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Getting started - preparing to grow from seed

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

Growing from seed might seem a little daunting at first especially if you're a first time seed grower or if you're new to gardening but to accompany each month's seed kits we produce 'how to' videos and guides, along with regular updates as the seeds start to grow; I am sowing and growing the same seeds as you at the same time so everyone in The Cut Flower Patch community can learn together.

Before you start planting your seeds a little preparation will go along way and that mainly involves acquiring a few bits and pieces. Creating a cut flower patch is not an expensive past time if you don't want it to be, there are lots of extras and add-ons that you can buy but really all you need to get started is a few key basics;

Multi-purpose or seed compost

You can use multipurpose compost or seed compost when sowing seeds. I usually use a good quality multi-purpose compost but seed compost is as good. I would recommend using whatever you have to hand rather than buying one or the other especially for your seed sowing. It's important to try and source peat free compost as peat farming is damaging to environmental habitats. Please don't use homemade compost for seed sowing as it is likely to contain weeds and it will be difficult to distinguish between the sown seeds and the weeds. If your compost is very cold and icy it's worth filling your pots and seed trays with compost and bringing them indoors to warm up the compost for a day or two.

Containers for sowing seeds

There are lots of different container options for growing seeds; recycled yoghurt pots, traditional plastic seed trays and terracotta pots. I've tried lots of different containers but my preference is for seed trays with 24 cells and a lid as they are useful for flowers like zinnia which do not like root disturbance but this style also works well for most types of cut flower seeds. However this style of seed tray isn't essential, but whatever container you use please ensure it has drainage holes otherwise your compost will get waterlogged and your seeds will rot. I always disinfect my seed trays after each use to ensure I get rid of any disease or fungal spores. Brush off any soil and then soak them in a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water for a minimum of 10 minutes. Rinse them thoroughly and allow to air dry before filling with your new seed compost.

Propagator lids, plastic food bags or even plastic shower caps can be used in the early growing stages to keep the moisture in your potting compost.

Tools and containers for pricking out

When your seeds first germinate they produce 'seed leaves' these enable the plant to harness the sun's energy to feed the plant. The 'seed leaves' are different from the plant's 'true leaves' and when these true leaves appear it's time to prick out the plant. All this is explained in more detail in the videos that accompany the Monthly Seed Kits. A pricking out tool like the one pictured is useful but equally you could use a plant label (the free ones supplied with your Monthly Seed Kits are ideal). When you've pricked out your seedlings you'll need to pot them on into 9cm pot, this is widely used pot size in garden centres and nurseries and, even though I need dozens and dozens every year, I don't think I've had to buy a 9cm pot yet, a quick message on our road's WhatsApp group and I receive lots of donations which otherwise would probably end up in landfill.

Watering your seedlings

One of the main mistakes made by first-time seed growers is overwatering or dislodging the seeds because they've been doused with water from a hosepipe or large watering can. A small watering can, ideally one with fine rose attachment. can be a good investment but a child's tippy cup will also do the job, especially if you don't have lots and lots of seedlings to water.

Garden sieve

Not essential, but I find a garden sieve really useful. Fine soil is much better when planting seeds, it saves the seeds from having to struggle against large clumps and bumps in the compost.

And, other than the seeds themselves, that is pretty much all the equipment you need to get your seed sowing journey underway



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