Direct Sowing Vegetables and Flowers

Direct Sowing Vegetables and Flowers

Written by Andrew Oldham: 

When I first started gardening I had a front garden the size of a parking space. Most of the garden was taken up by the path to the front door and like many of you I grew in pots. Those first couple of years gardening were about going to the garden centre, buying bedding plants, filling the pots with bedding plants.

Over time I wondered why garden centres produced the same plants year in-year out. I made the step into garden catalogues and suddenly there were hundreds of varieties, thousands of seeds. I was scared witless by the idea of direct sowing. I didn’t know my weeds from my wallflowers but direct sowing is a must for all gardeners. I now confidently mix packets of annual flowers with Russian kale to create a riot of colour and textures in my garden.

It also means that each year I can have a new look in beds and pots from the edible garden to the floral swathe or a mix of both! A mixed garden of pots filled with brightly coloured ruby red lettuces punctuated by the ethereal foliage of nigella brings joy to anyone’s heart. Likewise, a floral display can race up the pastel colour range of cosmos and cleome and into the blaze of calendula and poppies making anyone walking up your garden path smile and bringing in every bee and butterfly in your community.

Cosmos Seeds

Direct sowing, in early May, in pots is easy for the new gardener. Use old containers from the kitchen, punch holes in the bottom for drainage or invest in some terracotta pots; in both cases remember to put crocks in the bottom (broken pieces of pot or gravel) to help with drainage after watering. Fill the pots with a quality peat free compost leaving 2-3 inches of pot rim showing, water and top up with compost if needed.

Growing Seeds

You can choose from hundreds of varieties to sow in pots, just look for annuals. Sprinkle your annual seed, flowers or vegetables, across the surface of the compost and cover with a thin scattering of compost. For those who feel a little braver the same can be done in open ground but here you will compete with weed seeds.

The best way to outcompete the weeds is to prepare your bed in March: weed, clear and cover in clear plastic. Weed seeds will germinate and the clear plastic will magnify the early spring sunshine and cook them to death. Then in early May, take away the clear plastic, clear away any dead plants, rake over the soil and lightly sprinkle the annuals over the bed, lightly press the seed into the soil with your hands, water and wait.

You can get creative with annuals, creating shapes from concentric circles to regimented lines but there is one thing you will have done, you will have created a unique, vibrant garden that will change from year to year.


Cart page