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How to sow seeds outdoors


The warmth of spring and summer allows you to sow vegetable seeds outdoors in the soil. Here they'll quickly germinate to produce crops to enjoy this season. Try easy-to-grow salads such as radish, spring onion and salad bowl lettuce. You can also use this technique to grow flowering perennials and biennials as well as hardy annuals to brighten up you beds and borders. Sow into weed-free soil that has been dug, forked and raked to create a fine surface structure or 'tilth'.

How to do it


Make a shallow groove or 'drill' in prepared soil using the end of a trowel or bamboo cane. Use a length of timber to create straight drills. As a rule, the smaller the seed, the shallower the drill should be, but follow the instructions on the seed packet.

Sow seeds along the drill at the space suggested on the seed packet. Fine seeds can be thinned if you do end up sowing them too thickly.

Push soil in from either side of the drill to cover over the seed, breaking up any large lumps of soil as you go. Pat the surface of the soil to lightly firm it in place.

Dribble water along the drill using a watering can or hose to settle the soil. Keep soil moist as seed germinates and establish, removing any weeds that appear.

Our tip

Mark each end of seed drills so that you don't accidentally dig them up.

Soak large seeds in water overnight to kickstart the germination process.

Mix fine seeds with a dry silver sand and dribble it into the drill from a folded piece of paper.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to sow seeds outdoors
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jeffbubz 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Very good for newbies and for people that have taken time out from gardening. Well done Gardenmers' World again.

dave davies 27/04/2012 at 17:03

is it to early to put runner beans in i started them off intrays and they up about 3 inches they came up a bit quick i think as im new to this please could u tell me if its ok 2 put them in garden

sotongeoff 27/04/2012 at 17:29

Too early to plant them outside-Mid-May at the earliest depending on the last frost date for you area-if they are getting too advanced put the plants in a cold frame or against a sheltered wall but watch out for frosts warnings and protect as necessary.

Jessdines 13/05/2013 at 12:10

I started mine off in a shed (I dont have a greenhous,,,yet) I planted them in the garden on Fridy, they are in a sheltered area though. They seem fine. If you do plant them and there is a frost risk, just cover them with some garden fleace