There is so much to do in January! It’s not so much that it is the start of a new year, but, having passed the winter equinox, life starts to return to our gardens. This is the perfect time to get ready for this year’s bumper harvests in the fruit and vegetable garden.
Starting plants from seed is economical and helps your plants get a head-start and produce an earlier and longer harvest. Warmer days may still be some way off, but you can start off many vegetables to enjoy a super-early start to your growing season. Onions, cauliflowers and radishes are just some of the vegetables that can be started early, using techniques such as direct sowing with protection and indoor sowing under grow lights. In this short video you can see five easy ways to get sowing right now.
Growing from seed indoors is useful because it gives your plants a head start even if the weather outside isn’t warm, resulting in earlier and longer harvests than would otherwise be possible. It’s particularly good for tender crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash.
For best results, follow these top tips:
- Use a good seed-starting soil. It needs to be fine and moisture retentive so that the young seedlings don’t dry out.
- Seeds are usually planted at a depth of 1-2 times the size of their longest edge and they need the soil above them to be gently firmed down.
- Water them with a fine rosed watering can or spray. The soil needs to be fully moistened but not waterlogged so that they also have air and don’t rot.
- Seeds need warmth to germinate, so use a maximum-minimum thermometer to find somewhere in your house at the temperature indicated on the seed packet.
- Warm soil does tend to dry out quickly, so to prevent this you can either cover them with a plastic bag or regularly check and water them.
- The seed packet will usually tell you how many days it takes for them to germinate, but you need to check daily because as soon as they emerge you’ll need to transfer them to somewhere with good strong natural light.
- Sow seeds in small batches a few weeks apart.
- A common mistake is to place the seeds on a windowsill which often doesn’t give the same strength of light as growing outdoors. This produces leggy seedlings and once they’ve started off badly, they will find it hard to recover.