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Many vegetables, annuals, biennials and herbaceous plants can be grown from seed sown outdoors. The secret to success is to prepare a good seedbed, free of weeds and with a crumble-like soil-surface texture.
Many vegetables, annuals, biennials and herbaceous plants can be grown from seed outdoors. Ornamental examples include Centaurea cyanus (cornflower), Digitalis (foxglove), Eschscholzia (Californian poppies), Helianthus annuus (sunflower), Iberis umbellata (candytuft), Limnanthes douglasii (poached egg flower) and Tropaeolum majus (nasturtiums). Vegetables such as beans, carrots, onions and peas can also be grown outside from seed.
Sowing seed outdoors, directly into final growing places, is ideal for gardeners who do not have much room to raise seed indoors in trays or propagators. You also don’t need to start seed sowing as early in spring as when you sow outdoors. You can scatter seed of ornamentals in free drifts to achieve a natural-looking distribution, or sow vegetables and cutting flowers in clearly defined drills to make weeding and thinning easier to carry out.
As long as the soil is warm and moist, seed can be sown and it will germinate quickly. In practice, this usually means either mid-spring to early summer (April-June), or late summer (September). If you can provide the crop with protection, such as cloches or fleece, sowing can begin in early spring. Likewise, regular watering will make it possible to raise rows of seedlings in the height of summer.
Always refer to the seed packet for the best time to sow, as it does vary with plant type.
Sowing seed is very straight forward – just think of how many plants scatter their seeds and they grow where they land as soon as it is moist and warm. However, for the best success, this is the best way to sow:
Packing down of certain soils under heavy rain can cause a cap of hard compacted soil that dries to a crust thorough which seeds can not emerge. Prevent this by covering seeds with potting media such as peat-free multipurpose compost.
Other problems include:
Hardy annuals: for autumn sowingHardy annuals: for spring sowingSeeds: sowing indoorsSeed: collecting and storingTrees and shrubs from seedVegetable seeds: sowing
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Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9