Get your green thumb on with these tips for sowing seeds early. By starting your planting ahead of schedule, you can have beautiful flowers and delicious veggies before you know it. But it's not just about timing - to give your seeds the best shot at success, you'll want to take some steps to avoid mishaps like damping off (a pesky fungal disease). So read on for tips on germinating, sowing seeds, and caring for your seedlings. 

sowing seeds

use a grow light

If you're sowing seeds early in the year, it's important to take steps to ensure successful germination. One useful tip is to use a growing lamp, especially with the low light levels early in the year. This can help prevent seedlings from becoming leggy and etiolated, ensuring that they germinate and grow strong and healthy.

keep it clean

Before planting your seeds, be sure to wash all pots, trays, and anything else that comes into contact with them. A thorough scrub and rinse with some greenhouse disinfectant can help prevent any unwanted germs or pests from causing problems for your seedlings.

new seedling compost

new soil is better

Don't use old bags of compost that have been lying around, even if unopened. It's better to start with a fresh bag of compost for the best results. If you're feeling adventurous, you could even try making your own compost with household waste.

use fresh seeds

It's best to start with new packets of seeds as they germinate faster and give you more seedlings. Really old seeds may not even sprout, which means you'd be wasting time and good soil. If you are carrying over seeds, keep your seeds in a cool, dry place and keeping your seeds organised is easy with a seed box. There are many options, from sturdy steel toolboxes to handmade containers. 

go custom on your seed soil

Mix up your own custom growing mix by adding vermiculite, perlite, and/or sand or grit to suit the needs of your specific seeds. If you have space, consider setting up a potting bench in your greenhouse or on your patio to make the process easier.

watering seedlings 

After sowing the seeds, give them a good drink of water and continue to monitor them closely. It's important not to let the soil dry out completely, but be cautious not to overwater the seedlings. Check them daily and water them sparingly as needed. A watering can with a rose attachment is gentle enough to use on delicate seedlings without causing damage.

Dibbing seedlings

promptly pot on your seedlings

When your seedlings have grown their first set of true leaves, it's time to transplant them from the seed tray to their own pots. This gives them enough space to grow and reduces the risk of damping off. To transplant them, gently loosen the soil around each seedling with a pencil or dibber, and carefully move them to their new pot.