Sowing seed directly into the garden

Sowing seed directly into the garden

  • Common practise in spring
  • Sow in blocks or in rows
  • Plants can grow uninterrupted
  • May need thinning
  • Protect with cloches in extreme weather

Sowing seeds directly into the garden where they are to grow and mature is the ideal way of rearing plants. From seed to harvest there is no physical interruption to the growing process. This suits a range of crops – especially root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, parsnips and turnips whose seedlings – with fledgling tap roots - can easily be damaged if they are transplanted into the garden from punnets or trays. Seeds are also generally sown straight into the garden in spring as weather clears, becoming warmer and more stable with the odd shower to help things along.

Plants with small seeds are sown in patches or rows and seedlings are thinned as they grow to provide adequate space for mature, productive plants. This initial ‘over-planting’ helps to insure against the potential damage that can be caused by slugs, snails and other pests.. By the time plants are thinned they have hopefully reached a size that will be able to endure the odd nibble. Plants like dwarf beans with larger seeds are usually sown two or three seeds to a hole and the strongest seedling is selected once they have sprouted and have formed leaves. The weaker seedlings are pinched out.

Sowing is dependant upon weather. In summer with hot dry days, watering can be critical to prevent shallow-rooted seedlings from keeling over. In winter it can be tricky due to very cold or wet weather. In summer shade cloches can be used to reduce dehydration and in winter plastic tunnel cloches should help to hold in warmth and keep out winter deluges.

How to sow seeds direct

Equipment: Well-tilled garden soil, seeds, label, watering can.

Tip: Soaking seeds for an hour or so to before sowing can help stimulate germination.

1. Soil should be well-dug, fine and free from lumps

2. Make a channel or drill at recommended planting depth

3. Straight channels or drills are efficient in terms of space

4. Sprinkle seeds into channel

5. Cover seeds with soil

6. Gently pat soil to ensure good contact with seeds. Water using rose attachment on watering can

7. If sowing small seeds, thin when seedlings have a couple of pairs of leaves.

If sowing in a block:

Spread seeds in the desired area

Brush a thin layer of soil across seeds so they are buried at the recommended depth.

Using rose attachment on watering can, water seedlings to stimulate germination  and ensure good contact with soil.