Step 1: Clean Used Seed Trays
Use hot water and detergent or soak in a sterilizing solution and rinse before you begin sowing. Fill a tray with multipurpose or seed compost, and use a second tray to gently firm it to remove air pockets.
Step 2: Scatter Seeds Evenly Over Compost
Pour seeds straight from the package or sprinkle them from the palm of your hand. Sow thinly to prevent waste and overcrowding, which results in spindly seedlings that are more prone to diseases.
Step 3: Lightly Cover Seeds With Sieved Compost
Label the tray with the plant name and date. Water gently with tap water using a fine rose to avoid disturbing the seeds; avoid stored rainwater which can cause damping off disease.
Step 4: Cover, Transplant, Water and Label
Place the tray in a propagator or cover it with clear plastic to create the warmth and humidity needed for germination. Keep in a light place, such as on a windowsill, but not in strong sun. Remove the cover as soon as seedlings emerge. When the seedlings have a few leaves, transplant them into seed trays or small pots. To do that, water the seedlings, then hold a seed leaf and loosen the roots with a dibber or pencil to gently tease each one from the compost. Have ready seed trays or small pots filled with multipurpose compost, then water and allow to drain. Dibble a hole in each compartment, insert a seedling, and gently firm using the dibber; water and label. After a few weeks, harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to the outdoor environment. Place them outside during the day and bring them in at night, or place them in a cold frame and gradually increase the ventilation.
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Sowing in small pots works well for larger seeds and where fewer plants are required.