How to sow seeds and raise seedlings, a step by step guide for beginners including what you need to get started and what not to do.
Over the weekend, I popped into Bunnings’ garden section to get some potting mix and I saw that panic buying has also hit their shelves. There were hardly any edible seedlings left. If you missed out on buying seedlings, all is not lost. You can grow edibles from seed and in this article, I’ll show you how to sow seeds.
Growing food from seeds may seem daunting at first but with a little gardening know how, it’s not that difficult.
The basic items you need are some seeds, a seed raising potting mix and a small container. You’ll also need a liquid fertiliser later. You can buy seed starter trays like I have in the photo above or jiffy pots like these or use a small container with holes made in the bottom. I’ve also tried small tubs of yoghurt and egg cartons when I was starting out. You can even grow seedlings in empty toilet roll inserts and transplant them directly in soil but considering how scarce they are in these times, punnets like the ones above are your best bet and they’re re-usable.
You can buy seeds from plant nurseries, hardware stores and online. I get mine online from reputable sellers. It’s much cheaper and I know I’m supporting small businesses directly.
Once you have your seeds, your seed raising mix and containers ready, follow these ten easy steps:
How to Sow Seeds in 10 Easy Steps
- Fill the seed raising cells / punnet / small container with seed raising mix.
- Tap it gently to release any air bubbles and water it using a spray bottle. You want the soil to be moist not soaking wet.
- Sow the seed according to the instructions on the packet. As a general rule, seed should be planted at a depth that is twice the width or diameter of the seed. I like to make a hole to the required depth using a re-purposed chopstick and slotting the seed in. Depending on the size of your punnet, place one or two seeds in each cell.
- Cover the seeds to retain heat and humidity. You can use Hessian cloth or create a mini greenhouse environment by placing the seedling cells/punnet in a clear storage containers with holes drilled in it to allow it to breathe. Alternatively, you can use a mini greenhouse like this one which I’ll be covering in another article.
- Label your seeds with the date you’ve sown them, put them in a sunny spot and keep them moist and covered until they germinate.
- Once the seeds have germinated and cotyledons (baby leaves) have formed, remove the cover as the plant now needs light to photosynthesise.
- Keep misting with water and don’t let them dry out. Do not overwater as this may lead ‘damping off’, which is a term for a fungal disease that makes the seedlings collapse.
- Once a week, give the seedlings a feed of liquid seaweed fertiliser at half strength. I like to do so by placing the punnets in a plastic container with the diluted liquid fertiliser and letting it soak from the bottom.
- After about 2 weeks or so or when the seedlings have have developed their first true leaves, it’s time to thin them out and keep the strongest and healthiest. Thin them by using scissors and cutting the stem at soil level. Don’t pull the plant out as you’ll disturb the roots.
- Continue feeding weekly and misting daily until about 6 weeks when the roots begin to show at the bottom of the punnet then they’re ready to go be transplanted.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t succeed the first time. On my first attempt on sowing seeds, I managed to kill all my seedlings by leaving them in the greenhouse and forgetting to open it on one day. Gardening is about learning from mistakes and it brings so much joy in the garden.
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