Seed planting techniques for self sufficiency

ONLY seed supplied by a firm (with a good reputation is worth sowing; the rest may be rubbish. But even the world’s most expensive seed cannot produce good results unless the soil is prepared for its reception, and the seed is then sown properly.

For some plants it is desirable to provide a special seed bed, the seedlings to be transplanted later to the rows where they will ultimately produce their crop. Cab- bage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, etc.., come into this category.

Other kinds may be sown in boxes or pots in frame or greenhouse, for later transference to open ground; such as onion, leek, celery, tomato, though these, with the exception of tomato, may also be sown in the open.

Others will be sown direct in the rows where the crops are to mature, as carrot, turnip, beet, parsnip, radish; because of the nature of %JL&X&-h their roots they will not bear the upheaval of transplanting. Beans, peas may be sown in their rows, or in boxes for earlier plants.

Remain where Sown.

For these the ground should be dug (and if necessary or desirable, manured) well in advance. If this can be done only a short time before sowing the ground may be spongy, and will then need firming, by treading or rolling.

The time to sow is governed to some extent by the state of the soil and by the weather; and sowing in a cold locality, or in a heavy or wet soil, cannot take place until later than is practicable in a warmer district or in a light, dry soil.

Preparing the Surface.

It is necessary that the top inch or so of soil shall be crumbly – that is, have a good tilth. This is an aid to germination (sprouting). Seed may remain dormant a considerable time if buried among clods or put into ground that has become pasty on top with heavy rain or made hard by too much trampling. 1 The hard or pasty surface should be loosened with a digging fork and left for a day (longer if necessary) and clods these should be broken with fork or hoe or rake. Wood ash forked or raked in will help to get the surface friable.

It is then possible to make drills – shallow trenches – for the reception of the seed. For all small seeds these may be V-shaped; for larger seeds – pea, bean – the drill should be as wide at the bottom as the top.

Making a Drill.

Sowing rows should be spaced according to the needs of the vegetable concerned.

Use a garden line as a straightedge, stretched tightly between two end sticks and almost touching the ground. To open up the drill use a draw hoe, with a chopping motion, the edge or one side of the blade being guided by the taut line. If the drill is to be flat-bottomed, the blade should be used parallel with the ground; if V-shaped, the blade should be at an angle so that only one corner is used.

A corner of the rake, held teeth upwards, will do the job – in the case of a V-shaped drill – as well as the hoe.

The operator walks backwards, facing the opening drill, and so that

Depth of Drill.

If only shallow drills are required, as for very small seed, these are made with least trouble by placing the handle of hoe or rake flat on the ground and parallel with the garden line and pressing it down with both feet.

Depth depends on the amount of soil-covering the seed requires. But in dealing with ground that dries out quickly in spring and summer it is advisable to make drills 2 in. or so deeper than is really necessary; the seeds are given their normal covering, the space that then remains above them forming a convenient channel for receiving water when this has to be given later on to the plants. wait for moister conditions before it starts to germinate. If drills really are dry, fill them with water overnight, or two or three hours before sowing – a much better plan than watering the ground immediately afterwards.

Water given after sowing and before seedlings show above ground may cause the surface to cake, with the result that they have difficulty in breaking through the stiff crust.

Several Drills at a Time.

Open out the number of drills required for the day’s sowing operations, so that when sowing starts it can be completed without interruption. Space them with care,

Sowing the Seed.

Make a little seed go a very long way. It results in a saving of money and labour, Final distances at which vegetables sown in the open are to stand are indicated in the alphabetical section. Seed should be sown with those distances in mind.

If a continuous stream of seed is sown along a drill most of the necessary. Avoid overmuch trampling of the ground; if operations are followed by heavy rain, puddles may form. If a plank is available for standing on, seedlings will have to be pulled up and thrown away. Larger seeds can be spaced out one by one. Small ones can be trickled out of the seed packet, one corner being torn off for that purpose, in groups of about three at intervals ; or a little can be held in the closed right hand and trickled out carefully between thumb and first finger. and if the soil is heavy, sand, grit, or wood ash mixed in freely will put things right. The seedlings will not need a rich root run to start with, so no manure should be added. In the home garden the best place for a seed bed is a border backed by fence or wall facing the south or so uh-west. For spring sowings especially seedlings get just the t nc xiragement they need in a warm border of this description. If the border is narrow the and weak growth, adds to the labour of thinning out and makes weeding difficult.

