Growing From Seed

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Growing from seed is one of the most fundamental and, therefore, most satisfying of gardening activities. The fascination of starting a plant from the very beginning and watching life spring from something so small and lifeless-seeming is irreplaceable, and spring is one of the best seasons for sowing plants from seed.

To successfully germinate a seed needs three basic things – water, oxygen and the right temperature. Other seeds have more specific requirements hence it’s important to check the sowing times and information on the seed packet before you start. Tomatoes, for example, won’t germinate if the temperature is too low.

Sowing Vegetables From Seed

Many spring-planted vegetables grow easily from seed. This list includes beans, sweet corn, zucchinis, pumpkins and cucumbers. All of these will get the best start if they’re sown right where they’re to grow. On the seed packet this is often termed ‘sowing direct’ and its great advantage is that the young plants don’t have to suffer the stress of being transplanted. Most importantly, however, all of these seeds need warm soil for germination so, if you’re in a very cold climate, it’s best to either wait a bit longer or to start the seeds in pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix. Keep the pots in a warm spot and carefully transplant the seedlings once the weather’s warmer.

Some seeds are particularly prone to rotting away if they stay wet for too long. This especially applies to larger seeds like beans and sweet corn that contain large quantities of starch. If these seeds are given too much water they’ll rot and simply disappear. You’ll achieve best results with beans if the seeds are sown into damp, well-drained soil and not watered again for a few days – usually after the bean plants have emerged. Sweet corn packet directions often suggest maximizing chances of success by sowing two seeds together. Then, if both germinate, the weaker plant can be removed.

Zucchinis, pumpkins and their relatives are planted into ‘hills’, small mounds of improved soil. The mounds help to guarantee good drainage for both the seeds and plants. Like corn, with these plants it’s best to sow more seeds than you need. Excess seedlings can be removed or carefully transplanted.

Sowing Flowers From Seed

Many flower seeds are difficult to germinate because they’re so small. In fact, some flower seeds are so tiny they’re like dust. Many of these tiny seeds have evolved to germinate on the soil surface where they are directly contacted by light. This means achieving the tricky balance between keeping the seeds moist, but not burying them.

Examples of such tiny, light-sensitive seeds are petunias, begonias and impatiens. Sprinkle these seeds onto the surface of some Yates Seed Raising Mix and moisten by immersing the bottom half of the pot in a container of water. Remove from the container when the moisture glistens on the surface of the mix.

As a general rule, the larger the seed, the more deeply it should be sown. Some of the bigger flower seeds – such as sunflowers and nasturtiums – can be sown straight into a prepared garden bed. Sunflowers like warm soil where as nasturtiums prefer it slightly cooler.

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