Musing at the water cooler

It’s always good to discover new grow your own enthusiasts eager to try their hands at seed sowing and vegetable growing. And, just like little seedlings, these newbies need nurturing.

It’s not always clear how, when, where or even why some crops should be grown from seed while others are propagated using different methods, so here’s some ideas and advice for all budding gardeners who may be gathering around the virtual water cooler.

Salad leaves

Throughout the summer you should be eating loads of these and to eat lots you have to grow lots. I find growing mixed salad leaves preferable to growing lettuces because they provide you with a good variety of colours, textures and taste. Often referred to as cut and come again, salad leaves regrow after cutting and will keep you in plentiful supply for around 6 weeks. Once a lettuce has been harvested that’s it, it won’t grow back.

To grow mixed salad leaves fill a 1 metre length of guttering with multi purpose compost (gaffer tape on both ends stops the compost falling out). Sprinkle the seeds liberally across the surface of the soil and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite. Label and water. Place on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse and the seedlings will emerge in a few days. When the plants are established and around 8-10cms high remove the tape from one end and slide the whole lot into a ready made grove in your veg patch. Water well and do protect them from slugs who relish these scrumptious leaves. For fresh supplies throughout the season sow seeds every 4 weeks.

Courgettes Squashes Beans

Simple. Fill a 9cm pot with multi purpose compost and push the large seed into the middle about 3cms deep cover it up, label and water. Place on a sunny windowsill and, when all danger of frost has passed, plant outdoors.


Herbs to grow from seed are parsley, coriander, chives, basil, chervil, summer savory generally anything that isn’t ‘woody’. Fill a plug tray with multi purpose compost and put a sprinkling of your chosen seeds in each one. Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite and stand the tray in water. Tiny seedlings are vunerable to a fungus that sometimes forms on the surface of the pot. Watering from below reduces the risk as does an application of cheshunt compound.  Place on a sunny windowsill or in a propagator and wait patiently for germination, some take a couple of days, others a little longer.  Continue watering from below when the seedlings are small to prevent them being bowled over. When the plants have grown and the roots are established pot them on into larger pots or plant out in the herb garden.




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