Sowing in Boxes. It is possible to steal a useful march on time by sowing in boxes seed of a number of vegetables that are commonly raised by outdoor sowings – onion, leek, beans, peas, lettuce, cabbage, etc..; these being reared in a sunny frame or greenhouse until the time arrives for planting out the seedlings in the open.

Wooden boxes about 2 in. deep are handiest. These can generally be obtained from seedsmen. There are cracks in the bottom to allow of free drainage. Boxes which do not allow water to escape easily should have ½ in. diameter holes bored in the bottom.

Soil for Seed Boxes.

The bottom of the box should first be covered with leaf-mould, if available; or with enough leaves to prevent the drainage holes becoming soil blocked.

The ideal mixture for filling the box consists of two parts good soil and one part of leaf-mould, both being rubbed through a ½ in. mesh riddle; enough fine sand or sharp grit being added to make the mixture feel gritty when passed through the fingers. Good garden soil, sifted, without leaf-mould, will do at a pinch; but it be porous with sand or grit.

Seeds get a flying start if the prepared soil is warmed before being filled into the box – by full exposure to sun in a frame; or by being spread out on the bench in a heated greenhouse; or being heaped over a brick heated in a kitchen oven. ‘ Filling Seed Boxes. Prepared soil should be neither wet nor dry when it goes into the box. It must be made firm by pressing down with the fingers along the two sides and two ends ; then press the surface all over with the clean bottom of a small flower pot, or a broad piece of flat, smooth wood.

The finned surface should be in. from the top of the box. Rub the surface lightly with the fingertips, to crumble it; sowing can then proceed.

For quick germination sow the seed as thinly as patience will 9- –

Sowing the Seed.

Make a little seed go a very long way. It results in a saving of money and labour. Final distances at which vegetables sown in the open are to stand are indicated in the alphabetical section. Seed should be sown with those distances in mind.

If a continuous stream of seed is sown along a drill most of the necessary. Avoid overmuch trampling of the ground; if operations are followed by heavy rain, puddles may form. If a plank is available for standing on, use it. seedlings will have to be pulled up and thrown away. Larger seeds can be spaced out one by one. Small ones can be trickled out of the seed packet, one corner being torn off for that purpose, in groups of about three at intervals ; or a little can be held in the closed right hand and trickled out carefully between thumb and first finger. be adopted specially where soil is naturally heavy and disinclined to crumble.

Finish off by passing the rake down between the covered-in rows.

Protection for Seed.

Old dry soot (not straight from the chimney – it is likely to burn tender seedlings) sprinkled along the rows will keep birds, slugs, mice and cats at a distance. Even the most persistent cat will acknowledge defeat if confronted by pepper-dusted rows.

To discourage birds from indulging in dust baths above the seed, place twigs of evergreen (laurel, etc..) flat along the rows; this also provides shade in hot sunny weather and cuts out any need for watering.

Position for Seed Bed.

Seedlings to be transplanted should be raised in a special bed, or in boxes or pots. Later shifting to permanent quarters will not upset them. In the case of cabbage, broccoli and other greens the shift actually benefits them; the disturbance induces the young plants to form a network of roots instead of sending down one long tap-root.

It should be away from shade and overhanging tree branches. The site should be dug 1 ft. deep, and if the soil is heavy, sand, grit, or wood ash mixed in freely will put things right. The seedlings will not need a rich root run to start with, so no manure should be added.

In the home garden the best place for a seed bed is a border backed by fence or wall facing the south or so irh-west. For spring sowings especially seedlings get just the encouragement they need in a warm border of this descrip- path; otherwise, at right angles.

Seed Bed Drills.

As the seedlings are due for early transplanting the drills need not be more than 4 in. apart, and quite shallow, made as already explained. To prevent light soil drying, during a rainless spell, cover the sown rows with wet sacking or something similar until the seedlings show above surface.

