Start sowing in winter
Discover the gorgeous flowers and delicious veg you can start from seed in winter, with Sally Nex
All I really want to do at this time of year is retreat indoors, light the fire and bury myself in seed catalogues dreaming about what I’ll be growing next season. But I do brave the elements now and again as, even in winter, there are seeds to be sown!
More seed sowing advice:
Winter seed sowing inspiration
Plants featured in this video
I’ve only recently discovered sowing onions from seed after years of planting sets – those immature bulbs you put in later in spring. It’s more of a faff, but it’s worth it: you get more choice, and I’ve been really impressed by the results, with bigger bulbs which don’t bolt as easily. Sow them into trays from early January somewhere warm, then keep the seedlings under cover till April, when you can transplant them outside.
I love a good hot chilli pepper – the best I ever grew was a rocoto, or tree chilli, about two metres tall and weighed down with hundreds of lipstick-red, lip-numbingly hot fruits. Most are a bit smaller than that – but there are loads to choose from, from tiny superhot bird chillies to sultry chocolate habaneros. The trick is to sow in February into a heated propagator, then keep them inside the greenhouse where they can bask in the sun.
In the depths of winter, the sight of delicate daffodils unfurling their pure white petals on your windowsills is a real tonic – especially when they’re sweetly scented too. You can force paperwhite daffs to flower super-early by potting up some bulbs in gritty compost now; keep them in a cool shed till shoots appear, then bring them into the warmth of the house. In three or four weeks your windowsills will be a mass of flowers - the perfect antidote to the winter blues.
We’re all used to buying our summer bedding as plug plants from the garden centre – but it’s really satisfying, and cheaper to grow your own from seed at home. You will need to start early – January in my house – and use a heated propagator. But it’s worth it: I’ve got a particular soft spot for bedding geraniums sown by the dozen then packed into pots for a really cheerful dolly mixture display of summer colour.
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