K's Garden

Building a large garden on a budget

Sow Direct or Raise Plants? Wednesday 9 March 2011


Its a good question. Sowing direct is less faff (but perhaps not as much less as you might think).

I grow almost everything in pots, and plant out when they are large enough. This is the more-faff route.

To sow direct you need warm soil – seeds planted in cold, wet, soil in January or February (or even early March) will just rot. But to be able to raise plants in pots at that time you need plenty of space in a greenhouse, or on windowsills (and an understanding partner!)

Some things don’t need much heat. Onion seed needs a bit of heat to get it to germinate, but as soon as it has germinated it can be outside (a cold greenhouse, or cold-frame is better, but keeping it in a centrally heated house will do more harm that good – e.g. encourage the plant to “bolt” later in the season). Brassicas (Cabbage, Cauliflowers, Sprouts etc) resent having heat when they are germinating and as young plants.

But things which are more tender, such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Melons, Peppers (Sweet and Chilli), Aubergines, need heat to germinate and heat to carry on growing – they need a minimum temperature of 10C, so even a cold greenhouse is not warm enough for them in February and March (but a cold greenhouse will do if you are prepared to bring the plants in at night – obviously a greenhouse near the house is much more suitable than one several miles bike ride away on an allotment!)

Next page (Sowing seeds direct)

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2 Responses to “Sow Direct or Raise Plants?”

  1. Thats an excellent article, that should help many people. The pros definately beat the cons hands down when it comes to indoor sowing when all points are considered. No wonder my greenhouse, propagators, windowsills, mini greenhouses are all packed to capacity.


  2. Melinda Says:

    Thanks so much for linking back to this post Kristen. 🙂

    There is some really useful and reasurring advice there.

    I dont often sow directly largely because of space; I dont like to have bare soil while something is germinating. I tend to run a ‘one in, one out’ system. So as Im removing something, Im replacing it with something else.

    As well as having a veg patch, Ive mixed the bulk of my veg, including climbers in with my flowers and shrubs. If I direct sow in my beds, then the chances are I’d forget Id sown something and over sow with something else!

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