There may be a temptation to broadcast seed over the bed instead of sowing in neat drills. But this wastes seed, causes overcrowding

Seed can be made to go three times as far with careful sowing.

Label as You Go. As a row is sown and before the drill is filled in it should be labelled. The average memory is short and faulty. Littie wood slithers as used for labelling pot plants are too fiddling for outdoors; also they are too easily displaced. A common practice is to push a stick into the end of a row and fit the emptied seed packet into a notch in the suck’s top. It answers – unless wind blows the packet away or rain pulps it.

Serviceable labels can be sliced from box-wood, or from old stakes. Or a stake can have one side cut flat for pencilling on. A handy length is 1 ft., one end pointed for pushing into the ground. The name of the vegetable and its variety should be written in block letters, as close as may be to the top end. And the names will remain legible longer if the pencil is pressed hard into die wood.

Covering the Seed.

Sown seed can be covered, to the required depth, by shuffling the feet along both sides of the drill. If this is to be completely filled in, the quickest way is to work the displaced soil into the drill with the back of the rake, and pat it down gently afterwards, if fairly dry, to ensure firmness over the seeds.

A fall of rain may have made the soil so wet since the drills were opened that it cannot be returned above the seed except in lumpy condition; which is not favourable to speedy growth. It is as well to be prepared for this by placing beforehand a quantity of dry soil under cover specially for filling drills. Old potting soil serves and weak growth, adds to the labour of thinning out and makes weeding difficult.

Sowing in Boxes.

It is possible to steal a useful march on time by sowing in boxes seed of a number of vegetables that are commonly raised by outdoor sowings – onion, leek, beans, peas, lettuce, cabbage, etc..; these being reared in a sunny frame or greenhouse until the time arrives for planting out the seedlings in the open.

Wooden boxes about 2 in. deep are handiest. These can generally be obtained from seedsmen. There are cracks in the bottom to allow of free drainage. Boxes which do not allow water to escape easily should have in. diameter holes bored in the bottom.

Soil for Seed Boxes.

The bottom of the box should first be covered with leaf-mould, if available; or with enough leaves to prevent the drainage holes becoming soil blocked.

The ideal mixture for filling the box consists of two parts good soil and one part of leaf-mould, both being rubbed through a ½ in. mesh riddle; enough fine sand or sharp grit being added to make the mixture feel gritty when passed through the fingers. Good garden soil, sifted, pinch; but it be porous with sand or grit.

Seeds get a flying start if the prepared soil is warmed before being filled into the box – by full exposure to sun in a frame; or by being spread out on the bench in a heated greenhouse; or being heaped over a brick heated in a kitchen oven. ‘ Filling Seed Boxes. Prepared soil should be neither wet nor dry when it goes into the box. It must be made firm by pressing down with the fingers along the two sides and two ends ; then press the surface all over with the clean bottom of a small flower pot, or a broad piece of flat, smooth wood.

The finned surface should be in. from the top of the box. Rub the surface lightly with the fingertips, to crumble it; sowing can then proceed.

For quick germination sow the seed as thinly as patience will allow, cover with a sprinkling of sifted soil and press this down lightly with the flower pot bottom or piece of flat smooth wood. With quite small seeds deeper soil delays germination. But seeds of pea and bean may be dropped, singly, into holes 1 in. deep, the holes then being filled up with soil.

Moisten the soil with water applied from a can fitted with a fine rose, carefully, to avoid disturbance of the shallowly covered seed. Then place the box in a sunny frame, kept closed until the seedlings appear, or in the greenhouse.

It helps germination and saves later watering if the boxes are covered with paper, to shade the soil surface; better still if a sheet of glass can be placed between paper and box. This covering is to be removed when the first seedlings show.

When large enough to handle, the seedlings will be planted out in the open ground in the case of peas or beans; celery and onion seedlings will be transferred to other boxes and grown on for a time in frame or greenhouse for later planting out in their prepared places. Each box should be labelled as soon as the seed is sown.

Sowing in Pots.

