Are you trying to shake your way back into the usual routine after a week or so of hibernation or are you going stir crazy with being indoors after all the rain that we have had. You might be still exhausted after all the Christmas rush and need another holiday. Well however you may be feeling we are on the right side of winter. Spring is on its way, ok well not for another month or two, but the light is slowly returning and finally we seem to have some let up from all the rain we have been having. There are some positives. One thing is for certain is that we are all craving colour.
You are probably all itching to get out in the garden and start your seed sowing but patience is a virtue here. The light levels are very low, its still cold so just hold off a bit longer but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead and get prepared. There are lots of things you can do and the good thing is most of them you can do indoors, keeping warm with a pot of tea. Get your seed box out, this might be a little bundle tied up with string, it might be am old shoe box or it might be a big plastic box with dividers all sorted by name or by month to sow, depending on how bad your seed addiction is and how orderly you are. Throwout or giveaway anything you don’t want to sow again and the ones you want to grow again check you have enough seed. Then you know where you are and you won’t accidently order something twice.
Then you can look through your seed catalogues, browse the Higgledy Garden website and think about what you might want to try this year. But if you need some inspiration or if you are starting from scratch and are new to this glorious adventure of growing flowers from seed then we are here for you. We want to ease you in gently to the new growing season so there are a few super hardy annuals that are really easy to start with. So here we have the Higgledy Garden Easy-Peasy early sowing mix.
Plus a freebie with your bundle of Phacelia, that ultimate bee magnet!
Some of these seeds you can sow now, Sweet Peas you can sow from now until early spring. You just need to give them a bit of warmth for germination and once the little green shoots are poking up above the soil move them to a cool sheltered spot. I sow into root trainers or square 9cm pots 2 seeds per module of the root trainer or 2-3 per 9cm pot. I use Sylvagrow multipurpose peat free compost and have had excellent germination for many years. Pinch the tips out when they have a few sets of leaves and they will stay compact and not too leggy producing sideshoots. I plant mine out in early April, they can sit and sulk for a bit but soon settle down and start growing. Then train them up your support and there you go they will soon romp away.
Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’, oh how I dream of the scent of this flower. One of the best scented sweet pea, so whilst it may have smaller flowers and shorter stems than other varieties it makes up for it in scent. A big bunch of these can fill your room with perfume. The trick with these is to pick stems, tendrils and flowers so that you have more to play with in a bouquet. It will go well with Sweet Pea ‘Winston Churchill’, a deep crimson red with nice long stems and a good scent and then to add a bit of sophistication we have added the clean white flowered Sweet Pea ‘Swan Lake’.
Cobaea scandens can be sown from early Feb but just bear in mind that they are frost tender so once germinated they need to be potted on and kept in a frost free place until the risk of frosts have passed. More information on sowing Cobaea can be found on this blog. I sowed mine in mid-february last year into modules or straight into 9cm pots if you have the room, they are nice big flat disc like seeds so I sow them on their sides. They need some warmth for germination and you will need to pot on once they get too big for the pot. They may need some support in the pot, like a mini wigwam of canes. I planted mine out in the garden in mid-May but depending on where you are in the country it might be earlier or later depending on the dates of your last frost. Have some fleece handy if you are unsure.
The others in the list are good, reliable hardy varieties that can cope with a bit of cold and will get you started in early summer with a lovely mix of beautiful flowers. They are also all really easy to grow. There are two options for sowing if you are able to sow undercover then our advice at Higgledy would be to wait till early March, then the light levels are improving, its starting to warm up and the seeds will germinate quickly. The second option, if you don’t have any protection, is to sow direct into the soil but in this case it would be better to wait till April when the soil temperature will be warmer. A good indicator of when the soil temperature is warm enough is when you start seeing weed seeds germinating in your garden. Then you know it is time to sow your hardy annuals.
Larkspur can sometimes be a little tricky to get to germinate but the key with these is to either sow early and allow them though to go through a cold spell in your greenhouse or even easier put the seed packet in your fridge for a couple of weeks and then sow them. They need a cold spell to break the dormancy on the seeds.
If sowing undercover, sow into good peat free compost in 9cm pots or in seed trays. Seed is precious and if possible you should sow the seeds individually, but some seeds are so small that this is almost impossible but in this case just sow as thinly as possible. Just sow what you need. The rest will often keep for another year at least. Cover lightly with more compost and water from below by sitting the pots or seed trays in a tray of water. They will benefit from some warmth for germination and once they have germinated either thin out or prick out into larger pots. Plant out after the risk of frost has passed
If sowing direct, prepare the bed by clearing any weeds and raking over so that the soil is nice and loose and friable (posh word for crumbly and light!). Then you can either broadcast sow where you sow seed over the whole area or you can sow in rows. The advantage of sowing in rows is you can spot any weed seeds that germinate in between the rows and can confidently remove them.
So what is in the selection, there is Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’, this a real stunner a proper clear blue and much loved by bees. Calendula ‘Ice Maiden’ a really classy Calendula with big pale yellow flowers almost white. Nigella ‘Alba’ a pure white Nigella flower which is just as good looking once the flower has faded with beautiful balloon-like seed pods. Larkspur ‘Imperials’ comes in a range of blues, purples and pinks and adds to spikiness to your bouquets. Ammi majus that wonderful umbel. Corncockle a real toughie despite its delicate looks and finally Godetia ‘Crown with flowers in deep pinks and reds that will fill you with romance.
So don’t miss out on the easy-peasy early sowing bundle.