Always remember about keeping a crop diary and rough plan of what was sown when and where. A few notes on the weather can help too.
- Cover tomatoes, peppers end aubergines with fine sand rather than compost to help remove the seed coat as it emerges through the covering.
- Mix small seeds with a little dry silver sand before sowing to both make it easier to sow and reduce wastage.
- Save your empty seed packets somewhere safe for a year. It is easy to lose labels and to forget which varieties you sowed – which worked and which did not.
- Remember to sow a few annual flowers around the plot in spare patches. They make great cut flowers and will attract pollinating and beneficial insects to your plot.
- When sieving compost over seedlings you will end up with course material and lumps in the sieve. Don’t throw these away but add them to the bottom of the next tray in a thin layer to provide drainage.
- Use tap water to water your trays of seedlings rather than water from buttocks and tanks. The latter often contain spores of ailments like damping off.
- Consistently sow thinly to permit the roots room to develop and to reduce rivalry when sowing carrots to grow as a patio harvest.
So you understand precisely what to sow when file your seed packets in an old shoe box in month order.
- Replant them, if tomato seedlings are a little leggy. Bury the stem deeper create a more powerful stem and this will produce new roots.
- When sowing fine seeds such as lettuce and parsley, add a thin layer of seed compost to the drill to get them off to a good start.
- The ‘seeds’ of traditional open pollinated beet crops such as beetroot and chard are actually clusters of seeds and often produce more than one seedling. In the case of beetroot you can thin these for the biggest roots, but leaving them to develop allows you to produce a little clump of smaller, tender roots.
- Always sow courgette, pumpkin, squash and cucumber seeds on their side (not flat), so that water doesn’t rest on them and cause them to rot.
- Storing seeds in the shed? Pop them into a recycled plastic container with a tight-fitting lid to keep out vermin such as mice. Do the same with bird food.
Make paper pots out of newspaper. You can buy special wooden paper potters for moulding paper into the pots’ shapes.
- Wrap cheap plastic buckets with hessian and tie jute string round to hold the hessian in place. Drill a few holes in the bases. Several of these packed with salads and other veg crops will look very attractive on a patio or along a wall or fence. You can buy an amazing range of colourful hessian or dye your own.
- Cover large wire hanging baskets with fleece and place over tender crops as a mini cloche.