Art Of Seed Sowing

One of the great challenges of gardening is raising seeds to seedlings. Here are a few handy ideas if you are either sowing seeds for the first time or want to fine tune sowing techniques. A key element is to spend time on detail to be carried out when sowing smaller seed. Firstly obtain a good quality seed raising mix that is loose and friable and forms a fine texture on the surface. The seed raising mix must be level, and to help kick start the seed, a very small amount of fertilizer can be added. When raising seeds with too much fertilizer this will cause the seedlings to grow soft and spindly which will make them weak and they will tend to fall over.

Use a container that is at least 5cm deep to sow the seed and be on the lookout for recycled berry containers, pots, seedling trays or sow direct in the garden. Protect your seedlings from adverse weather conditions. When raising seeds a good practice that’s handy is to label and date what’s been sown. Sow seed by placing it in the palm of the sowing hand and close fingers together with the thumb in the middle. Use the thumb to control how many seeds are released onto the soil, sowing lightly.
To cover the sown seed, a fine dry soil mix is all that’s needed and by using the thumb again this time to control how much soil covering falls on the seed. Move sowing hand repeatedly over the container in a shaking motion releasing the fine soil covering. For small seeds a maximum of 3mm is enough soil covering and larger seeds can handle up to 1cm covering. Please follow directions on the seed packet as to correct sowing depth. The important part now is to lightly water the sown container. Sowing depth is critical to successful seed raising. Small seeds struggle to push through a thick blanket of soil covering, they just don’t have this ability. The smaller the seed, the less covering is needed! For example Brassica’s or lettuce, cover the seed with 3mm of soil, finer seeds will need little or no covering. Keep the soil surface moist but not wet. Watering at least once a day is needed and position your pots in a warm position like a window sill or verandah to aid germination.
 
Once seedlings have germinated make sure they receive at least half a day of sun to keep the growth rate steady. When seedlings are approx. 5 cm high they can either be planted direct in the garden or put into largers pots or boxes. Once seedlings have established themselves over a few weeks they can be planted out in the garden.
 
Many factors can affect seed germination including air temperature, soil moisture, poor seed quality, and seed covering depth, adverse weather conditions including heavy rain, cold and high temperatures, ants, rodents, snails and slugs.

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