Flower pots of about 3 in. diameter are quite large enough, scrubbed, inside and out, and thoroughly dried. Clean crocks placed in the bottom will keep the drainage hole clear. Fill up with good, porous soil (mixture similar to that for seed boxes); press this down with the thumbs and level off the surface in. from the pot top.

Sow very thinly, cover with a soil sprinkling, gently firm this, and place the pots in frame or greenhouse. Glass and paper over each (until the seedlings appear) will retain moisture in the soil and assist germination.

How to Water Seed Pots.

When watering becomes really necessary, immerse the pot almost to its rim in a bucket of water with the chill taken off. Hold the pot there until water soaks up to the soil surface; withdraw it, allow surplus to drain out, and give no more water until the soil obviously needs it. Pots of seedlings should be watered in the same way; not with the watering can.

OF PLANTING OUT

THE man who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before does a good job of work. But the man who tries to crowd vegetable plants makes a bad mistake. The more space crops have, within reason, the more profitable the yield. This need for ample space begins with the seed, and the need becomes greater through subsequent stages of growth. The operations of thin- ning out, transplanting, pricking off, potting on and planting out will not wait. They must be tackled as they fall due, in manner according to each plant’s requirements. Seedlings in Open Rows.

Only mustard and cress crops are required to grow densely, to produce thick top growth that can be cut with scissors when required for making salads or sandwiches. The seed, to make gathering easier, is sown closely in beds (or boxes) and not rows.

Other crops are required to grow on as spaced-out individuals in separated rows, and the spacing out in each row needs to be done as soon as they are large enough to handle – not with a hoe but with the fingers.

Surplus seedlings should be pulled up complete with roots and without unnecessary disturbance of those that are to remain. It is most easily done when the soil is moist, and any loosened seedlings that are to stay should be made firm again in the ground with the fingers.

The thinnings (pulled out seedlings) need not all be thrown away. In dealing with carrot, beet, onion, these should not be thinned out to their final distances in one operation. Thin out to 3 in. or 4 in. apart at- first; later, the between ones can be pulled up and put to good use in the kitchen (Figs., 5i> 52).

Those which transplant readily – onion, pea, bean (not carrot, beet, parsnip, turnip) – can be used to fill in any blanks there may be, provided they are lifted with trowel or handfork complete with roots and at once watered into their new places if the soil is dry.

Transplanting from Seed Bed. According to their own requirements seedlings will be moved either to the nursery part of the bed, at about 4 in. apart (cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc..), there to grow on for final planting out; or direct to their final places, as lettuce.

Meanwhile they should be kept free of weeds, and some thinning out may be desirable. Before any thinning out or transplanting is done the soil should be watered if at all dry; not merely moistened on the surface, but soaked for 2 in or 3 in. down. That enables the small plants to come away with soil attached to the roots, and growth will not be checked.

If sun shines hotly they will move all the better if their disturbance is left until the cool of evening. If their planting-out places are dry, make the soil wet an hour or two in advance of die transplanting. Put them into the ground as deep as their lowest leaves 5 press the soil around each one and, unless rain appears to be imminent, sprinkle them overhead with a watering can fitted with a fine rose, or spray them with a syringe.

Pricking Off Into Boxes. Seedlings raised in boxes in frame or greenhouse must always be kept as close as possible to the glass, full light is essential. It is equally necessary to shift them from the seed box to other boxes in which they have the advantage of fresh soil and can stand farther apart; pea and bean seedlings, however, need no intermediate shift but go straight to their prepared rows.

Boxes to receive the seedlings should be not less than about 2 in. deep. If the drainage holes in the bottom are covered with leaf-mould the pricked-off seedlings will make good use of this rich material when their roots get down to it. Fill up firmly and evenly, to within ½ in. of the top, with the soil mixture previously advised for seed boxes; and note that seedlings take more kindly to soil that has had the chill taken off it.

How to Prick Off.

First the seedlings have to be removed from the seed box, a small cluster being lifted out with the aid of a wooden label thrust in beside them to the full depth of the box. The label is then used lever fashion; the hoisted-up little group is placed on the bench, the roots are carefully separated and the few seedlings laid out side by side.

