August is the time to get out those seed packets and hone your sowing, spacing and thinning out skills.
Since March we have been putting the building blocks in place for a successful food garden. The planning and preparation is done, and now it is time to start sowing. In warm frost-free areas seed can be sown directly into the soil, however, in many areas it is not advisable to sow in situ until after the last frost. Instead of losing valuable growing time, one can sow the first batch of seed into pots or seedling trays and keep them in a warm, sheltered place. By the time the temperatures have risen and the soil has warmed up, the seedlings will be ready to plant out.
Use a good quality potting soil or a mix of equal parts of sifted garden soil and fine compost. The soil texture should be fine so that there is good contact between the seed and the sowing medium. If it is too coarse then air pockets form around the seed and if they trap water then the seeds can rot. Only plant into moist soil and keep the soil moist, but not wet, during the time the seeds take to germinate.
Di-Di finds that sowing in pots can advance planting times by up to three weeks, and if the transplanting is carried out very carefully it can reduce transplant shock. Other advantages of sowing in pots are that there is less temptation to sow too much at one time, and it also allows one to manipulate succession planting.
Article by Alice Spenser-Higgs with information by MayFord Seeds and Di-Di Hoffman of Bouquet Garni Nursery.