Want to grow your own food? Follow these simple rules to grow your own veggies from seed.
If I knew how easy it was to grow your own food from seed I would have done it years ago. There are few simple rules to follow, but the result is so much more rewarding (and cheaper!) than buying plug plants.
I’m now “addicted” to growing from seed and consider the seedthe most fascinating part of a plant!
Here are why top tips for growing from seed
The first thing to know is that seeds are really little bombs of energy ready to explode. They need nothing but water and a warm place to germinate (germination is the phase where a seed starts developing in to a new plant).
TOMATOES, AUBERGINES & CHILLIES
Some seeds such as tomatoes, aubergines, and chillies need an environment with a temperature of at least 25ºC to grow. So make sure you sow the seeds indoors: a windowsill is an ideal place, until the temperature outside gets warmer and any risk of frost has passed. In many parts of the UK, this happens between April and May.
BEETROOT, CHARD, MUSTARD & ROCKET LEAVES
Other seeds such as rocket leaves, mustard, beetroot and chard can start growing in about 10-15ºC. They can be sown outdoors in early spring (March) or early autumn (September) as they can be quite resistant to cold temperature once well established. Broad beans and peas can be frost resistant – I sow them outdoors in October just to have an early crop for the following spring.
The perfect position
Opt for a place with good light but not the scorching sun. Using a transparent cover allows light in but also keeps the compost moist and warm. Seedlings indoors tend to grow toward the light so it’s best to rotate the pot often, to avoid them bending to one side.
A perfect growing medium for seeds is a light and fine compost or coir block. At this early stage the seedlings do not need a rich compost, but a good medium where they can easily grow roots and get water and air.
If you are using coir blocks, start by soaking the block in water. Once you have sown your seeds only add water when the coir block starts to dry out. Beware, seedlings may rot or develop diseases if the coir block is too wet. Apply a rose to your watering can or use a spray bottle to avoid washing out your seeds.
Seeds can have many shapes and sizes – a simple rule is to plant them at a depth of twice their length. Lettuce and rocket have very fine seeds that can be scattered on the surface of your compost and then gently pressed down.
Tomatoes and mustard have slightly bigger seeds that can be gently covered with a very thin layer of compost (about 5mm will be enough).
Courgette and beans have chunky seeds, they need more space for their roots than smaller plants. A 10cm pot or larger will allow them to have enough space for the baby roots and leaves before planting them outside.
Don’t forget to label your pot
Last but not least: label your pot. This is a simple but crucial rule in order to know what you have planted. Many seedlings look alike. Write the name of the variety and the date sowed.
Now you should be ready to start your sowing, it’s so exciting: grab those seeds and have fun!
Happy gardening and let us know how it goes!
CLYO PARECCHINI, LIVEWELL COORDINATOR
Clyo heads up Wen’s Live Well cooking and food growing courses in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Classes explore in a practical way how diet and lifestyles has an impact on the planet. Attendees learn and try new plant based recipes, spend time in the community garden and enjoy a delicious lunch.