Growing your own plants from seed is very rewarding and considerably cheaper than buying seedlings or plants from the shop. The first thing you will need is a box or tray approximately 3 to 4 inches deep, 12 to 14 inches wide and 20 to 24 inches long.
Once you have your box it will need to be filled with a suitable seed raising mix. You have two options here, either buy a bag of seed raising mix from your local nursery or make your own. A good medium would be 80-85% washed river sand and 15-20% peat moss. Fill the box nearly to the top and then firm down using a small board.
Rows can now be made across the box. They should be one quarter to half inch deep and 2 inches apart. Pressing a piece of cane or dowel into the soil is a quick and easy way of creating rows.
The seed should be distributed 8 or 10 to the inch in the rows and then be covered. Move the box to a warm shaded place.
It is important to water regularly during germination, however the soil should be kept moist not wet. If the water starts running out the bottom of the box you’re over doing it and the soil will become waterlogged. If this happens the seeds could rot and fail to germinate.
If you can cover the box with a piece of glass this will hold the moisture, creating a microclimate, which will hasten germination. Once the seedlings germinate the lid can be removed and the seedlings can gradually be introduced to stronger light – next to a window would be ideal.
When the plants are one inch to an inch and a half high they should be thinned to one or two inches apart in the row, so as to give them space enough to make a strong stocky growth. If you wish to keep the plants that have been thinned, they must be planted two inches apart each way in boxes similar to the seed box.
When the weather becomes mild the box of plants should be set out of doors part of the time so that the plants will harden in preparation for transplanting to the garden later. It is recommended to give the seedlings a good watering just before transplanting so that a ball of earth will stick to the roots.
By raising seedlings in this controlled climate of germination they will be hardier and flourish. You’ll also have the added satisfaction of having done all the work yourself.