How to Plant Seeds for Beginners in the UK
If you are a beginner to gardening, then at some point you may consider planting seeds, and then growing your plants from seeds. Let's face it, we are all intrigued by watching a beautiful flower or vegetable growing from a tiny seed.
We sow them, nurture them and care for them as we watch them grow. Many say that is one of the main purposes of life.
The reality though for many beginner gardeners is that can be quite a challenge to make them grow. It is always going to be a great deal easier, to buy young plants, and then watch them develop.
Those have been grown by experts, and you simply take over and make sure they continue to thrive. Buying young plants is also the easiest method of making nice flower beds, garden borders, containers, pots and hanging baskets.
It is also the fastest method. So if you don't have patience, then we urge you to think twice before you consider planting seeds. They do take a LOT of work, and the entire process can be highly frustrating.
Seeds can however be grown outdoors as long as you have taken the time to prepare the beds and the soil in those beds. The soil needs to be completely free from weeds, and have a nice small crumbly texture.
The Basics of Planting Seeds
There are a few very basic steps to planting seeds which we have covered just below:
- Buy your seeds from a well known seed supplier
- Sow them at the right time of the year
- Most seeds will be sown in pots or trays filled with seeding compost
- Water them and keep them warm
- Transplant into larger pots once they are established
- Only plant those out when all signs of frost are a long and distant memory
Buy Seeds from a Good Supplier - Germination
Seeds when you first buy them are usually inside a sealed pack. They are classed as being dormant, and that simply means they are not doing anything.
Most packets of seeds will have a "best before" date, so always make sure to check that out before parting with your money.
Seeds do nothing until they are provided with the right conditions.
Once planted a seed looks upwards for light and the roots go downwards looking for water and moisture. This simple process is known as germination. Seeds need three things:
If you provide those in the right amount at the right time, then you can easily grow plants from seeds.
In the UK sewing time is usually between April to June, or again in late September. That is if you are going to sow your seeds outside. The golden rule is that the soil should be warm and moist with no risk of frost.
There are ways that you can start the sowing season earlier.
If you have a greenhouse, then you can start in February/March time and have young plants ready to be replanting in April-June. Likewise if you can sow seeds and keep them indoors, then you can also grow at an earlier stage.
Many gardeners also use heated seed trays which does give your seeds the best chance of growth.
If you want to grow seeds outside, then just be certain that the soil is both warm and moist. You will also need to water on a regular basis.
Pots, Trays and Seed Compost
As mentioned earlier you can put seeds straight into the ground if the soil and weather conditions are suitable. Many gardeners though will start their seeds off in pots and trays using a seed compost. You can really use any type of container as long as it had good drainage.
This seed pot has special nutrients that gives seeds the best chance of germinating.
All seeds need light, warmth and moisture. If planting outside always make sure the soil is warm enough and free from weeds. Depending on the weather they may need regular watering.
Once seeds start to grow they will need to be transplanted. You can do this either to bigger pots or containers. If sown outside then you will need to separate out the early shoots and create the right amount of space between them.
Month by Month Vegetable Sowing Options
In the months January through to March, you will need to sow seeds indoors in most parts of the UK. If you live in the South of the UK, then you may get away with sowing outside.
For most those seeds will need to be grown indoors or in a greenhouse.
You can sow round seeded peas, winter salads, onions, and other hardy salads such as winter lettuce and pah choi.
You can grow all the ones in January plus tomatoes, peppers and aubergines
Now is the time for root crops such as carrots, turnips, parsnips and beetroot. You can also start off summer salads including lettuces, cress, radishes and rocket
You can also sow Mange tout, peas and broad beans. Also a good time for cabbages, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and spring onions
All of the above as in March You can also sow celery, celeriac, squashes, courgettes, cucumbers and you can also sow all your herbs such as parsley, basil and coriander.
May can be a busy month for sowing as the soil should be warm and moist. You can plant beans and peas. You can also sow all of the root crops such as carrots, leeks etc. You can sow all your herbs. You can also sow all salad type plants. This is also a good month for planting out the plants you have sown earlier.
At this stage you are now seeding crops for the winter months. That makes it a good time to sow beans, root crops, herbs and salads.
July and August is a time of strong growth. Last opportunity for root vegetables and a good time for winter radishes and swedes. Move your lettuce choices to winter varieties.
See above for July.
This is usually a good month in the UK for growth.You can still plant those winter greens and salads.
You can still grow hardy greens, beans and peas but they may need some protection from frost.
This is more a time to tidy up the garden. you may still be able to grow garlic.
Again a good month for tidying up the garden.
How to Sow Seeds
- You need to dig over any beds if planting directly outside. Do this as early as you can and then allow the soil to settle. Make sure there are no weeds as they compete for the moisture and nutrients in the soil
- If you can cover the beds over to create heat. You can use fleece and even plastic to do this as longs as air can get in.
- When the soil is warm, then you can remove the covers and gently rake the soil. You can then plant in what is termed a shallow depression. Don't bury the seeds deeply and just under the surface is ideal.
- Add water to the drills before planting the seeds. Follow the instructions on the seed packet for the actual depths and spacing of seeds. Many flowers and vegetables need different depths and spacing
- One sown then carefully rake over the soil again.
- After that regular watering is important