Seed Sowing Outdoors
For outdoor sowing. the most important factor is the preparation of the ground.
The soil is best dug in autumn and left rough to allow the winter weather to act upon it, particularly heavy soil such as clay.
Frost action can help to break up any large clods of clay, thus creating better conditions for eventual root growth.
Adding copious amounts of organic matter such as farm yard manure or compost derived from your on site compost heap will also help the breaking down of heavy soils.
On a dry day in early spring, break up any large lumps on the plot with a fork, and remove any stones and weeds,then rake the soil to produce a fine tilth.
Some pundits say that the soil should be compacted at this time, but the writer believes; that if the winter weather has done its job,then the soil should already be sufficiently compacted by planting out time, rendering this task unnecessary!
Prior to sowing, rake the bed/s thoroughly,adding a general fertiliser at 60grams (2oz) per sq.metre as you progress.
Don't add the fertiliser at this stage if the surface is sticky, wait until the surface has dried to a drier tilth
Form drill to receive seeds.
It can be beneficial to use a duck board or batten to work on the beds, particularly if the soil is quite wet.
If the soil is somewhat dry, it can be a benefit to trickle water along the bottom of the drill prior to sowing.
This will ensure that the seeds have sufficient moisture to initiate germination.
Sow the seeds thinly along the length of the drill or in pinches placed at centres suited to the eventual spread of the plant being grown.
This method is known as 'station sowing' is useful for plants that require thinning out to given centres at a later stage, e.g.
Beetroot, Carrots, Lettuce, Parsnips, Turnips and Swedes
Once the seeds are sown lightly cover them with soil*
* Alternatively use potting compost if the soil is a bit stony or lumpy.
Once germinated, remove the excess seedlings, and leave the strongest seedling/s to mature.