With the start of a new year and having time to consider and plan for the year ahead over the festive period, you, like me, might be itching to get started by sowing some seeds. Starting early indoors (January/February), either in a cold frame, cool greenhouse or on a windowsill is great for getting ahead with tender plants and plants that require a long growing season, such as chillies and aubergines.
As we move into February, sweet peas, perennials and tender crops can be sown. Planning and sowing in January and February will free up your time in March for additional gardening jobs and commencing with sowing of half-hardy annuals, such as nasturtium, marigold and cosmos.
With warmer weather, longer daylight hours and April just around the corner (believe me, it will go quick), when most plants can be sown outdoors, you’ll find that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Managing your time is key for the first quarter of the new year, so why not make yourself a seed sowing plan and refer to it regularly.
Of course, when it comes to sowing you want to give your seeds the best chance at strong germination, good seedling growth, essential root-ball development and overall plant health. Dalefoot’s Wool Compost for Seeds is a gorgeous, crumbly mix, light to the touch, never cloggy or soggy (unless you water too much), and a perfect organic medium to grow seed in. The feed within the compost will keep your seedlings going without having to top it up in its early stages, and the natural and sustainable mix requires less watering, as the wool and bracken provide natural water retention, resulting in less watering.
I love this time of the year and if you’ve never sown a seed, I urge you to pop down to your local garden centre or look online and start. Just remember, that a packet of seeds can contain 5 or 1,000 seeds, so think about the space you want to fill, what you want to taste and smell and sow only what you need. Each seed will germinate and grow into a fully-grown plant, so that can be 5 plants or 1,000 plants!
Mark Lane is the UK’s first multi-award-winning garden designer, published gardening writer and BBC gardening presenter (BBC Morning Live, BBC Gardeners’ World and RHS Flower Shows). Mark has also appeared on BBC Celebrity Mastermind, BBC Pointless Celebrities and BBC Celebrity Weakest Link. He studied Art History at UCL, went into publishing and had a meteoric rise, becoming the Publishing Director for the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Managing Editor for the leading Arts publisher Thames & Hudson. Following a car crash in 2000, Mark retrained as a garden designer. Mark is also the gardening expert on QVC with his own shows ‘Garden Design with Mark Lane’, ‘Love Gardening with Mark Lane’, ‘Garden Solutions with Mark Lane’ and ‘My Garden Escape with Mark Lane’. Mark has a regular column in the Daily Express, Garden News and Grow Your Own and is the gardening expert for Stannah. Mark is to become one of the first Ambassadors for the National Trust, and is also an Ambassador for the charities Groundwork, Thrive, Greenfingers, Leonard Cheshire and Melanoma Fund, Patron of Core Landscapes, Equity Ambassador for BALI and a Trustee/Co-chair for Gardening with Disabilities Trust. Mark appears on many radio stations and is a regular speaker for the horticultural industry and is a disability advocate.