Sowing Seeds Indoors
Sowing seeds indoors is easy and satisfying! You don't need a greenhouse - a sunny windowsill will do. Many seeds can be started off indoors - vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, peas and corn and annual plants such as sweetpeas, sunflowers, cosmos, tagetes to name just a few. There are a few simple rules to follow -
Plant small seeds in shallow containers like seed trays. Larger seeds can be sown in module trays or pots and large seeds (such as a courgette) can be sown directly into a 9cm or larger pot. If you are re-using old trays and pots, make sure they are clean and therefore disease free.
Always check the seeds requirements on the packet. Many will just require a good compost, but some require more care and may need sand added or a finer grade of compost. Make sure you scatter small seeds evenly and plant larger seeds at the recommended distance to stop over crowding. Always label each container or you will be playing guess the plant in a few weeks time! Cover the trays/pots with either glass, a plastic top or even use a plastic bag secured with a rubber band. This will give the seeds more warmth and provide their own micro climate for a healthy start.
Once seeds start to show, remove the coverings during warm periods to allow aeration and ventilation. Keep the soil moist. As plants get bigger they will no longer need the cover.
Some seeds will benefit from 'pricking out' once they outgrow the tray. They will not yet be ready to plant outdoors. They should have at least one strong leaf each. Loosen the soil around the base of the plant and pull out gently, before potting into a bigger (at least 9cm) pot.
Watching the weather, plants will benefit from 'hardening off' by putting outside on warmer days and bringing in overnight. This will stop them from 'stretching' and will allow them a better start once the risk of frosts has gone and they can be planted outdoors.
Enjoy the beginnings of spring!