Early seed sowing

Posted: Monday 18 February 2013
by Adam Pasco

This week I’ll get everything in place for early seed sowing. My sowing list includes greenhouse tomatoes, chillies and sweet peppers, plus a few half-hardy bedding varieties.

Sowing seeds

Nothing beats the warmth of the sun after a long spell of cold weather. Until recently, rain or snow has kept me indoors, thinking despondently of all the garden jobs waiting to be done.

Now that temperatures are rising, so are my spirits. When I step into the greenhouse, it feels almost tropical. Isn’t it amazing how a greenhouse traps the warmth? The automatic vents have opened, proving the rise in temperature isn’t a figment of my imagination.

This week I’ll get everything in place for early seed sowing. My sowing list includes greenhouse tomatoes, chillies and sweet peppers, plus a few half-hardy bedding varieties – all plants that benefit from early sowing and a long growing season.

My plan for the week involves something of a spring clean in the greenhouse:

  • clear out clutter

  • wash glazing inside and out

  • get pots and trays ready

  • buy seed sowing compost

And then there's the propagator. I like to use electrically heated propagators with a thermostat for controlling the temperature. Mine also has a strip light fitted over the top. This provides good quality light to the seedlings on dull days, extending the length of the growing day, and also gives me some light in the greenhouse to work by in the evening.

I don't have a permanent electricity supply in my greenhouse, but I do have an outside power socket protected by a residual current circuit breaker. I run a robust outdoor extension cable from this to my greenhouse, which provides power for my electric propagator, light, and fan heater.

Despite the warmth during the day, temperatures soon plummet in the evening. If I didn't have my propagator to maintain a steady temperature for my seeds, I'd sow a little later, placing the seedlings on warm, bright windowsills. Temperatures would need to remain above 16˚C, day and night, to support optimal growth.

Alternatively, I could buy young plants in April or May. They cost a little more than seeds, but are still fun to pot up and grow on.

Now, where did I put those seed labels?

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Early seed sowing
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

donutsmrs 18/02/2013 at 18:46

I have sown some tomato seeds this weekend and sweet pea. It is just great to be out in the garden, and it is lovely to walk into a lovely warm greenhouse. I have my little heaters in my greenhouses and it keeps them nice and warm. My fuchsias are staring to put out green shoots along with several other plants. I just love the spring and the start of a new gardening year.

donutsmrs 18/02/2013 at 18:46

figrat 18/02/2013 at 18:54

Absolutely! My hellebores, primroses, early daffs and snowdrops are all blooming away. I've got toms, peppers, sweet peas, mange tout and broad beans coming up in the gh. I've especially enjoyed the 'surprise' clumps of snowdrops popping up where I divided clumps in the green last year. Hoping to get some more seeds going in the gh tomorrow- leeks, calendula and Brassicas. Some of last year's calendula have overwintered out in the garden though, so I guess I'll have some self- seeders to look out for.

Tootles 18/02/2013 at 21:16

Hello, yes I agree. Lovely to get sowing isn't it? May I ask your opinion though pls? I planted some tomato seeds last week and they are up already. I had them in a utility room. It has a window put not mega bright. They looked like they were stretching for light so I put them in the greenhouse.....but it's not heated and I'm worried that the little seedlings might freeze. Is it best to bring them back in especially with the cold weather coming? Or do you think they'll be ok in the greenhouse?

sotongeoff 18/02/2013 at 21:31

Bring them in-they will not survive in a cold greenhouse until April at the earliest-especially as they are just seedlings-they need warmth and good light

See more comments...