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When to Sow

Posted by Purple Sweetpea - Claire on 14th Mar 2017

When to Sow

Claire helping son with seedsThis subject seems to come up ‘year in, year out’ with gardeners, apart from those who have refined their knowledge of the area and the land they grow in. You will find these people are able to give excellent advice of when exactly to sow the seeds that they want to grow and are usually happy to share this information.

I am however, still learning and not quite getting it right. Last year I sowed my Sweet Corn and Patty Pans too late, resulting in a reduced crop, and I sowed my outdoor tomatoes too early and lost the plants completely.

This year I nearly made the mistake of using the earliest guide dates on the packet, but instead I took advice from my dad, fellow gardeners on my allotment site and the many helpful gardeners on online forums to ask questions about the specific seeds I wanted to sow.

Frosty GardenSeed packet guidelines aren’t always too helpful, as often the earliest date stated on the packet is for those people who are living in southern areas of the country, whom have an early last frost date. For this reason, it is best to check your own last frost date for the area you’re growing in.

Plants grow when the conditions are right for them, seed sowing guidelines on packets are just that, guidelines and nature will allow things to grow when the conditions are right, only allowing the strongest plants to survive.

I’ve drawn up this ‘rough’ guide for last frost dates for the UK to help others with this tricky subject. For best results, you could find your own personal last front date with a little research. Or you could learn like me by trying to make your seeds happy through sowing and planting as you like and see what works for you. This way can be a lot of fun but try not to get disheartened when things don’t work out.

Frost Map UK

If you can’t wait to get sowing, there are a few other things you can try:

Cover the ground - Use cloches, cold frames or gardening fleece fabric to warm the ground before you sow.

Greenhouse Heaters - You could always invest in heating your greenhouse. Using this method you can start many seeds using the earliest date stated on the on the packet and keep an eye on the temperature using a greenhouse thermometer.

Grow Rooms – I’ve seen many people use this method on YouTube. It looks very scientific and seems to get good results using UV lights in a purpose build inside growing space.

I suppose it’s a matter of doing what’s best for you, but most of all enjoying the process of sowing your own plants and flowers.

Take Care - Claire

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