Seeds or seedlings?
Using seedlings is easier and saves time, but the variety of available vegetables is limited. Choose the strongest, healthiest looking plants. If the seedlings start out weak, they will always struggle to grow and your harvest will be small. Growing vegetables from seed can be challenging. I planted only seedlings for the first few seasons after starting my vegetable garden before I was brave enough to try planting seeds. I started planting from seed because there is a much wider variety available. Specialist seed companies like Livingseeds and Gravel Garden have seed an amazing range of plants that are never sold as seedlings or even in grocery stores. I wanted to try the yellow tomatoes and purple carrots. The bigger seed companies are also widening their range of seeds. I bought Kirschhof broad bean seed from my florist last month. The little plants are already almost ten cm tall and growing very well.
If you stock up on seed at the beginning of the season, you always have seed available for sowing through the season when a spot opens up in your garden. Just remember to plant your seeds, not just collect them. Vegetables like spinach, carrots, lettuce and rocket can be planted throughout the year so that there is always something to harvest. Root vegetables like carrots and beetroot don’t like to be moved, so sow these directly in the vegetable bed. Others like peas, tomatoes; broccoli can be planted in seedling trays and transplanted when they are bigger.
How to protect your seedlings?
- Cut a plastic cool drink bottle in half to make a plastic cover. This will work like a mini greenhouse to keep the little plant warm.
- Cut a toilet paper roll in half to make a collar for your seedling. This will protect it from snails.
Fun for kids
- Grow your child initial or name
- Help your child to write his or her initial or name in the soil. Use any fine seeds that germinate quickly and sprinkle the seeds in the grooves where you have written the name. Cover carefully and keep moist. What a surprise when the seeds come up!
Samantha van Riet Paarl: www.samvanriet.co.za