Monday, 24 August 2015

How To Sow Seeds in Summer

Time to seed your fall and winter veggies ... but how to keep those wee little seeds moist enough to germinate in all this heat? As the water simply beads on top of your super dry garden beds?

How to successfully seed in times of drought ... or in the dog days of summer..  

1. Soak your seeds for about 12 hours prior to planting. This one step will speed up the germination time by several days!

Some seeds are tougher than others, so can be left for longer, like these Walla Walla onions. Radishes and lettuce may need less time.

2. Find a spot where your new seeds can go.  Any small pockets of space will do.

This is the hardest part in summer time, as often your veggies are just hitting their stride and not ready to be harvested yet.

For mid-summer sowing (July), use the spots where you had your spinach, or lettuce, or radishes before they bolted in the heat. I had this large area full of volunteer potatoes that were ready to go, perfect for my fall and winter garden seeding.

For late summer sowing it is a bit easier to find space, as you are already harvesting many of your garden veggies. 

3. Level the bed, rake the soil smooth, remove any weeds, and smoosh any lumpy bits. I use my rake for all of this, even use the handle as a guide to make straight furrows.

 4. Make your seeding furrows. Spacing and depth of the rows will depend on what you are planting. These rows are for my radishes, so are 5 inches apart and less than an inch deep.

Soak the furrows well. Water them deeply two or three times. Wait several minutes between each watering to allow it to really percolate into the soil.

Tamp down to firm up the soil over the newly sown seeds.  

5. Plant your well soaked seeds in the wet furrows, cover with soil, and tamp down with the back of the rake.

6. Use a gentle spray to water in so as not to wash away the newly planted seeds ... be especially careful if your soil is powder dry and the water tends to bead on top of the soil.

Allow the water to soak into the soil between each watering. Repeat several times.  

If you do not have a water ban, you can use a sprinkler on a really low setting for an hour or two, which really allows the water to slowly soak into the soil.

Cover your newly sown seeds with burlap to help retain moisture.
Water through the burlap so that you do not wash away your seeds in the super dry soil.

7. Cover with burlap, mesh cloth, white or black landscape fabric to help retain moisture till germination occurs. A board or piece of plywood set up on bricks to provide shade, can also be used for the first few days, just long enough to keep the soil moist till the seeds germinate.  

8. Keep soil moist, watering daily, till you begin to see sprouts. Remove the burlap. Keep watering daily till the seedlings are well and truly up, then cut back on watering to every third or fourth day. 

The weeping hoses that you see in the picture were left from the spring and early summer growing. They do not help soak the soil during the seeding and germination process as the water soaks deep into the soil so does not water the surface sown seeds. 

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