One by one they are taken and placed in their respective holes in the soil of the prepared box. The holes are made, about 2 in. apart each way, in straight lines, with a stump of pencil or end of a wooden meat skewer; the first hole being made at the left end of the box and at the side farther from the operator. The miniature dibber is held in the right hand and the seedling manipulated with the left.

The seedling goes into the hole as deep as its lowest leaves; the hole is then closed with the dibber. The second seedling is taken up in the left hand, transferred to the hole then made for it 2 in. to the right of the first one, and so on until the box is filled. Seedlings in the second, fourth and sixth rows should be planted opposite the gaps in the first, third and fifth rows.

The Filled Boxes.

As each box is filled, smooth the surface around and between the seedlings with the finger-tips. Fill up gently with lukewarm water, and when the box has ceased to drip replace it in the frame or greenhouse and shade with paper from direct sunshine for two or three days; otherwise they may droop, which delays growth.

Thereafter watering is a matter of importance. Soil must never be so sodden that it approaches mud-diness; nor should it ever be dried out.

Planting from Boxes.

When all the soil in a box is occupied by roots is the ideal time to plant out. But the outdoor temperature may be too low, or the ground too wet. Then the young plants must be fed with weak liquid manure or artificial fertilizer to keep them going. Lack of sufficient food, and too dry soil, will cause-a halt in growth which’ may later lead – especially with celery – to the plants bolting: that is, flowering and forming seed and becoming useless as a crop.

Hardening off is a necessary preliminary before planting out frame-or greenhouse-raised seedlings. They need to be accustomed, by increased ventilation and gradually, to outdoor conditions.

The day previous to planting out, the soil in the box should be moistened right through if it is not damp enough; and the drills, or other planting stations, should be treated similarly.

Starting at one end of the box, get the plants out singly, with a trowel, scooping this beneath the roots; and plant each in a capacious, trowel-made hole, the lowest leaves to be flush with the soil, and the latter made firm above the roots. They will appreciate shade for a couple of days in sunny, hot weather; leafy twigs, or bits of evergreen stuck slantwise into the rows, will serve the purpose –

Transferring to Pots. Absolutely clean pots are necessary for potting on. If pots are dirty inside the plants will not turn out cleanly when it comes to planting out (or shifting to still larger pots). Cover the drainage hole of each pot with two or three pieces of crock, and firm-in a little soil mixture as already described.

Lift the seedlings, with soil attached to their roots, with a label, from the seed pot, separate carefully, and transfer one by one to the pardy filled pots. These are quite large enough for a first shift if they measure about 3 in. across die top.

Support die plant with the left hand (OA), place it in position in the pot, fill in with soil (OB) and press it down lightly with the thumb (oc). Then, with both hands (both thumbs on top of the soil), lift the pot and tap it down a couple of times on the bench, to settle soil well down among the roots. Press again, with both thumbs (OD), leaving the surface rather less than ½ in. below the top of the pot.

Fill up with lukewarm water, and return the potted seedlings to the frame or greenhouse.

Planting from Pots.

When planting out time arrives the young pot plants will probably have filled the pots with roots. They will have been hardened off – accustomed to hardier conditions by increased exposure to the open air – and will be sturdy and healthy through having passed the indoor period quite close to the glass.

To remove plant from pot, place the fingers of die left hand across the pot’s top, the stem of the plant passing between the second and third fingers (IA). Then invert plant and pot and, holding this with the right hand, tap the rim smartly on the edge of the wheelbarrow or on the spade handle. The ball of soil should then come out, unbroken (IB). If it is reluctant to do so, poke a piece of stick through the drainage hole and push against the piece of crock covering it.

The plant is now supported upside down between the fingers of the left hand. Remove the crocks from the bottom of the ball of soil (ic), then turn the plant right way up into the planting hole that has been made for it with the trowel (ID). Scoop soil back into the hole, around and over the ball, and firm it with the end of the trowel handle. In dry soil leave a depression for watering (IE).

If tomato plants are thus being dealt with, stake them at once. Water them in, collect the empty pots and return them to the shed, and the job of planting out is done.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus