Sowing seed outdoors

Posted: Monday 13 May 2013
by Sally Nex

Doesn't it feel great to get your fingers into the ground? The weather has relented, the soil is warming and I've spent happy days outside sowing seeds directly in the garden.

Sally Nex Seed Club blog

Doesn't it feel great to get your fingers into the ground? The weather has relented, the soil is warming and I've spent happy days outside sowing seeds directly in the garden. We're about three weeks behind on the season, I reckon, but nature always has a way of catching up. This time next month, I doubt we'll notice the difference.

The carrots are first to go in: 'Autumn King' (from the Award-Winning Veg collection) has long been a favourite, as its stumpy roots seem to punch through my stony ground without forking too badly. Also, straight into the ground go beetroot, spinach and spring onions.

To look at my veg garden you'd think I have a rebellious streak. I spent most of last winter digging up my straight 4’x10’ raised beds, in favour of generous triangular zigzags, just for fun. And doing so has really jazzed up my display. Now I can make patterns with lettuces at the feet of broad beans with tall peas shooting up behind. It’s a bit like planning a mixed herbaceous border, but with veg instead of flowers.

But the rebel in me only goes so far. I do like a straight line, so within the triangles I still grow the veg in rows. It's practical, and makes things easy to plant and harvest. But most of all it just looks so satisfyingly good.

I use the tip of my trowel to score a shallow line in the soil, using the edge of a board to keep things straight. Another trick is to press a bamboo cane into the surface. Lift it out and the indentation becomes a neat drill around 0.5cm deep – just right for most seeds.

Of course, it’s different for hardy annuals, which look best planted in a natural, pretty effect drifting through borders among other plants. I've been filling in the gaps among my emerging perennials with what I hope will be a sea of blue-petalled Nigella 'Miss Jekyll', with fiery Calendula 'Princess Orange Black' woven in for a sizzling contrast (both from the Blooms for Bees pack).

To make your drifts, all you need is a small drinks bottle and some silver sand (available from most garden centres). Fill the bottle, then upend it and let the sand pour out so you're 'drawing' on the ground. This makes it easy to mark out generous patches or drifts, each for one type of flower, so they weave in and out among each other and you get that lovely natural look.

You can broadcast-sow your seeds within each patch, but straight drills are useful, too. Sowing in straight drills across the drift you've marked out means you can tell which are the flower seedlings (the ones in straight lines) and which are weeds. Once they're grown up, the lines disappear and merge into one big colourful splodge anyway. I can't wait to see it in full flower this summer.

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Talkback: Sowing seed outdoors
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mark haggart 11/06/2013 at 17:29

I need a bit help please with my borders i am new to planting i have got a range of seeds from.
Antirrhinum,foxglove,aster perennial, cornflower, geum,dahlia,calendula,swan river daisy, marigold, nigella[miss jekyll},mixed annuals,delphinium,marjoram.

i have two side borders 30'long with soil that looks like a bit clay i have turned it over but dryed out into big lumps some of it,can i put some top soil on it? or just bedding soil on?
and can i put any of these seeds straight into the ground or do i pot them 1st
thank you for any help

lazy gardener 11/06/2013 at 17:42

Most of those need controlled sowing-so into trays etc- and at different times of the year and some you will need to wait until next spring for flowering in 12 months

I would spend this period getting the soil into good shape and follow the instructions on the back of the packets for sowing dates

Basically this season has passed you by for flowering plants raised from seed-get ready for 2014

But you can sow into pots/trays now some perennials for planting out in the autumn or spring-but only hardy ones- not frost tender ones

mark haggart 11/06/2013 at 19:49

 thank you 

how do i get my soil into shape, it looks like big clumps of hard dryed out clay soil, i have turned it over and got most of the weeds out, or can i put topsoil on the top