5-minute gardener: weekend ready
If you haven’t bought seeds yet, do so without delay. The choice is huge.
This year Kings Seeds has more than 70 varieties and Egmont Seeds more than 30.
Sow seeds in trays in either a commercially prepared seed-raising mix, or make your own with a 50-50 blend of compost and garden soil seived together. Threequarter fill the trays with the mixture then soak in about 5cm of cold water in the sink. Firm down soil with your palm and scatter the seeds, about 2cm apart is ideal. Then sprinkle seed-raising mix on top.
Putting the trays in plastic bags creates a mini glasshouse and increases humidity. Remove from the bag once the first shoots push through the soil and keep the trays in a sunny sheltered spot, such as a window sill, sunroom, verandah, cold frame or glasshouse. Seedlings should never dry out. Water with a spray bottle or mister until the seedlings are ready to transplant, at about 3cm-4cm high. Meanwhile, prepare the beds. Choose a sunny sheltered spot with free-draining soil and dig in plenty of organic matter. Do not plant seedlings outside until early to mid November unless you live in a warm micro-climate.
Make early sowings of carrots. Early varieties are usually smaller and include ‘Early Crop’, ‘Early Chantenay’ and ‘Little Finger’.
Early crops are more likely to evade the dreaded carrot fly, whose larvae feed on the roots, causing them to rot.
Keep an eye out for blackfly on broadbeans. Squish them with fingers or nip off the tips of the plants as soon as they are spotted.
Care taken growing tomatoes will result in a delicious bounty.