Ok, I know it was only the other day that I was talking about practicing patience, but there are now a few things that we can be sowing! On the 14th of February (or thereabouts depending on where you are in the UK) we start to see over 10 hours of daylight. This seems to be the magic number for starting healthy seeds.
The average seed contains just about enough energy to support the plant right up until it has a root and two leaves (4 in some cases). The first root is called the radicle, and goes down in search of water and nutrients. The first leaf or leaves push up through the earth and unfurl to start collecting light. The first leaves are called the Cotyledons. Plants that produce just one leaf from the seed are called Monocotyledons, and plants that produce a pair of leaves are called Dicotyledons.
If when these leaves push out of the earth, they do not find enough light to sustain and grow the plant, the plant will suffer as a result. I talked about this in my last post. BUT the good news is that we now have those daylight hours that we need to get seeds started.
This week I will be sowing lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, kale, early cabbage, broad beans and spring onions. All of these things can go outside more or less straight away as soon as they are big enough. They are all cold tolerant so won’t mind going outside, and sowing now will ensure that they have enough light to grow strong instead of leggy.
I’ll also be sowing chillis, peppers and aubergines in the greenhouse on heat mats. These plants are the exception to the rule. They aren’t really supposed to grow in the British climate, and they need a long growing season. So sow them now, but give them some help in the form of extra heat, and if you can, keep Chillis and Peppers in a greenhouse or poly tunnel throughout their growing season. Aubergines are notoriously difficult to get pollinated so if you’re growing them indoors think about planting some flowers to lure in pollinators and make sure that they have a way of getting in (leaving doors open!). You can also put aubergine’s outside in a warm sunny spot.
A greenhouse is the perfect place to sow seeds. Double glazed windows that most houses have now filter out so many of the sun’s UVs making windowsills not a great option. If you don’t have a greenhouse a clear plastic box turned upside down works fine too. Raise it off the ground for a little extra warmth. Alternatively, sow in a conservatory or porch, or somewhere where the light comes from all angles and the seedlings should be fine. Grow lights are an option if you don’t have anywhere else to sow, but remember they are never as good as the sun!
Happy Sowing 💚