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seed sowing

Success With Seeds

Last month we looked at the advantages of seeds over seedlings. Now we give you a few tips to ensure seed sowing success…

Get the soil ready

  • Irrigate the area with a fine sprayer the day before you are planning to sow so that it is moist but not drenched, or you will battle.
  • Dig over the patch you want to sow in after adding ample compost and spreading about 60g/m2 of general fertiliser.
  • Remove all stones and old plant roots and rake the soil as smooth and as fine as possible.

Get seed sowing

  • If the seeds are fine, mix them with river sand, palm peat or coarse maize meal, which will act as a spreader preventing the seeds from falling in one spot.
  • If you want to, you can mix in water retention granules, which are available from nurseries. If you moisten your spreader, retention granules and seed slightly, you can simply flick it over the soil. The water retention granules will form a protective layer around the seeds, which will prevent them from drying out too quickly. (These products can also be worked into the soil at preparation time – simply check out that you have the right product for the job.)
  • Coarser seeds can be dispersed evenly or should be sown in shallow farrows made with a stick or the corner of your rake. Use the back of the rake to gently close the farrows after sowing.
  • Lightly tamp down the soil when you are done and irrigate again with a fine sprayer until well moistened.
A few of the flowering annuals that can be sown now are forgetme-nots, Virginia stocks, African daisies, bokbaaivygies, Shirley poppies, candytuft, California poppies, cornflowers, love-ina-mist, nemesias, linarias and godetias (satin flowers).

Seed sowing aftercare

  • Keep the soil moist until germination – on hot days you might have to irrigate twice.
  • If your seedlings come up too close together you will have to thin them out when they are big enough to handle.
  • Use snail and cutworm bait to protect your plants.

In a nutshell

There are only four reasons for seed to not germinate successfully:

  1. The seeds were sown to deep.
  2. The soil dried out during germination.
  3. Pets, birds, soil insects or rain might have disturbed the seeds.
  4. The seeds were too old.