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Big Sow-Plant Tips

All the seeds being used in this project come with full instructions and to get best results these should be followed as nearly as possible.

But it may be helpful to bear in mind a few general suggestions to give seeds and young plants the best chance of success:

*Some young vegetable plants are not likely to survive if transplanted (moved from a pot into a larger container or the garden).  These seeds should be sown where they can grow bigger and later be harvested.  If the young plants grow up too thickly they can be thinned out to just leave single plants at the recommended distance between them.  Beetroot, spinach beet and carrots are in this group.  Very small seeds, like carrots, can be mixed with horticultural sand (not builder’s sand) before sowing, so they don’t come up too thickly.

*Leeks are easy to grow and like being transplanted.  Sow the seeds in pots, trays or direct in the garden once the weather is warmer.  When they are about 4” or 5” high, transplant them nice and deeply where they can grow on, leaving about half their height above ground.  Water well.  They can later be earthed up as they grow to keep the long white part below ground.

*Runner beans and courgettes are good fun because they grow quickly to a fair size.  They need warm conditions and both transplant easily.  Sow indoors when frosts are over, say early May, then plant out to their final position in warm weather, watering well.  Runner beans can easily grow 2 metres high and need canes to grow up.

*Young tomato plants will transplant nicely.  Follow the instructions closely as they need TLC and like warm conditions.  Can grow well in grow-bags on the patio etc.

*Sweet peppers are an increasingly popular vegetable, previously grown in warmer climates.  They transplant well but really need warm conditions so a greenhouse, conservatory or sheltered sunny spot would be ideal.

*If seeds are to be sown in pots or trays, try to use good quality multi-purpose or seed compost.  Garden soil is likely to be difficult to work with in containers and will probably have too many stones and weed seeds.  Keep young seedlings moist and comfortably warm, but not ‘drowned’.   ‘Hardening off’ means putting young plants outside but avoid doing this in cold weather, which will stop their growth straight away.

*At all stages keep the vegetable plants watered but not over watered.  Don’t worry too much about fertiliser.  Grow bags will already be ‘just right’ to begin with and normal garden soil should do the job – a bit of organic stable manure (bags can be bought at garden centres) mixed into the soil before planting is ideal.

*The main thing is to enjoy growing your plants.  Look at them regularly and talk to them, they really do respond !   And good luck to everyone !