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Grow it yourself Seed sowing tips from our gardening guru

first_img Michael Kelly Apr 15th 2017, 12:30 PM 551 Views Short URL I’VE BEEN ASKED a lot about my approach to sowing seeds and it seems an opportune time to write about that. Though some seeds are best started off in pots (tomatoes, aubergines, celery), the majority of my seed sowing is done in module trays.A module tray is a tray with individual compartments or modules in it. A decent sized tray will measure 335 x 515mm and have between 80 and 150 modules in them. They are made from tough plastic so they can be used again and again.The beauty of a module tray is that the roots of seedlings are kept apart which means you don’t upset them when you are transplanting them.Working the compostBefore you fill the tray with compost, it’s important to work with the compost a little first.Break up any larger clumps – this is important because smaller seeds might fall down through the cracks and fail to germinate because they’re too deep in the compost. I start by completely overfilling the tray with compost and working it in to the modules with my hands.Banging the tray against the bench a few times will help the compost to settle down in to the container. Overfill it again.Then, I use a flat stick or piece of timber to “slice” the excess compost off the top of the tray, leaving a flat, clean surface on the module tray.Seed sowing Source: Shutterstock/jananya sriphairotBefore sowing the seeds I make a “divot” in each module with my fingers. This is the little recess in the compost into which you will drop the seed.I usually use two fingers from each hand to do four modules at a time to speed things up. How deep you make the divot depends on how deep the seeds need to be.A good rule of thumb is that you sow the seed roughly twice as deep as the seed’s size. So, a tiny lettuce seed is almost on top of the surface, while a larger seed like a squash or pumpkin would be much deeper.Depending on the size of the seed, you can either pick one up and drop it into the divot; or use a plant label to move it off the palm of your hand and let it fall into the divot.With most vegetables, you will be sowing one seed per module but with others (for example oriental greens) you might be sowing 3-4 seeds per module. It’s really important to label the tray. I use white plastic labels and a pencil so they can be washed off and reused.I always write the name of the veg, the variety and the date it was sown on the label, so for example “Beetroot, Detroit Globe, 17/04/17”). That way if germination is slow you can check how long it was since it was sown.To cover the seeds, I then overfill the tray with compost again and slice the excess off with my trusty stick to leave a flat surface again. I then bring the trays outside and water them on the ground outside the potting shed. I use a fine mist setting on the hose, but a fine rose on a watering can is just as good.Check out the videos in the Get Growing section of giy.ie to see the seed sowing in action.The Basics – Top Tips for Seed SowingIf you are still not having success with your seed sowing, keep an eye out for the following:Planting Depth – you could have sowed your seeds too deep or too shallow. Check the seed packet and try again.Old seed – seeds that are past their “sow before’ date will often struggle to germinate. It’s a good idea to discard old seed or at least do a germination test before sowing big quantities. Make sure you are buying good quality seed.Temperature and water – different vegetables have different requirements in terms of their preferred temperature and the amount of water they get.Mould – a formation of mould on the surface of the soil is often a problem when the temperature is cold and the trays have been overwatered. Poor ventilation can compound the problem. Placing a fan in the area will keep air circulating.Recipe of the Week – Spinach Soup with Wild Garlic Toasts Source: Shutterstock/MalyuginA bowl of soup and a crusty bread roll get a glamorous makeover with this vibrant dish from Adam Gray. Wild garlic is easily foraged. It has long green leaves and a distinctive garlicky smell, and as in this recipe, it can be cooked or used raw in salads or as a garnish.IngredientsSpinach soup50g of butter250g of shallots, finely sliced200g of potatoes, finely sliced1.75kg spinach leaves50g of wild garlic leaves1.75l vegetable stocksaltpepperWild garlic cheese toasts200g of cream cheese15g of wild garlic leaves, raw and finely chopped1 egg yolk8 bread rolls (or blaas)olive oilDirectionsFor the spinach soup, melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the shallots and potatoes. Sweat with no colour until the vegetables start to soften.In another pan, bring the vegetable stock to the boil and remove from the heat. Add the picked, pre-washed spinach and wild garlic leaves. Sweat for a further minute only and remove from the heat.Add the boiling stock and blend until smooth immediately to retain the fresh, green colour. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl over ice. This is done to cool the soup quickly to stop browning. Season to taste with salt and pepperFor the wild garlic cheese toasts, divide the egg yolk in half, discarding one half. Mix all the ingredients together except the bread rolls and olive oil, seasoning with the salt and pepper to taste. Slice the top and bottom off the rolls and then cut in half.Spread 2-3mm of the cheese mixture on one side of one half of the roll. Place the other half on top, making a sandwich. Repeat with the rest of the rolls. Place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to set.Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the rolls on both sides until golden brown. Serve the spinach soup with the wild garlic cheese toasts on the side.Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ. Click here for more GIY tips and recipes. Grow it yourself: Seed sowing tips from our gardening guru It’s the perfect time of the year to talk about sowing seeds, writes Michael Kelly. Saturday 15 Apr 2017, 12:30 PM http://jrnl.ie/3335193 Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Grower Share Tweet Email14 29 Comments By Michael Kellylast_img read more