If you’re planning on growing a vegetable garden this summer, now is the time to sow vegetable seeds in trays. It might feel like the depths of winter (especially if you have to wake up early to go to work), but spring is only a few weeks away!
Growing a vegetable garden from seeds is much cheaper than planting seedlings, but it is a bit more work. If you plant your seeds now, they should be ready to transplant into your garden by mid-September — giving you a head-start on the growing season. And if you don’t have time to sow vegetable seeds, look at buying and planting vegetable seedlings in your garden from mid-September.
How to grow your own vegetables by sowing seeds
Step 1: Gather the plastic seed trays or pots that you’ll be using to grow your seeds. Fill them with potting soil and place two seeds into each compartment.
Step 2: Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil and add a little water. Wrap a clear plastic bag over the tray and leave on a window sill or in a light, warm spot (a sheltered, sunny patio is perfect for this). The plastic bag will keep the soil moist and warm — great for germinating seeds.
Step 3: If both seeds germinate, once the seedlings are about 3cm tall, pick out the weakest one to make more room. Check the soil every few days to make sure it isn’t dry. Ten days later, remove the bag and rotate the tray often, keeping it in the light. When your vegetable seedlings have at least 6 leaves, and the last frosts are over, transplant your seedlings outdoors in a sunny spot.
Read more: 5 tips to grow the best spinach
Tips on how to grow your own vegetables from seed
- Plan your space before planting. Check how much space the vegetables will need when they’re fully grown and use that information to decide what to plant where. Think about what vegetables your family is likely to eat most of, and plant more of those.
- Plant your favourite vegetables in pots placed outside the kitchen for easy picking.
- Make sure the soil in your pot drains well, as no crop will tolerate wet feet.
- Your vegetables will do best if they get plenty of sun. If shade is unavoidable, rather plant leaf crops in shadier spots, as they are more adaptable.
- Rotate your crops to ensure there is no build-up of diseases. For example, alternate between root and leaf crops.
- Prepare the soil in your vegetable garden well. Start by digging it over to about the depth of a fork. Dig in plenty of compost and well-matured manure.
- If the seeds are to be sown in situ (directly in the soil), for best results plant them in shallow drills or furrows spaced about 10 to 15cm apart.
- You’ll need to thin out the seedlings once they’re about 5cm tall. Check the seed pack for ideal spacing.
- Water your newly planted seeds every day. Once they have become established you can gradually reduce this to every four to five days.