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Growing Plants from Seed

Growing plants from seed can be very cheap and quite relaxing.  Not all plants can be grown from seed but herbs, vegies and annual flowers are easy and have a high success rate.  Be patient though and plan ahead.



Direct sowing is simply planting the seeds directly where they are to grow.  Larger vegetable seeds such as peas, beans and corn suit this perfectly as do all of the root seeds such as carrots and radishes.

  1. Preparation of the soil is the key.  Check the pH to make sure that it is about 6 to 6.5 and if not, correct it as necessary.  Add plenty of organic matter such as manure and lupin mulch in to the top 5 to 10cm of the soil.
  2. Create a furrow (small ditch) in the soil in which the seed is scattered.  Larger seeds can simply be spaced as per the instructions on the packet.
  3. Smaller seeds can be mixed with washed river sand and then sprinkled in to the furrow as this allows them to be more evenly spread along the row.
  4. Use a rake to gently push the soil back over the furrow. Do not press down.
  5. Water well with a seaweed solution.  Do not allow the soil to dry out as this will cause the seeds not to germinate.
  6. Give a boost with liquid fertiliser only once the seedlings have germinated and the second set of leaves has formed. If necessary, thin the seedlings so that there is enough room between them to grow.

Unfortunately, newly germinated seedlings are a gourmet treat for snails and slugs.  Snails will eat a whole row of seedlings so that nothing remains in just one night. Snail and slug pellets are available and should be scattered around and replenished regularly.  If pets or children are in the garden, be sure to use a brand that has a deterrent in it and don’t leave them in piles in the garden where it is easy for them to ingest several at once.

Barriers such as plastic containers with their tops cut off can be successful deterrents for snails especially if they are sprayed with copper snail repellent products.  Snails do not like to cross copper so these work quite effectively.  Alternatively, put a small price on the head of every snail and send the kids out in the early evening or morning for a “snail hunt”.  It’s a great way for them to add to their pocket money.

Slaters can be a bit of a problem for very young seedlings as they chew the base of the stems causing the rest of the plant to die.  These are hard to deal with as they increase in numbers because of the rich organic matter used in gardens and are in fact beneficial as they help to break up the soil.  Barriers will also help to keep slaters from seedlings until they are old enough to not be affected by them.

Other pests such as aphids, whitefly and white cabbage moth are also issues that can be dealt with.  For tips on how to deal with these visit any Better Pets and Gardens store and pick up a copy of our “Garden Pests” fact sheet.

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