Click on this line to go back to the start of The Junior Seed Site                                              

Sowing seeds isn't hard. You just put them somewhere and let them get on with it. If they have the right conditions, they'll grow. Your job is to make sure they do have the things they need to germinate. Germinate just means start to grow. Seeds need air and water and warmth, and sometimes light. They don't need any fertiliser, because they come with enough food inside the seed to develop the root and shoot they need to be able to get their own food. If you sow your seeds outside in the garden, you don't need to do anything at all. They will just grow when everything is right for them. Usually, that means enough warmth, which is why spring is a good time to sow them. You can also sow them in the autumn or winter and wait for them to grow when the weather warms up.

Sowing your seeds where you want them to flower is called sowing them 'in situ'. That's just Latin for where they are. If you want to sow your seeds this way, dig the ground and rake it so it's soft enough for the new roots to grow into. Open the packet of seeds and sprinkle them over the ground. Rake a bit of earth over them, and give them a gentle water. Use a watering can, not a hose, so you don't wash them away. It's a good idea to label them, so you know what they are, and you know where to look for the seedlings (seedlings are the baby plants that grow from seeds). You can write the name on a label, or you can poke a stick through the packet and plant that where you sowed the seeds.

You can also sow your seeds in their own pots or seed trays, or anything else you have. A lot of the plastic pots and trays you get food in make good seed trays. Wash them, and make sure they have holes in the bottom so that water can drain away if it rains. Put some compost or soil in the pot, make it level, then water it a bit. Sow your seeds on the compost, and cover them with a bit more compost. If the seeds are big, poke your finger in the compost and drop one seed in each hole. If the seeds are tiny, you don't need to cover them at all. Only put a few seeds in each pot. If you sow too many too close together, they can all go mouldy and die. Keep the pots or trays of seeds outside in the fresh air. If they're seeds of hardy plants, they don't need to go in a greenhouse or indoors.

If you have large seeds, you can sometimes make them germinate a bit faster by helping them absorb water before you sow them. You graze the seed by rubbing it on a piece of sandpaper until you can see the pale seed inside the seed cover, and then put it in hot water until it swells up. Sometimes, the seed swells up if you just put it in water without grazing it first. When the seeds have swollen up, sow them in the ground or a pot.

There is another way of sowing seeds which is good if you want to see exactly how they're growing. When I was at school, we always grew runner beans in blotting paper in jars. If you haven't got blotting paper, you can use one or two sheets of paper towel instead, or even newspaper. Roll the paper up and stand it in the jar. Drop a few seeds between the paper and the outside of the jar. Put water in the jar until the paper is damp. Wait. In a few days, you should see a yellow root coming out of the side of the bean. Then the shoot will come up. You can put the baby plants in the ground or a pot to continue growing.

You can also put other seeds in paper towels to germinate. Get a single piece of paper towel. Fold it in half, then in half again. Open out the last fold. Sprinkle water on it to make it damp, not wet. Put the seeds on one side of the fold in the towel, then fold the other side over it. Label the seed. Put the folded paper towel inside a plastic bag, and roll the top of the bag over lightly. Don't squash it flat, as the seeds will need air to grow. This is a good way of starting seeds of indoor or tropical plants, which will need to be indoors all the time. It also gives you something to sow in the winter when it's too cold for seeds outside to be doing much.

However you sow your seeds, you should always label them. You can buy labels or make your own. Don't use sticky paper labels. If the seed pots are outside, rain will spoil them or the sun will fade them. Make sure the pen you use is waterproof. It's very annoying to look at your seeds and find the names on the labels have all washed away. A pencil is as good as a fancy pen.

Now that you've sown your seeds, you have to look after them. Check them every day to make sure that they have enough water. The seeds will die if they dry out, especially once they've started growing. Don't let the weeds take over.

There's a page on The Seed Site with photographs of how to sow seeds. Click on the RED LINKS below. Remember to click the 'Back' button at the top of your computer to get back to this page. The next section here has photos of what your new seedlings will look like when they begin to grow.

Click the red links to go to the page with photographs of seed sowing.
Click the green arrow to go to the Seedlings section.