SOW THE SEEDS FOR A SUCCESSFUL WINTER
PEAK seed-sowing season for bedding and vegetables is spring. However, there are many hardy plants with seeds that aren’t triggered into life until they’ve experienced a cold spell – and those are the ones that need sowing now.
This is the best time to put in tree, conifer, shrubs and hedging-plant seeds, as well as alpines, perennial wildflowers and native trees and shrubs.
Winter sowing is slightly different from spring. You should try to choose containers that aren’t going to crack when they’re left out in hard frosts, such as good quality terracotta pots.
Winter-sown seeds will spend a long time in the same pots so it’s vital to use free-draining compost. Make your own by mixing equal parts peat-free multipurpose compost and potting grit.
Sow one variety of seeds per pot since they come up at different rates. Sprinkle thinly and evenly over the surface and cover in a thin layer of coarse grit. Label each pot, water thoroughly and stand the lot outside.
Early next April move the pots into a cool greenhouse, conservatory or porch – the sudden shift in temperature may start germination in several varieties. If any pots don’t show signs of life, keep them and leave outside next winter – some seeds need two cold winters before coming up.