Start seeds off indoors
Sowing seeds indoors is easy and satisfying. It means you can get a head start on gardening for the year. You don't need a greenhouse - a sunny windowsill will do. Many seeds benefit from being started indoors - vegetables and flowers - such as tomatoes, beans, sweetpeas and tagetes to name a few. Here are a few hints to help -
Plant seeds in shallow containers such as seed trays (eg tagetes, peas). Larger seeds can be sown in module trays or 9 cm pots (eg courgette, cucumber, sunflower). Old pots from previous seasons are perfect for this - just make sure they are clean and therefore disease free.
Always follow the instructions on the seed packet. Many seeds just need good quality compost, some recommend fine compost or vermiculite to cover them. Scatter well to avoid over crowding or wasteage. Label each container - you won't remember! Cover trays/pots with either a piece of glass, a plastic bag secured with a rubber band or a plastic cover designed to fit over seed trays. This will give the seeds more warmth, creating their own micro climate and giving them a healthy start. If you are lucky enough to have a propogator, set the temperature to around 15 degrees and fill with your favourite seeds.
Once seeds start to show, remove the coverings during warm periods to allow aeration and ventilation. Always keep the soil moist, but not damp. As seedlings grow they will no longer need the cover.
Some seeds need to be 'pricked out' once they outgrow the tray, as they will not be hardy enough to go outdoors and need more space to grow. Make sure the plant has at least one strong leaf before loosening the soil around the base and pulling out gently. Pot into a bigger pot (at least 9cm) and keep in the warm.
Once spring has finally arrived, put plants outside on nice days to 'harden off'. Still bring in overnight and do not plant out until the risk of frosts has passed.
Enjoy the garden!