby charity nursery, Spadework.

I’m sure we’ll visit Spadework in the next few weeks to purchase a selection of bedding plants for our patio pots.

The wooden cold frame on our patio full of seed trays continuing their development.
 Our cold frame in 2023

I do have a cold frame on the patio. But, at the moment, it is a little too chilly of an evening for seedlings to go outside; however, luckily, I have a conservatory. It obviously isn’t ideal to use the conservatory. Still, it does get a huge amount of light for most of the day and is a perfect temperature through the night.

But of course, any indoor sunny window ledge is perfect for your seeds, and you can nurture them and chat to them indoors.

I planted my seeds about 10-12 days ago. After about 4/5 days had passed, I thought I would check on them, as they are covered with plastic lids and to my astonishment, some of the seeds have started growing.

It’s incredible how quickly some seeds germinate in the right conditions.

I hope your seedlings bring you untold pleasure.

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