West Carlston Garden Centre, Campsie Road, Torrance, Glasgow G64 4EZ, Tel: 01360 620248

Growing Seeds - Information

We stock Mr Fothergill's Seeds and Johnson's Seeds as well as a value range.

Sowing in Seed Trays:
Most gardeners use seed trays or propagators to grow their seeds.
[If smaller amounts are all that's needed a 1/2 tray or even small pots can be used.]
Fill the seed tray with compost - if necessary use a specialist compost more suited to the individual plant being sown.
Firm compost gently, water it, then sow the seed, covering or not as appropriate.
[Some people like to add sand, grit or vermiculite as a top dressing.]
Keep in a greenhouse, preferably heated, or windowsill indoors.
[If you have to sow seeds outside, try putting the trays in one of the new "Mini Greenhouses" - a covered, 3-shelf stand, that can be opened at the front, but covered at the back and sides.]
PotsAfter the seeds have germinated, and grown to a size were thay can be handled, they can be planted out - when conditions permit.
[A heated Propagator is the size of one or more seed trays with a heating element in the bottom as well as a plastic top. This is a good substitute for a greenhouse and can even save on heating, in an unheated greenhouse.]

Sowing directly into the ground:
Certain seeds can be sown by planting directly into the ground in the position where they are to flower. You can either sow them in rows or scatter them.
Scattering is a good method for sowing seeds of flower annuals where you have plenty of seed and want a good patch of colour. It's particularly appropriate for a mixture of types or colours.
Sowing in rows is good where you want each type in its own row - as is nearly always the case with vegetables.
Ground preparation:
Before sowing the seeds, you need to prepare the ground. You need to dig it to make sure there are no large lumps of soil or stones, and then rake over the surface to give a fine 'tilth' - a smooth surface with the soil broken down into small particles.
[The more you rake the finer the tilth.]
To sow in rows:
Mark out the rows with a stick by pushing the stick into the ground and walking backwards creating a small "trench" called a drill.
Sow the seeds in the drill, then cover by raking the soil from the side of the row over the seed.
Small seeds are usually sprinkled evenly along the row.
Large seeds - like peas or beans - are usually sown singly a few inches apart.
If the seedlings come up too thickly the young plants won't have room to grow properly and you will need to thin them out by removing the excess seedlings.
These excess seedlings should be kept for use elswhere or given to a fellow gardener rather than thrown away.
Water gently and regularly - young plants can dehydrate and die very easily and quickly.
Looking after seedlings:
Remember that seeds sown outside in the garden will need weeding - take care to differentiate between your seedlings and the weeds!
You will need to keep an eye out for damage by snails, slugs, caterpillars etc and take appropriate action.

When to Sow Seeds:
Seeds of annuals
are usually sown in the spring. They can be sown outside when there is no danger of frost, or under cover and planted out when there is no danger of frost.
Seeds of hardy annuals can also be sown outside in the autumn e.g. Sweet Pea. This will give them a longer growing period and a head start over similar plants sown in the spring, so they will flower earlier.
Seeds of half-hardy annuals can be sown outside in the spring, or, in some cases, under cover in the autumn.
If they are germinated in warmer conditions, they will need to be acclimatised to harsher conditions, by putting them outside for longer periods each day until they are finally strong enough to be able to stay outside all the time. This is called 'hardening off'
Seeds of hardy perennials can be sown in spring, summer, autumn or winter. Some may need "stratification", so should be sown outside in the autumn. Some may take several seasons to germinate.
Seeds of half-hardy perennials and tropicals which are to be sown in heat may be sown at any time of year.

Other Points and Tips:
1. Water the compost before sowing the seeds to prevent them being washed out of place.
2. After sowing, water using a can with a fine rose.
3. Some seeds need to light so need to be planted on the surface - not covered.
4. Some seeds need darkness - sow these on the surface then cover with some fine soil or compost.
5. If using compost, nothing should come up in the seed tray except the seeds you sowed i.e. no weeds - not so with soil.
6. The best heated propagators have a thermostat to get a more accurate temperature.
7. Some "harder" seeds germinate better if the seed coat is nicked e.g. Sweet Pea.
8. Some seeds benefit from being soaked before sowing - don't overdo this, as seeds can rot, if left too wet for too long.
9. Seeds of tropical plants usually need higher temperatures to germinate and a heated propagator becomes essential.
10. Seeds germinated in warmer conditions will need to be acclimatised to the harsher conditions outdoors. This is achieved by putting them outside each day to get them used to the colder temperature. Each day leave them out longer and longer, till finally, they are strong enough to stay outside all the time. This is called 'hardening off'.
11. A heated Propagator is usually the size of one or more seed trays with a heated element in the bottom as well as a plastic top. This is a good substitute for a greenhouse and can even save on heating, in an unheated greenhouse.
12. Electric Popagaators can be expensive and tend to be no more than the size of 2-3 seed trays. You can make your own heated propagator using a Soil Warming Cable, some pieces of 4"x1" wood and some fleece.

Not only would this be cheaper than buying a Proprietry Electric Propagator it would be much larger. Form a square or rectangle with the pieces of wood as in diagram (1) and line with polythene - it should look like an old fashioned Bread Tray. Lay about 1" of Sharp Sand inside the frame. Lay your Soil Warming Cable in an continuous S shape on top of the sand as in diagram (2). Put another 2" of sand on top of your cable. Connect up your Soil Cable to your power supply, preferably with a Thermostat matching your Soil Cable.

Rather than start from seed the trend nowadays is to buy young plants in the form of 'seedlings or plugs' early in the year and grow these on until they are ready to plant out in the garden or patio pots. We will have plenty of these tiny plantlets to choose from in February and March to give you a "head start".
To get these tiny treasures growing fast give them extra room and root space in a quality compost of your choice. For quickest growth and biggest plants choose a potting compost that is rich in nutrients. For maximum flowering potential we recommend Levington, Miracle-Gro or John Innes composts. Once potted on, in fresh compost, keep them in a warm, light place so they grow strong and sturdy. The kitchen windowsill is good, but a heated conservatory or greenhouse even better.

I hope you find these information sheets helpful, as a basic guide.
Seed Tray Insert
Plant Plugs
Unheated Propagator

Back to the top

West Carlston Garden Centre & Tea Room, Campsie Road, Torrance, Glasgow, G64 4EZ
Tel: 01360 620248 -:- e-mail: info@westcarlston.com