Garden lore

“Lady Cantal says that flowers can feel no pain. I asked if hers did, and she said yes, so I pointed to a hideous stone gnome overlooking a bed of very nice Stocks and told her the reason.”

H.L.V. Fletcher Purest Pleasure (1949)

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Sowing seed

Most beginners think you can just scatter seed around the garden and it will grow but it does not take long to realise that the results can be very disappointing, non-existent even. It is worth learning how to grow seed. Some can be sown direct into the garden. There will be instructions on the back of commercial seed packs telling you how deeply to plant the seed. However, it is often more successful to sow into a seed tray or individual pots, germinating the seed in more controlled conditions.

Generally you need about 10cm of depth so egg cartons are only going to work for quick turnaround crops like peas or lettuces. It is best to buy a bag of seed raising mix which is sterile (so when a green shoot emerges you know it is your seed and not a weed) and also lower in fertiliser than a potting mix. Tamp the mix down to get rid of air bubbles. Individually sow large seeds or sprinkle fine seed carefully and then spread a thin layer of mix on top of the seeds. The smaller the seed, the lighter the covering but almost all seeds need a complete cover. Water carefully. A misting bottle (the well washed window or shower cleaner bottle with a pump spray) is ideal for fine seed. Don’t flood the seeds.

Until seeds germinate, place the pots or tray out of direct sun but in good light. It is usually wise to elevate the seed trays away from slugs and snails or cats who think it is a litter box.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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