Allotment, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting

How to Sow Seeds and Plugs

Seeds and plugs, two elements of the gardener’s starter kit. Seeds allow you to craft and hone your produce and flowers from seed to sprout and beyond, while plugs skip the first part and go straight to a tiny, established plant.

They have similar needs, but this simple guide will take you through how to get the most from your chosen plant stage. For more specific advice on a given variety, try searching our blog for it on the bar to the right, or check out!

How to Sow Seeds

Once you’ve picked your seeds, read the back of the packet for the most specific instructions. Depending on if the weather is both warm and consistent, you can put the seeds straight into a veg patch or flower bed.

Warm weather – straight to garden

Flowers prefer a more scattered approach, just dibber a few holes in a bed and throw, then cover. For veg, you’ll need to lay them out in a line of ‘wells’ (holes poked with a finger) a few cm apart with a few seeds in each well, to then split out once they’ve sprouted.

Make sure to cover each well otherwise the birds will eat your valuable seeds before they’ve had a chance, and give each one a bit of water. You may also want to invest in a bit of staked netting, which birds and butterflies have yet to beat!

Cold weather – greenhouse first

If the weather’s still a bit cold or late frost is a possibility, you’re best off starting in a seed tray in a greenhouse or lean-to. Add a spoonful of compost to each cell, poke a well with your finger, then add 2-3 seeds per well.

Cover it over so the cell is level and full of compost, then give every cell a splash of water. Then you can place it on your greenhouse staging and await some lovely sprouts! Once they’ve sprouted, throw away the weakest- and thinnest-looking ones so there’s no competition for light and other resources.

It makes the remainders stronger, and leads to better plants!

How to Sow Plugs

Post- plug picking (vegetable or bedding), you need to get your plugs into the ground or a pot as soon as possible. Plugs are packed and shipped as quick as can be, as the precious roots can’t stay exposed for long. Depending on the packaging, you may need to tease your plugs apart in a bowl/bucket of water, but you only need to do this if their roots have become entwined and tangled.

Warm weather – straight to garden

Plugs go into the ground spaced further apart than seeds, as they’ll fill out the space much faster. As with seeds, put your veg in a line, but for flowers and shrubs you’ll need to think about the end result. Short plants should go at the front (from wherever the viewer will be looking at them), larger ones at the back. And use a dibber to make your life easier, digging a tiny well for every plug.

You can also use them to poke out your plugs (pictured above).

Give them all of the space they’ll need when they’re fully grown – you want to move plants as little as possible when they have soft roots. Which small plants and vegetables famously do.

Cold weather – greenhouse first

Depending on the size of your greenhouse, your plugs can go in pots, trough planters, non-celled (open) trays or even grow-bags. The plugs’ height is the key factor in what you can put them in, so make sure whatever you choose you have the depth/height (depending on if you’re looking across or down) for plugs to grow downwards as well as out.

Fill your container with compost, then make wells that match the size of your plugs, spaced apart depending on whether you’re going to be planting out (closer together) or this is their final home (further apart). Put your plugs in, then fill in the rest of the hole with compost so your plug is secure, but not compressed. As usual, water in well and then keep a regular eye on them.

In a few weeks, you can either plant them out or start adding plant food and other nutrients.

Hand/seed Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash