When should I start sowing seeds?
It’s hard to wait on sowing seeds
Just 54 days until spring? While most gardeners are still poring over their seed catalogues there are always the impatient ones (like me!) who want to get growing. Fortunately there are seeds that can be sown this time of year if it’s done under cover. But take heed, only sow the ones that benefit from being started early or you risk losing your plants and money.
Start your seeds too early and they’ll fail to thrive
Online, and mainly in Facebook gardening groups, I’ve seen quite a few growers posting photos of seedlings they’ve started early. It’s such an optimistic sight to behold! Young green seedlings stretching out of the compost seeking the sun. Sadly, unless these gardeners are set up with grow-lamps, it’s quite likely that their precious new plants will keep stretching and stretching. The young plants become ‘leggy’ and sick and most of the time end up in the compost heap.
The fact is, no matter where you are in the northern hemisphere, it’s still winter. The sun could be shining and some days might even feel a bit balmy but don’t be fooled – snow may not be that far from your future. In fact the USA is having one of the worst storms in recent years and the tail-end of that system is headed straight towards Britain. Time for planting crops out in the garden is still months away so unless your plants need a long time to mature or will crop in spring then forget sowing that seed packet.
Some crops do benefit from an early start
However, there are plants that will benefit from an early start. If you have a warm, south-facing window or heated greenhouse then you could start off warm weather veg like Tomatoes and Aubergine (Eggplant), right now. In Britain both will live out their lives under glass so by the time they’re ready for planting out then it’ll be warm enough inside the greenhouse. They’ll even crop earlier if sown now.
In contrast, cooler weather veg are best sown in the early part of the year as well. Use the time now to sow Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and Onion seeds and then plant them out in your garden after the last frost. I’ve put together a list of both flowers and vegetables you could be growing now in the chart below. Have a look, compare it against the information on the back of your seed packets, and then factor in your climate. Here on the Isle of Man we’re generally about three weeks behind gardeners in the southern part of Britain. If it takes three weeks longer for us to be able to sow and plant outside then it’s probably better to wait a bit on putting those seeds into compost.
Gardening tasks for January
- Organizing or attending a Seed Swap. I organise one every year for our gardening association and it’s a great way to find new varieties – check out these posts.
- Building hard landscaping into your garden. Raised beds, pathways, trellises
- Finding a supply of well-composted manure to dig into your beds next month
- Set pots filled with flowering bulbs near the house to help keep your spirits up
- Plan out your garden and create a seed sowing calendar. Sowing little and often when the time comes can mean the difference between a well stocked garden and gluts.
- Sow seeds for sprouting. Sprouting seeds are meant to be consumed while they’re still babies so you get your gardening and harvesting fix while it’s still winter.
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