seedlingsAll of our sowings so far have been in modules or in rows in small seed trays (remember the lettuces and cabbages) before pricking out.  Now that the soil is much warmer we shall sow some seeds outside in a prepared seedbed.

Think of our trays of lettuces and cabbages.  We shall do the same with leeks, autumn brassicas and more lettuces, but this time the seed tray will be replaced by a prepared seed bed, 120cm x 30cm.

Traditionally the seedbed is prepared by making the surface few inches into a fine tilth by a combination of treading when the soil is dry to get rid of lumps, hoeing and raking.  I suggest you move any lumpy compost and then hoe to a depth of 3-5cm. It is useful to prepare the seedbed in advance so any new weed seedlings can be hoed off before sowing.

The seedbed need be no more than 30cm wide and the width of a 120cm bed. 

We shall sow in shallow drills, 15-20cm apart and 30cm long.  The drills will be parallel to the paths rather than at right angles as with all of the crops we have planted out.  When the time comes to sow, in early May, place your seeds closely spaced because we will be lifting them in a month or so to plant in their final positions.  It is just like sowing lettuces and cabbages closely spaced in the seed tray before pricking out.  Eventually we shall sow six different seeds so try to keep to the rows at 15-20cm apart.

While you are at it please prepare another seedbed, 90-120cm wide for sowing our parsnips and carrots in early May.  It can be adjacent to our 30cm seedbed or separate from it.  These two crops will NOT be transplanted and the rows will be across the seedbed, 120cm long and 30cm between each row, one row of parsnips and two rows of carrots. These two root vegetables do not like being transplanted as their roots tend to fork.

When sowing in 'drills' it is best to water the drill thoroughly before sowing to give the seeds damp soil to root into.  The drills should be kept moist until germination and beyond.