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Sowing seeds

Another rainy Saturday morning

As the sun rose on Saturday morning the noise of the rain tapping on the roof of the house made it clear that it wasn't going to be a morning spent on the allotment. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little bit of rain, but i'm happy to use Eva as an excuses not to get wet, after all the last thing we need is her getting a cold.

As the whole house woke up and started the regular lazy Saturday morning routine, I broke the news to Eva that the allotment visit had been cancelled due to the weather and asked her if she would be tempted into another seed planting session at the office. The deal breaker was a sweet flask of tea and a selection of treats, unsurprisingly Alex wasn't so keen, the busy social life of a 9 year old is far more important that sowing seeds at the office with Dad. So Eva and I quickly got ready and set off to the office.

As I've said in previous blogs, February is all about sowing and preparation, so if you cant do one focus on the other with the weather so wet the ground will be too heavy so preparing the seed beds would be impossible, so my time is very much better spent sowing more seeds. The only problem I have with sowing seeds is the space in which they are going to germinate, but that is a bridge I'm going to have to cross in the coming weeks.

This week the focus is about a little catching up and also completing the sowing tasks for February. I already know some seeds such are Leeks, Shallots and Onions should have really be past the germination stage and be starting to grow in to strong plugs, I'm keen to get some seeds sown to give me a comparison against my set plants in the coming months. I'm also keen to cross a number of other seeds off my February sown list, so I know i was going to be busy.

A modification to our 360 plug traysOur 360 plug tray sat in our full seed tray

I mentioned before the lack of space so to try and save as much room as possible i'm sticking with my plug trays with the largest cells (360 Plug Tray) but like when I sowed the Peppers they tray has to be modified to fit a standard seed tray. The trays should be cut to 17x11 cell, it should then fit perfectly in the seed tray, another good tip is to make the cuts into the plastic when the tray is upside down.

Sowing onion seeds

To plant all my seeds today, I've used the following method:

1. Using cutting and sowing compost fill all the cells of the plug tray, brushing off any excess compost from the top of the tray with your hand, you should now be able to see the shape of each cell in the tray.

2. Using another plug tray (of the same size) place on top of the compost in the first plug tray and press down softly. This will push the compost into the cells and reduce an gaps that were between the compost. it will also give you approximatly 2-4mm at the top of each cell to place your seed.

3. Select the seeds you are wishing to sow and place 1 seed in each cell on top of the compost. 

4. If you are not wishing to sow a whole tray (187 cells) of the same plant, now is a good time to make plant labels to identify what seeds are sown where. I've planted my seeds in rows of 11 and marked at the top of each row what is sown in that row. To make it even clearer I've changed the colour of my plant label for each type of plant. Our 4" plant labels work a treat and fit nicely into each cell.

5. Now add a small amount of compost to the top of each cell, this should cover the seeds and also fill the cells to the very top. If you have added to much compost, being extremely gentle brush the excess compost from the top, if you are too harsh the seed underneath the compost will be disturbed or even removed from the cell.

6. Using our full seed tray with no holes, added approximately 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, and then place the plug tray (with the compost and seeds) into the water that sits in the seed tray. The compost will naturally soak up the water, this method is designed to not disturb the seed that now sits in the compost in your plug tray.

7. Finally place a propagator lid on top of your full seed tray and place in a warm window bottom or greenhouse. The seeds will need to be approximately 23-26 degrees C, this will vary depending on what seeds you are sowing.

Seeds in propagator germinating

Seeds sown this week:

Leek - Musselburgh
Onion - Alisa Craig
Shallot - Zebrune
Lettuce - Webbs Wonderful
Brussels Sprout - Evesham Special (No longer available)
Cauliflower - Igloo
Cabbage - Greyhound
Calabrese - Chealier (No longer available)
Cabbage - Red Drum head

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