Tips for Direct Sowing Seeds in Your Garden

Radish Seeds

While we gardeners in the UK often like to get a head start on our short season by sowing seeds indoors, there is something to be said for the simplicity of simply sowing seeds outdoors, right in the soil where they are to grow. This can be a great way to save on time and effort – as long as you time it right and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of direct sowing. The most important thing is to wait at least until the risk of frost has passed if your plants will be unprotected. For most of us in the UK, the last frost date will fall some time in April or May. There will still be surprises – late frosts or spring heat waves – but the date will give you some idea of when you should be able to direct sow or plant out. Germination of most plants is very dependent on temperature.


RadishesIf you are planning on direct sowing seeds in your garden then you will have to be even more careful about preparing the soil in your beds and borders. You should do your best to create a good soil structure and to add plenty of compost and organic matter. Try to make sure that your planting area is as weed free as possible before you begin sowing your seeds, or you may find it difficult to work out which are weeds and which are your seedlings. It is also a good idea to make sure you know what your seedlings will look like once they have germinated and they begin to grow. Having an idea of what your seedlings should look like will stop you from weeding them out by mistake or paying the weeds undue attention.


Another important factor in determining the success or failure of direct sown seeds in your garden is knowing your enemies. Cold, too much water or too little, strong winds, too much shade and a number of common pests can all stymie your efforts. While you can do little about the vagaries of the weather in the UK, you can choose your planting site wisely. If the ground is still rather cold then you can take measures to warm it before you sow and if, for example, a strong gale or late frost is forecast then you can use cloches and horticultural fleece and other methods of that sort to lessen any risk to your seeds or young seedlings.


Your own actions will also have an effect on how successful you are in your endeavours. Take care with spacing seeds, with the depth you sow them and with how you water and weed. If you are careful then it is not too tricky to direct sow seeds and many will grow into healthy and productive plants. Direct sow peas, broad beans, salad leaves and a number of other vegetables this month and you can begin to create a wonderful kitchen garden.

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