This month we have a guest post from Chris Collins, Head of Organic Horticulture from Garden Organic.
It is this time of year that suddenly a day will come when finally after a long winter, everybody will feel the warmth of the sun on their face again. It’s such a welcome feeling and also very exciting time for our outdoor spaces.
This is the time to get busy in the garden, particularly for producing plants.
Tips for seed germination
Watching a seed come to life and grow into a plant is a wonder that never gets tiring.
So here are some ideas for getting your seed going.
Firstly if there is a budget, I really recommend investing in a couple of propagators. These are basically mini greenhouses that can be kept in the classroom and used to start all those tender crops that will need protection from the spring cold.
Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Courgettes, Squash and Pumpkins will all germinate well in a propagator, which can then be grown on indoors until it’s time to plant out.
Starting these plants like this means that you will be planting out strong healthy plants. It will extend your growing season, hopefully meaning you will get plenty of crops before the summer term ends.
Raking and treading soil
Seeds, however also give us the chance to get outside and get our Carrots and Broad Beans growing. The soil will be all nicely dug from the winter gardening, now we can rake and tread it.
This entails using the rake to create a soil as level as possible. Use it to take out any lumps or dips. Treading means to use the back of your heels to firm down the whole area. It means a funny walk across the soil but it takes out all the air pockets and allows smooth capillary action enabling water movement in the soil.
Once you’ve done this, Carrots can be sown in drills. Put down a line of string across your plot, make a small trench along the line (use a piece of bamboo) and sow your seeds (check the packet for spacing tips), cover over, water and label.
A good tip is to use a watering can with a rose head, turn the rose so its facing upward, this will create a fine water spray when poured and thus prevents you washing out and displacing those carefully sown seeds. Using a line (drill) to sow seeds like this means when they grow into seedlings you will know what they are and distinguish them from any weeds growing at the same time in the surrounding soil.
Window ledge herb garden
On the topic of edible plants, a small herb garden can be made and sit outside on a window ledge.
You can get yourself a pot or is there something we can recycle?
You can use many things for a pot just remember that it will need drainage, so make sure you can put holes in the bottom of it. Herbs don’t like wet feet, so mix peat-free compost with some gravel or sand. Maybe put some gravel in the bottom of the pot too.
If you are putting it on a window sill make sure it fits before adding the compost.
Then start to collect and plant your herbs. Small herbs like Parsley and Coriander can be grown from seed. Larger herbs, like Lavender and Rosemary can be bought, quite cheaply from the garden centre and why not see if anyone has Oregano or Lemon Balm as these can easily be divided up – maybe someone’s Grandma has some in her garden somewhere!
Head of Organic Horticulture – Garden Organic
From a monthly blog by Chris Collins, Head of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic, on How to Create and Grow a Garden. For more, visit www.foodgrowingschools.org or www.gardenorganic.org.uk