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Ready, steady...go!

by Tim Brooks

15 Mar 2023

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Well hooray!.. it’s another gardening season ahead of us and many keen gardeners may well have already begun sowing seeds in their greenhouses or heated propagators.

I for one have sown my Chilli, Pepper and Aubergine seeds in pots, then placed in the propagator till they emerge. Then take them out to ‘adjust’ to the cooler temperatures, otherwise the stems get too ‘leggy’. But even so, they still grow well after being potted singly into pots. That is the ‘fiddly bit’, transplanting all the seedlings individually into their 3 or 4 inch pots. Best to incorporate some perlite in with the compost, to assist drainage and root development. Perlite is sold in bags at garden centres. Otherwise compost can get a bit soggy which can harm seedlings, the result being they rot at the stem bases.

Now is also time to think about sowing Tomato seeds indoors. There are many, many varieties of Tomato to buy, but we usually save seeds from the previous year of our desired varieties, saved on newspaper when wet. Then allowed to dry off totally, store the ‘seeds/newspaper sheets’, in an envelope. All you then need to do is put compost halfway in a tray, lay a sheet of the ‘newspaper/saved seeds’ (trimmed to tray size) on the compost. Then add more compost over the ‘seeds/newspaper’, about a centimetre thick. Water well and place a propagator lid over the tray, or some clear polythene. Keep in a warm, lighted area, greenhouse or window sill. In about 2 – 3 weeks they should all emerge. When two leaves have developed, carefully pot up singly, adding the perlite to the mixture.

When ready do not handle seedlings by their stems, as this damages them. Carefully hold by the leaves, teasing the seedlings out of the compost using a plastic plant label, then pot up and grow the plants on indoors until late May for outdoor growing or transplant into large pots or growbags for indoor growing in early May. Make sure there is drainage at the base of the planter or pots.

It is also time for sowing broad beans in trays or even outdoors direct. Along with onion sets outdoors in rows. Later in March you can prepare to sow carrots, parsnips and peas outside too. I generally wait till early April for my main sowings if the weather still seems too cold and wet.

There’s still lots to do indoors, including sowing flowers like dahlias, which can be potted on into larger pots, especially the taller cactus and pompom varieties. They are planted outside in late May or early June, after frosts have passed and supported with canes and tied in. Regular deadheading and feeding encourages more flowers.

On our allotment plots it’s a welcoming sight to see the plot holders starting to get back into action again. An exciting spring season of seed sowing ahead and optimism all gardeners have right now.
Happy Gardening!

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