Seed Sowing Tips
When you’re thinking about sowing vegetable seeds there are two important decisions to be made. Do you sow indoors or out and do you sow the seed into individual little holes made with a dibber or into narrow channels known as drills? With dribber in hand, this is what you should do.
Do I sow my seed indoors into a seed tray or outdoors into a seed bed?
If what you are sowing is not frost hardy, that is it would be killed by a frost, then you will probably want to start the seed off indoors in a seed tray. By the time the risk of frost has passed in the early summer you will then have small plants ready to plant out. This works well for tender plants such as tomatoes, chillis, sweetcorn and squashes .
If what you are sowing is more hardy, like brassicas and leeks, then these are best sown directly into a seed bed. A seed bed is a patch of bare ground that has been previously manured and is now broken down to a fine tilth i.e. its now small crumbs not big clods.
Some crops don’t like to be moved so they should be sown in their final position, like rootcrops and onion sets. Other crops prefer to be sown more closely together and then moved to their final position once they have a few leaves, crops like cabbages and leeks. Peas and beans are happy to do either, so they can be moved if their final position wasn’t ready when you sowed them.
Do I drill or do I dib?
This depends on how precious the seed is. If the packet contains hundreds or even thousands of tiny seeds, like lettuces and leeks, then drilling makes sense. Sprinkle the soil with water then drag the dribber along the soil to make narrow channels. If you want the plants to be tightly packed, maybe for transplanting later, sow seed in each channel. If you want more space between rows, for example for carrots or parsnips, only sow seed into alternate channels. Then push a little soil back into the channels and firm down with the back of the dribber.
For larger seeds that you have fewer of like cucumber and squash its better to dib than to drill. Push the dribber into the soil to a depth of about two times the size of the seed, then drop one or two seeds into each hole. If you’re sowing the seed into the final position, the 5cm spacing of the holes may be too tight, so leave one hole empty for 10cm spacing or two holes empty for 15cm spacing, then fill each hole and tamp with the back of the dribber. The spacing will depend partly on the seed variety but also on your personal preference. With wider spacing you will get larger plants, but you will need more space and more energy for weeding.