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11 Jan 2016
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Loving life - seed planting
Filed under Millbrook Blog

  Seeds to plant in January...

Seeds to be used in beds, borders, containers and pots, such as pansies, lobelia and geranium will benefit from being sown early in the year. Keep them inside in a sunny spot and they will provide you with a beautiful display throughout the summer months.

If you would like to grow your own flowers to pick and enjoy indoors, sweet pea and carnation seeds can be sown in January, there’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying a vase of your own home grown cut flowers!

  If you fancy trying your hand at growing your own veg, then now is the time to sow leeks, cabbage and Swiss chard seeds; they’ll need to be kept inside until they are ready to pot-on. If you’re brave enough to venture outside then broad beans can go straight into the ground, provided it isn’t frozen! If you fancy trying your luck at the local village fete, then plant your onion seeds now and you can expect lovely big
onions in the summer!

Salad and spinach seeds can be grown on sunny windowsills for fresh salad from early spring.

Similar to above, herbs can be planted now and if kept on a windowsill, will provide fresh seasoning throughout the year.

  Although not strictly a 'seed', you can get going with your seed potatoes. Simply put the seed potatoes in trays in a light, cool, frost-free place and leave them to sprout (make sure that you put the tubers with the ‘eye’ end upwards) – known as 'chitting'.

Once established, and once the risk of frost has passed, you can harden off and then plant out your seedlings and watch them grow.
Not only will growing from seed save you money, it is also incredibly rewarding. To help get you started, we’re offering our Millbrook family members half price seeds (excludes grass and bird) throughout January along with great offers on related products, click here to find out more. If you’re not quite ready to sow your seeds yet, then don’t worry as they will keep in their packets for some time.

Plant Plain Speaking:

Growing from seed is not something that can only be done by experienced gardeners. Don’t be put off by gardening jargon - anybody can get enjoyment from growing from seeds. To help take out some of the mystery, here are a few simple explanations of some common terms used when growing: 

Propagate - to breed specimens of a plant by natural processes from the parent stock - in other words growing from seed
or by taking cuttings from the stem or leaf of a plant

Propagator - a type of container designed to provide the ideal conditions for germinating seeds in

Germinate - when a seed begins to grow and put out roots and shoots 

Seed compost - a special type of growing substance which contains exactly the right amount of nutrients for a new seedling to encourage healthy root development. Don't be tempted to use general purpose compost since it contains different levels of nutrients which may ‘burn’ the seedlings and cause them to grow tall and weak.

To heat or not to heat?
Most seeds will benefit from warmth to help them germinate but check the seed packet for details. You can buy a heated propagator or just put a seed tray on a window sill with a plastic bag over the tray to create an indoor greenhouse. Don’t be tempted to put them in an airing cupboard, since they do need light.

Damping off - this is another word for ‘rotting’! It is important to keep the seed compost moist but not water-logged. In addition if your seeds are in a propagator with a lid or a seed tray covered with a plastic bag, check to make sure that there is no condensation building up. Too much water will cause ‘damping off’ and ultimately death to your seedlings!

Pricking out and potting on
- teasing out individual seedlings and re-planting them in bigger pots or cells to encourage the roots to establish. 

Hardening off
- gradually exposing tender seedlings to the harsher conditions of the great outdoors. Hardening off times depend on the type of plants you are growing but allow a minimum of ten days to do this, preferably longer. Start by putting the trays in a sheltered position outdoors for two hours during daylight. Slowly increase the period that the plants are outside so that by the time the frosts are finished, the plants are fully conditioned to being outside. Don't forget that as well as avoiding frost, the trays will need watering but protect them from heavy rain and waterlogged compost!

Cold Frame - a very useful aid to successful hardening off is a cold frame. It's just a container outside with a lid of plastic or glass that can be opened or closed. It should be large enough to accommodate all the seed trays, but can be a very simple, inexpensive structure. During the day, the lid is opened or removed altogether and put back into position overnight.  

We hope this blog has inspired you to choose some seeds and get sowing and plan your perfect 2017 garden.

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