How to sow seed? Whilst the easy answer is "do what it says on the pack", here are 12 tips to give your plants a helping hand...


Sowing indoors

1. Though many seeds can be sown straight into the soil, it often pays to give them a head start in a seed tray, module or pot, on a window ledge or in a greenhouse. This also reduces the competition from other plants and threats from pests.

2. Most wildflower seed is best sown when it's fresh in autumn (August to October) or early spring (February and March).

3. Small seeds can be sprinkled over the compost then covered with a thin layer of peat-free compost, sharp sand or grit.

4. Larger seeds should be pushed slightly into the peat-free compost, but not deeper than their own diameter.

5. Seeds sown in seed trays or modules often germinate quicker with a polythene or glass covering, but be careful not to place them in direct sunlight.

6. Move seedlings outside as soon as you can, but do this gradually to avoid shocking them.

Sowing outdoors

7. Some wildflowers, like Welsh poppies and foxgloves, are so tough that you might as well get them going outside.

8. Other seedlings hate to be moved, so will benefit from being started where they are to grow.

9. Most seed is best sown in autumn; when sowing outdoors in spring you might want to cover the ground first with a cloche or plastic sheeting to warm it up.

10. Try to sow in a rows or some kind of regular pattern (zig zags or circles, say), so you tell your seedlings apart from the weeds when they all appear.

11. Remember to put sticks in the ground to remind you exactly where your seedlings should appear.

12. After making a shallow drill in the soil to take your seeds, water this first to encourage rooting.

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