Once you've gotten hold of a few packets of seeds here are a few tips for successful sowing/germination. I don't always have hugely successful germination - some seeds are more difficult to get to germinate than others or various things go wrong. But I have learnt a few things from experience:
- I really like using a small watering can like the one in the picture. The brand is Haws and they are found in good garden centres. It allows you to gently water, this is important with small seeds and seedlings as they are easily washed away or flattened if the flow of water is too much.
- I also use vermiculite mixed through seed compost. I think it helps keep moisture levels somewhat regulated in the compost. I use seed compost - not multi purpose compost. It's the right nutrient level for seeds but also it doesn't have any big lumps in it. You want the compost to come into maximum contact with the seed so big air pockets around lumps in the compost don't help!
- Labelling: Write labels and put them in position BEFORE you start sowing the seeds! You very quickly forget once everything is covered up!
- Water the compost in the tray before you sow the seeds and allow a bit of time for it to settle. Also use room temperature water so the poor baby seeds don't get too much of a shock from cold water!
- Water again very gently after sowing so the seeds can settle into the compost. This is easier than pressing the compost down with your hand.
- With big seeds these precautions to do with watering don't matter quite so much but the really tiny ones are often sown right on the surface and they can easily be lost.
- Finally - read the seed packet for directions on where and when to sow. Some don't like to have their roots disturbed at all so sow into modules (trays with either 12 or 24 cells usually) rather than trays. Trays are quicker to sow into (as in picture) but you will need to thin seedlings out into modules or pots once they are big enough, so they each have their own space to grow in.
You can see that plant nurseries aren't called 'nurseries' for nothing! But the little seedlings will be big and strong before you know it!