How to grow from seed under cover without chemicals

people growing plants in tunnells
Growing in the tunnel at Jampa Ling community garden

Late May and everywhere the growth is phenomenal.  It  is important to get the  concept of what it means to                                                      grow organically.

Prevention –  it’s the only way.

A few tips

Soil medium, air temperature, humidity and moisture content and most important of all CULTURAL CONTROL

soil medium – seed growing requires a sterile medium. Why? well when your seeds begin to germinate it is really easy to spot them if there are no others about For instance,  don’t do what I did the other day. Like when I sowed  seeds directly into a soil medium that germinated loads of weeds that could grow in the dry conditions  that my beetroot seedlings struggled to withstand. Use a bag of seed compost.

where oh where has my beetroot gone                          you get the picture?

Air temperature and Soil temperature

Air temperature is important because certain plants don’t like it when it’s cold.  Basil and other Mediterranean plants hate the cold. You can use a crop cover like the one below, it’s available from fruit hill farm. This will also protect seedlings from leaf burn. This is caused by water reflecting on the leaves and getting a burn from the sun. We had quite a bit of that this year in the polytunnel.

Seedlings germinate at a variety of soil temperatures. It all depends what plant it is and it’s requirements. Check the back of the soil packet.

Humidity and moisture content – That is of the air and soil respectively.  When the air is full of moisture and it is cold outside this will regulate how much water you give young seedlings. Seeds need to be kept moist at all times until they germinate. Once they germinate many will benefit if they are watered from the bottom up. This ensures they don’t damp off (get a fungal disease caused by too much water or damp soil conditions). At least don’t over water them or under water them. Basically drown them in the early morning of a hot summers day. Wait until they get a bit on the dry side before watering again . Don’t leave it too late in hot weather and it’s better to delay watering in cold damp weather. Got it? The joys of living on a damp island………


cartoon of gardener
It’s time to weed
drink tea later

What is cultural control

This is the way we garden. How we stop disease, weeds, chaos making a permanent home in the garden. This includes all of the above and more. How to hoe. Hoe on dry days, allow weed seeds to wither and die on the spot. Pinch out or wash off the first signs of pests. Lift up pots and feel around for slugs daily. Remove them but allow and positively encourage other wildlife. Put a pond in your polytunnel. Grow flowers that encourage predators. Keep it clean. Wash your polytunnel  and pots every spring with water. Remove all dead and diseased plant material to the compost bin at first opportunity. Use your compost! Burn virus infected potatoes leaves or the like. If you are a smoker, wash your hands before handling any of the nightshade plants. (transfer of mosaic virus). Yes it is getting a bit complicated now so I will stop.

Grow on then with yourself…..drink some tea





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