One of the nice things about now having a larger veg patch at home base, is that when people come and visit, we often end up walking and talking through the veg patch. In one of these friendly conversations this morning we did a lot of talking about growing from seeds, so I thought I’d share some snippets about growing seeds to encourage you to give growing from seed a go.
Like lots of things, growing veggies from seed is pretty straight forward once you know how. The bit you need to know is that while a seed is has to be tough to survive in the environment, once it sprouts they’re relatively delicate. So remember that a seed is a baby plant, and keeping it well fed and watered as a good starting point. The food in the seed does a bit to get the plant going, and after that it depends on what’s in the soil around it how well the plant will grow.
If you’ve never grown any veges yourself, then try planting some seedling plants/punnets from a friend or a store and give some seeds a try too, like this…
Before you plant
1) Think BIG. If you’ve never grown anything from seed before, start with big seeds. Big seeds usually means the plant grows a bit faster and is more able to look after itself and harder to damage. In summer try planting beans, in autumn plant broad beans (yes, they are yummy from the garden and awful grey blobs from a frozen packet) or sow peas in spring. You can always grow more but if you start with these it’s easier to get into the know.
2) Get the Good Dirt. There’s something odd about potting mixes – even though most of them meet the australian standard, they are not all created equal in my experience. If the dirt’s really cheap (less than $5 for a 20 or 25L bag) then don’t use it to start with, stuff just won’t grow. At the same time, a $18 bag of potting mix doesn’t seem to be any better than a $12 or $15 one. I can’t tell you what’s different between them, other than when you open the bag the bad ones look like dry, starved wood chips or mulch and smell of not much and stuff just doesn’t grow in it; the good ones are nice and crumbly, sort of hold together when you squeeze some in your hand and smell nicely earthy.
3) Wet the dirt. Water is important for seeds and if you make the soil moist (not a mud pie) before you start, then your seed has a good start and you won’t wash it away with too much water later (see xx below).
When you plant…
4) Remember the rule of double – don’t dig too deep. Put the seed in a hole or trench about twice the size of the seed. That means for lettuce and basil which have small seeds you only need a little depression to put the seed in, whereas for corn or broad beans you need a much deeper one. A little seed only has a certain amount of energy to produce the little plant from, so if you put it in too deep it’ll have run out of puff before the plant breaks through the soil. BTW – thanks to Bev for this tip, she was the first person to put this so clearly for me.
5) Give me space. Leave at least 2-3cm between seeds when you plant them, and only put one or two seeds in any one hole…otherwise there’s not enough food in the soil to feed all the plants when they sprout and they’ll start of well and then shrivel or just not thrive.
At a school in lunchtime seed starter session we were talking about how many seeds to plant and we realised that if you think about how many seeds are in a little pot like kids lunches then it makes sense – would one lunch be enough for 6 kids to thrive? No, they’d be under nourished and not thrive. Same principle applies with seeds, they each need enough food to be healthy and happy.
That’s probably enough to get you started.
I’ll be back to talk about what to do once you’ve got your seeds planted to keep them growing happily and healthy (most of the time)
PS: The notes here are what I’ve learned from trying to grow from seeds for over 5 years now, I’m no expert but this does seem to work so I keep doing it :-). Be great to hear your seed growing tips on FB (@100kilos.org) or Twitter (@100Kilos_Org) or Instagram (@100kilos_org) too.
PPS: If you’d like a reminder to plant seeds and what to plant each month you can subscribe to our notes from the veg patch too – just click here, then click subscribe (in the top left corner of the screen) and tell us your name and which email address you’d like us to send it t