- vegetable seeds of choice
- seed trays, modules or biodegradable pots
- watering can
- greenhouse or cold frame
Step 1: Prepare the Seed Trays
Fill the trays or modules with multipurpose or seed compost, leaving a gap below the rim. Break up any large lumps, and firm it down gently to remove any air pockets.
Step 2: Water the Compost
Water the compost lightly before sowing. If seeds are very fine or are mixed with sand, pour a small amount into the palm of your hand so you can easily control them as you sow. Larger seeds can be sown individually.
Step 3: Sow Seed on the Surface
Sow seed thinly on the surface of the compost, or if sowing in module trays, place one or two seeds in each module. Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost, depending on their size, and water lightly.
Step 4: Check the Soil Daily
Put the tray in a warm place. Check daily to make sure the soil is most and if any seeds have germinated. Move the growing seedlings into new trays when the second pair of leaves appear.
Step 5: Replant the Seedlings
As they grow, seedlings will develop a stronger root system and will be easier to handle. Push them out of their seed trays or pots from below, and replant them into larger pots filled with potting compost.
Step 6: Water the Seedlings
Transfer the seedlings to a greenhouse or cold frame when they are ready to harden off. They should have 4–6 true leaves. Water them well before planting out, and try to retain as much potting compost as possible.
Step 7: Allow Plants to Harden Off
Move plants into a cool greenhouse or cold frame for a month, removing the lid during the day and increasing their exposure to outdoor temperatures. This process will allow the plants to be gradually acclimatized to lower temperatures before they are planted outside.
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Tender plants and half-hardy annuals and perennials are started indoors, since they need artificial warmth or frost-free conditions. The seeds of most hardy plants can be sown indoors, too, if you want closer control of their germination and early growth.
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