Fluid Sowing

In dry soil or during the summer months germination from direct sowing can be erratic. One way to overcome this is to use a technique called fluid sowing. Pre germinate the seed on sheets of moist kitchen paper. When the roots are just showing, before the leaves open, mix the seeds with half strength, fungicide free wallpaper paste or a special sowing gel. Put the mix into a plastic bag and make a small hole by cutting off one corner. Twist the top of the bag to prevent the paste oozing out, and then squeeze out the mixture into the prepared seed drill as if you were icing a cake.

This is the technique for sowing seed and planting bulbs. Parsnip, carrot, onion and parsley seeds are sometimes germinated then mixed with wallpaper paste, placed in a bag and squeezed over the soil. This is called fluid sowing. Carrots must be sown thinly. Mix the seed with a little silver sand, which makes it easier to sow both thinly and evenly. Large seeds, such as peas, can be sown individually, at the correct spacing in a wide drill. Make sure the trench is the right depth. Shallots are spaced about six inches apart. Push the bulbs into the drill so that the tips are just protruding. Pull the soil back around them with a how or rake.

These methods show you how to sow seeds in drills. Most vegetables grown in rows, such as carrots, are down in drills. Use a garden line to make sure the drills and therefore the rows are straight. Open up a shallow drill with the corner of a how or rake. Refer to the seed packet for the recommended depth. Flood the drills with water before sowing if the weather is dry. Do it before sowing rather than after so that the seeds are not washed away or into clumps. Sprinkle the seeds evenly along the drill. Do this carefully now and you will save time later when you have to thin the seedlings. Cover the row of seeds with compost soil mix if your soil is stony. Use a rake to return the excavated soil to the drills. Rake in the direction of the row, not across it, otherwise you might spread the seeds and produce an uneven row.

Crops planted in a seedbed can be protected from bad weather with cloches. They are transferred to their final position in late spring.

Michael Ortiz

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