September 1 is the first day of spring - the perfect day to get out in the garden & plant some seeds. People get really excited about this, but often see poor results. Below is a bit of a "how to" guide on seed sowing to give you the best chance of success!
Step One: Choose your seeds
The best seeds to plant at this time of year include all your summer vegies: tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, beans, zucchini; and flowers: marigolds, cosmos, zinnias. There are loads more, see www.yates.co.nz for a full range of seeds to sow in September.
Step Two: What to sow where
Lots of seeds can be sown directly in the garden where they are to grow. Some, like carrots, radishes and beetroot, can be direct sown into well prepared soil almost year round. But this early in the season, while the soil is still cold and wet, it's safer to sow those that require warm soil temperatures in trays or pots.
Small seeds, such as basil and petunias are generally best sown into seed trays using specially formulated seed raising mix like Black Magic. It holds moisture, yet drains easily so seeds don't get too wet.
Larger seeds, like beans and corn that don't generally enjoy being transplanted, can be sown in peat pots to give them a head start. Fill peat pots with Black Magic Seed Raising Mix. Sow 2 seeds in each pot and place the pots in a warm, shaded and sheltered spot until seeds germinate.
When plants are about 5cm high and all danger of frost has passed, plant them out into the garden - pot and all. The peat pots will bio-degrade as the plants grow. Easy!
Step Three: Correct sowing
Tiny seeds require light to grow. Simply scatter them over the top of a seed tray filled with Black Magic Seed Raising Mix and then gently press them into the surface of the soil. This allows them to make good contact with the soil and absorb moisture from it.
A good tip is to use a spray bottle to just moisten the mix, rather than soak it with a watering can. Overly wet soil can rot the seeds. You can also use Black Magic Seed Raising Mix to improve germination rates when sowing directly into a garden bed.
Large seeds generally prefer darkness to germinate, so they need to be sown at a depth of about twice their diameter. For example, sow beans about 2cm deep. Burying large seeds also helps soften the hard seed coat, which aids germination. Keep them 'just moist' (not too wet) to avoid seeds rotting off.
As all seeds have slightly different requirements, it does pay to check the instructions on the back of packs to make sure the seed you are planting doesn't require any special treatment.
If you're looking for something to do with the kids, get their green fingers growing early. Radishes, baby carrots, rocket, cosmos and alyssum are all really easy care & grow really quickly. All of the above can be planted directly into the garden now, so simply prepare a small patch of ground and get the kids sowing!
Kids just love the miracle of watching seeds germinate, grow into plants, and if they're edible, picking stuff to eat for dinner!
Don't think for a minute that because you don't have a garden you can't get involved with spring seed sowing. All of the options above can be done in containers on a balcony or deck. Particularly handy if you want to save some space are the new and innovative Yates Fusion Series.
Little pellets contain about 5 seeds of different varieties, each producing a fusion of flowers or salad greens. Totally amazing!
Early in the season when the chance of inclement weather is high on the cards, it's worth taking the time to sow smaller seeds in trays or pots. Use Black Magic Seed Raising Mix and don't over water them! Use a spray bottle to just moisten the mix but conversely, don't let it dry out either.
Once seedlings are established and any risk of a polar blast is over, transplant them into the garden.