How to Prepare Seedlings

How to Prepare Seedlings

Jean-Marie, Jardinier passionné & auteur, Auvergne

Guide written by:

Jean-Marie, Jardinier passionné & auteur, Auvergne

203 guides

Seedlings are grown under a greenhouse, in a pot or in open soil where they can be broadcast or precision seeded. Each seeding technique has its advantages and disadvantages and requires more or less material. Frost canvases, greenhouses and poly-tunnels, here are all our tips for getting your vegetable garden started and getting those home grown vegetables!

Important features

  • Seeding techniques
  • Greenhouse sowing
  • Sowing in pot
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What seeding technique is best for you?

Your preferred seeding method should be chosen according to the expected environment, your specific plants' needs and the available garden space you have to seed. This last circumstance, the space, will determine if your plants are seeded in open soil, a greenhouse or pots.

Seeding in open soil 

In the case of seeding in the open soil, the seeds are basically scattered in the exact spot where they will eventually grow and prosper. This method will be a requirement for vegetable plots with taproot vegetables (carrots for example) and pulse crops (peas, greenbeans, etc).The advantages of open soil seeding are:

  • A little less work, as repotting the plant is not required;
  • The plant does not go through the stress or repotting, it will therfore be stronger and grow faster.

The disadvantages of this method are:

  • Hoeing and weeding are required;
  • The garden space will be off-limits for a greater period of time than in a pot;
  • Far more required space than with the other methods;
  • It is impossible to seed while the risk of frost is still active.
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Broadcast or precision seeding?

Broadcast seeding  

As the name suggests, the seeds are scattered directly on the ground and spread out with the help of a rake. The area is then patted down with the back of said rake. This method is ideal for large seedings of annual or semi-annual flowers. Broadcast seeding is not suitable for vegetable plots.

Precision seeding

The seeds are placed in grooves, traced out by a hoe, a tool handle or rope. This method is suitable for the seeding of very fine seeds that require an exact spacing and depth. It is often used for vegetable plots, especially for carrots.Pocket seeding is another variation of precision seeding. The only difference is that several seeds are placed in the same hole. This gives the seedlings the extra bit of help they need to break through their skin and start growing faster. This method is often used for vegetables like green beens, cucumbers and gourds.

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Advantages and disadvantages of greenhouse seeding

Greenhouse seeing allows your to place more seeds in a smaller amount of space. The advantages of greenhouse seeding are:

  • Hoeing and weeding are not required;
  • The required space is reduced;
  • The yield and rate of growth is increased;
  • The harvest is longer and more abundant;
  • The plants are protected against any climatic disturbances.

The disadvantages of greenhouse seeding are:

  • Bacteria and disease can quickly spread if crops are not looked after;
  • The intial cost of the greenhouse can be a red flag;
  • Crops and watering must be closely monitored.

Seeding in pots

Unlike the open soil or greenhouse seeding, using pots is an esoterric operation.The pot is generally a plastic recipient to fill up with soil, in which the seed is planted. They are normally light, re-usable and keep the soil sufficiently humid. After seeding, the pot is covered by a thin clear film (glass, pastic) that will allow for the passage of light. The plant will stay in the pot until it's first growth spurt, when it will be removed and repotted in the ground.This method is ideal for more fragile plants who can't handle the stress of repotting.The advantages of seeding in pots are:

  • Several seeds can be placed in one pot;
  • Far fewer risks of the soil drying up as there is much more of it.

The only disadvantage is the large amount of space that they take up.

Accelerating growth?

Accelerating the growth cycle results in the early harvest of your crops in the spring. The growth is obtained through the use of heated bed, greenhouses and frost canvases.

Seeding on hot bed 

Using either broadcasting, precision seedings or pots, the seeds can be placed on a bed of compost composed of horse, goat or sheep manure, household waste (trimmings), and garden clippings. The combination of elements will fermet to generate heat, provoking the accelaration of growth.The compost's temperature can reach up to 70°C. A thermometer is crucial to success as the seedlings must have a temperature above 30° to avoid damping off. For several different types of floral and vegetal species, this method can allow for the seeding as early as January.

Greenhouses, frames and frost canvases

Poly-tunnelsframes and frost canvases are all designed to produce the green house effect in order to accelarate the plants' growth.Greenhouses protect the seedlings from the climatic elements during the winter (wind, rain, sleet, freezing). It is composed of a clear pastic sheet, spread across several arches. Growing and cultivating with a greenhouse requires contant attention to detail, vigilance and a minimum of expertise on the subject.The frost canvas has the same purpose as the greenhouse. Its is a protective film, composed of clear plastic, which is pierced at several locations to enable it to be fixed on top of seedlings. It's role is to protect the seedling against not only what the weather can bring, but also scavaging animals, diseases and the drying out of the soil.

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More Information

To complete your toolbox with the different tools required to work the soil and assure your seedling's success, follow the links below for gardening-related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

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Guide written by:

Jean-Marie, Jardinier passionné & auteur, Auvergne, 203 guides

Jean-Marie, Jardinier passionné & auteur, Auvergne

Haut comme trois pommes, je travaillais déjà au jardin familial. C'est peut-être de là qu'est né mon intérêt pour les plantes et le jardinage. Il était donc logique pour moi de suivre des études à la fois en biologie végétale et en agronomie.   Accédant à la demande de divers éditeurs, j'ai écrit en 25 ans de nombreux livres sur la thématique des plantes, des champignons (un sujet qui me tient à cœur), essentiellement des guides d'identification dans un premier temps, mais très vite aussi par la suite, sur le jardinage, renouant ainsi avec la première passion de mon enfance.   J'ai aussi collaboré régulièrement à plusieurs magazines spécialisés dans le domaine du jardinage ou plus généralement de la nature. Comme il n'y a pas de jardinier sans jardin, c'est dans un petit coin de l'Auvergne que je cultive le mien depuis 30 ans et où je mets en pratique les méthodes de culture que je vous conseille.

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