Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Article excerpt

Byline: By Bill Newton

From now until early April is the time to sow seeds of half hardy bedding plants.

These are the plants which can be killed by frost and need an early start into growth before being planted out when the danger of frosts has gone.

The seeds need to be sown in a good quality compost. Never try to save money by using sifted garden soil. Use clean seed trays or pots, to be placed in a greenhouse or on window sills or in a propagator. Garden centres and stores now have a great array of the 50 million packets of seed bought by gardeners each year. Read and follow the instructions on them.

The greatest cause of failure with seedlings is damping off. One day you have a fine upstanding array of seedlings and the next they are all literally flat on their backs, having been attacked just where the tiny stems touch the compost.

There are two good preventatives, Cheshunt compound and Murphy traditional fungicide. Both are applied after mixing with water, using a fine spray on the compost surface.

Most seeds need a temperature of 60 to 70degF. Last year I was able to germinate all mine in an unheated greenhouse. When the seedlings are at their first stage be sure to turn the containers at least every two days to be sure of an even distribution of light so that they do not grow one-sided.

The traditional way to germinate seed is to cover the container with a sheet of glass covered by paper. When the seedlings show, take off the paper and lift off the glass for short periods until after a few days the glass can be discarded and the seedlings given a bright spot, but out of direct sunlight. Be careful not to over-water, a fine sprayer is better than a watering can which may dislodge the roots.

When they are big enough, prick the seedlings out into larger containers. Harden them off by increasing ventilation. …

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