Friday, 5 February 2016 - 4:26pm
Many vegetable, summer plant and herb seeds can be sown outside or in a propagator during February and early March, so make sure you get your preparation started.
- Make sure you buy a stock of good quality seeds, multi-purpose compost and manure. After clearing the area of weeds, debris and stones, fork it over incorporating manure or garden compost (this will also improve soil texture) and then cover the areas where you’re intending to sow the seeds. We recommend Levington Organic Farmyard Manure or a general all purpose compost such as Murphy or Miracle-Gro. You can sow seeds of favourite varieties of greenhouse crops such as chilli peppers, sweet peppers, aubergines and tomatoes.
- Visit a good garden centre or peruse the catalogues for some summer flowering bulbs. There are lots of wonderful types available, including lilies, alliums, crinums, dahlias, Tigridia and Ornithogalum. They are great for planting outside between now and March – just make sure the soil in not very wet or frozen solid.
- It is also time to sow some summer bedding plants now to ensure that they’re big and beautiful in the coming summer. Seeds of flowers such as pelargoniums, gazannias and lobellas need to be sown in good quality compost in a heated propagator.
- Freezing cold compost is not going to speed up germination of seeds, so put at least one bag of compost in your greenhouse or porch to warm it up slightly before you use it.
- Use only clean mains water on seeds and seedlings, using properly cleaned trays, cells and pots and new, properly sterilised compost is the key to avoid damping-off disease. It also helps if you avoid sowing the seeds too close together mixing fine seeds with equal quantities of dry, horticultural sand.
- Seeds sown in a heated propagator will germinate promptly and, provided you have a warm, well-lit spot, the resulting seedlings (and later young plants) should grow away well. But remember that overprotecting seedlings by keeping them in a propagator for too long will also encourage damping-off disease so, as soon as the seedlings are big enough, gradually harden them off and provide them with better air circulation and lower temperatures.