Sowing seeds in a Seed Tray

veg courseEven a small seed tray can hold hundreds of seeds and seedlings so sow thinly. We will sow several types of lettuce and one row of 'Greyhound' cabbage (not labelled in photo) in a seed tray. The well firmed compost should be watered prior to sowing the seeds and then the seeds covered with a thin layer of dry compost.

Leave on the bench until the seeds have germinated

Alternatively we could have used a small pot (7-8mm) or sown in modules but the seed tray technique is useful.

'Pricking Out' Seedlings

"Pricking out" refers to transferring small seedlings from a seed tray (or pot) into individual modules, usually into a tray of individual modules. This is the technique we will use for our lettuce and cabbage seedlings. It is useful to have something to gently lever out the seedlings - the narrow end of a teaspoon is useful.

You will see that you can prick out quite small seedlings. Sometimes they come up with a small root ball of soil; you can gently shake this off if it prevents you putting the seedling deep into the compost. Hold the seedlings by their leaves rather than stems.

The seedlings can be pricked out into your module tray.  Don't prick out all of them! A dozen lettuces in total will eventually give two rows and three or four cabbages will take up a row.

The photo shows my modules after pricking out.  The modules are in groups of five so I have pricked out 10 x Little Gem, 5 x Oakleaf and 5 x Greyhound cabbage.  On the right there are 10 dimples, each with 4 beetroot seeds.  After taking the photo I covered the beetroot seeds and gave the tray a good watering. (On the left is my single spinach and slow to show broad beans. You might well be left with 10 empty cells - don't be tempted to fill them!)

Planting Seedlings

The plugs can be planted in the same way as radishes. I used a small dibber to start the planting holes, then watered to make the soil softer and then used a wider dibber to make holes deep enough so that the plug plants could be pushed down a little below soil level.  Better not to water in as the drier the surface, the less chance of slugs.  I then covered with fleece.

Don't be tempted to plant more plugs; keep the spares in case they are needed later.

Lettuces - Little Gem: 6 across a 1.2m bed and 30cm between rows; one row is plenty.

Lettuces - Oakleaf: 4 across a 1.2m bed and 30cm between rows; one row is plenty.

Cabbages: 3 across a 1.2m bed and 30cm from other row crops; one row is plenty.