How To Sow Outdoors

Catalogue). Sow 1cm (Min) deep in rows 30cm (1ft) apart. Cover immediately with fleece or garden mesh as flea beetle can decimate young seedlings with their round 'shot' holes.

Lettuces, radishes and salad onions It's best to sow only short rows of these salad crops to avoid creating a glut. Sow 1cm (Miin) deep. Alternatively, sow into pots or plug trays and plant out next month (May).

Peas and mangetout Pea plants help to support each other if you sow by sprinkling the seed along the bottom of a 5cm (2in) deep and15cm (6in) wide drill made with a hoe. Rake the soil back over them and firm with the back of the rake head.

STEP-BY-STEP

1 Even though home gardens and allotments don't have really long rows, such as those at Wimpole Hall, it is still worth putting down a line to ensure straight lines. You don't need to buy an expensive one. Two sticks and a length of string are just as good 2 Next walk along the line and use your hoe to make a drill into which to sow. If the soil is dry, water along the drill now, before sowing. Covering with dry soil afterwards prevents water loss from around the seeds 3 Tip some seed into your hand and gradually dribble out a few seeds along the row, ensuring an even, thin spread. This avoids waste and thinning later on. Sowing thinly can also discourage disease 4 Close the drill with the feet (if well practised) or the hoe if you prefer

Hot tip

Immediately push in pea sticks along the row or erect posts and netting as this helps prevent pigeons and other birds from pecking the young seedlings as they emerge.

Pumpkins and squashes It's too soon to sow outside in April, but if you want to make sure of an early crop, sow one seed on edge in individual pots of compost, with its top edge buried about 1cm (/2in). This helps prevent them from rotting. Ideally, place in a heated propagator or set on a warm windowsill indoors.

Sweetcorn Thanks to Dave Hales (KG Mar 05-Feb 06), I have discovered that almost 100 per cent of sweetcorn seed germinates if you sow it in trays or pots of moist compost and then barely cover it with compost and place in a heated propagator or greenhouse. I used to follow the common advice of covering with 1cm (/2in) of compost and found that up to 40 per cent of seed rotted before germinating.

Onions Sow in rows 1cm (Min) deep, with at least 30cm (1ft) between rows. Onions sown in pots last month (March) need transplanting into individual cell trays

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