SEED SOWING, have you started yet?

Sowing seeds. Salads will be sown sequentially during the spring to ensure a steady supply for the farm shop over the summer.

When should you be sowing seeds? The obvious place is to look for instructions is on the back of the packet but equally important is their final desitination and risk of frost. It is always best to calculate when you think it is safe to plant out your seedlings and work back from there. In horticulture, experience and record keeping count for a lot! Last year’s late frosts and hot summer spells caught many of us out but that doesn’t necessarily mean what we did was wrong for an average year. Every so often the weather will catch the best gardener out, so it is important to play a percentage game and adjust where possible, to reduce last minute effects of the weather, pests and disease. The gap between seedlings being ready for planting out and actually planting can be delayed significantly if the soil conditions are too wet or frost is forecast. What you cannot do is bring planting forward, so it is important not to delay sowing too late unless you are direct drilling into the soil, as you will be for many root crops.

Seed trays are clearly marked as we often have several varieties in each tray. Leeks have been sown in the deep pots. They will be washed and planted bare root into their final beds.
Some larger seeds are sown directly into modules, so that they have an established rootball at planting. This year we have used Melcourt multipurpose organic compost so that we get a better understanding of our new compost range.

We have the benefit of a greenhouse to protect young seedlings from the cold and we are prepared with fleece and heat if severe frosts are forecast at critical times. Normally, neither are needed for more than a few nights each spring. We also use fleece after planting, to protect from the weather and pests until the new crops are established. Last year our worst problems were caused by hot spells which caused early lettuce to bolt and encouraged a flea beetle to infest our Oriental Mizunal.

Most of our small seeds have now been sown. Beans, sweet peas and sweet corn will be planted in modules next week and planted out under fleece as soon as the soil is warm enough. Of course we will be trialing a range of our new Melcourt peat free composts so that we can give valuable feedback to our customers.

Healthy young asparagus shoots emerging from plants raised last summer.

Last year, we raised 300 asparagus seedlings, which have remained in the glass house over winter. As we prick out this years vegetable seedlings we will move these outside to harden off, ready for planting out in their final position when soil conditions are correct. It will be a few years waiting before it is ready to harvest.

Some of our asparagus plants that will be taken out of the greenhouse shortly. Behind are some herbs, elephant garlic setts and the first lettuce seedlings, sown directly into cell trays.

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