A simple guide to sowing seeds

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follow these five steps to grow from seed

  1. Get any tools and seed-trays ready for sowing seeds. 
  2. Sieve and prepare compost for sowing the seeds in.
  3. How to sow seeds. 
  4. How to help germinate your seeds.
  5. Tips for transplanting seedlings.
  6. Watering and caring for transplanted seedlings.
from seed to seedlings in six easy steps
from seed to seedlings

Really easy ways to sow seeds, germinate them and transplant the seedlings

Use these easy to follow sowing guidelines to sow seeds and watch them germinate and grow into healthy plants. 

Sowing seeds to grow your own fruit, vegetables or flowers to decorate your home is a lot cheaper than buying seedlings or plants in pots and probably a lot healthier, you know where the plants have come from.

So save money and experience the taste and pleasure of growing your own from seed

Tools you will need to sow seeds. 

You will need a sieve to break down the compost until its as fine as you can get it.

A small block of wood, or a tamper if you have got one for firming the compost, I use the back of my hand to firm the surface.

A fine sprayer to keep the seeds and seedlings moist.

An old table or any raised surface so you're not bending, especially if you have a bad back. 

Compost for sowing the seeds in.

If you have a compost heap and can make your own, it may need a little more sieving, but its better and cheaper. Fill your trays or pots to just below the rim, and level the surface making sure not to compact it

How to sow seeds.

The label on the packet is your best guide to sowing seeds, some will need to be placed in a warm place, some will not. If you are using seeds saved by friends or neighbours ask them.


The seed packet is your best bet for sowing depth and spacing, but as a general rule, seeds can be sown as below.

50 small seeds or 10 medium seeds or 3 large seeds in a 75mm (3 inch) pot.

100 small seeds or 30 medium seeds in a half size seed tray. 

200 small seeds or 50 medium seeds in a full-size seed tray. 


larger types of seeds, like Broad beans are easy to spread evenly, but tiny fine seeds are not so easy. The best way to sow small fine seeds, is to tip a few into the palm of your hand, take a pinch and sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface of the compost.

Next sprinkle sieved compost over the seed trays or pots to just cover the seeds. label them with the plant name and date of sowing. That's it you've sown your seeds.

Seeds can be sown in seeds trays, pots, plug pots or directly into the ground, read the label. 

Plant Labels take the guesswork out of identifying the seedlings, if you sow all of the seeds, use the seed packet.

Try Keeping a constant temperature. 

If you are not using a propagator or a heated greenhouse covering the tray with glass or even cling film works in the same way.

Watering newly sown seeds

Stand the seed containers in about 1/2 of water until you see the water rising through the seed compost making the surface moist. Be careful not to saturate, as this could cause the seeds to rot.

Keep the compost moist with a fine spray, you will need to keep an eye on the compost to see it does not dry out, especially if the seeds are being grown in a greenhouse, under glass or in full sun.

Germination of your seeds.

Cover your seed trays or pots with glass or clear plastic or in a covered propagator and place in a light area that isn't in direct sunlight  The time taken for your seeds to germinate will also be on the seed packet.

Once the seeds have germinated and the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them giving them room to spread their roots, and to grow their stems and replace the seed leaves with maturing leaves.


Transplanting seedlings. 

Some seedlings can be transplanted directly into prepared beds in the garden others will need to be transplanted into larger containers to harden off or until they are sturdy enough to be planted out. Follow the advice on the  seed packet.

Be extra careful when transplanting seedlings not to damage the fragile stems and roots, it is a good Ideal to dig out the seedlings with a dibber or blunt knife and hold the seedlings by the seed leaves, not the stem.  You will damage some seedlings and may find some week and spindly plants caused by overcrowding, there is no point in trying to save them.


Watering and caring for transplanted seedlings

Stand the tray or pots of transplanted seedlings in a container with about a 1/2 inch of water and leave it until you see the surface of the compost just becoming moist, once again being careful not to let the compost become saturated. Plants that have been transplanted directly into the garden will also need watering until the roots become established. It is really important the seedlings are not allowed to dry out, so keep the compost or soil moist.


Keep the transplanted seedlings in a light position and if you are growing in a greenhouse keep the young plants out of  direct sunlight. If the seedlings are placed in a shady area they will grow long and spindly looking for and toward light. Week spindly seedlings should be discarded. 

The top tip I can give, if you are a beginner at sowing seeds, is to read and follow the advice on the seed packet.

My growing your own page lists a few easy to sow and grow plants.