AND PRICKING OUT.
Use fresh seed compost, taken indoors a few days
previously to warm, and fill the pots and trays
loosely to the brim.
Firm it down evenly, paying
special attention to the corners, with a tamper,
or light block of wood – a small, round
one for pots and a rectangular one for boxes.
Soak the compost thoroughly and let it drain before
Sow the seeds sparingly, spacing them
as evenly as possible, and cover them with a thin
layer of compost, about as deep as the seeds themselves.
After sowing, water with a fine spray. Sow fine
seeds on the surface – they must have no
soil cover or further watering.
Do not let the seeds dry out. If they need watering
again while still in the propagator, stand the
containers in ½ in of water to soak until
the compost is wet on top.
Allow them to drain
before replacing them in the propagator.
Cover the seed containers with brown paper or
newspaper and a sheet of glass to help to retain
the moisture and exclude the light. For seeds
that require light, cover with a sheet of glass
only. When the seedlings begin to emerge, uncover
and transfer them in their containers to a cold
propagator to acclimatise them to lower temperatures.
They can then be left on a greenhouse bench or
an indoor windowsill.
Within a few weeks of the seedlings appearing
they will need more space.
Transplant them, called
pricking out, 40 to a standard size tray (8in
x 14in), and 20 to a half-size tray, in John Innes
No 2 or a multi-purpose peat-based compost.
even better results, use divided trays, or pots,
and plant singly. This will allow less root disturbance
when the plants are finally planted outside.
To prick out, prise the seedlings carefully from
the compost with a seed label or dinner fork.
Take care not to break the roots.
Handle the seedlings
by the leaves, not the stem, and plant them to
the previous depth.
Keep the compost moist.
the plants are well established and a few inches
high, transfer them to a cold frame for hardening
off before planting them outdoors.
Hardy annuals and some biennials and perennials
can be sown directly outdoors during warm spring
Sow hardy annuals where they are to flower.
Prepare the seedbed and mark it out in irregular
blocks for each variety of plant with the point
of a stick, taking into account their height,
form and colour. Draw shallow drills (furrows)
no more than ½ in deep, 4-6in apart across
each patch, using the blade of a hoe or a pointed
stick. Sow the seed sparingly, cover it lightly
and firm down the soil with the back of a rake
or the palm of your hand.
Sow biennials and perennials in shallow drills
and move them to a nursery bed when they are large
enough to handle. Plant them in their flowering
positions in autumn.
See also: Propogating Seeds