How to Warm up the Soil to Sow Outdoors in your Organic Garden

Warming up the soil

Having selected the seeds to be sown outdoors, the major mistakes to be avoided are sowing too early, too deep and too thickly. Trying to steal a march on nature may only result in the waste of precious seed as it rots in the cold damp ground. Nature usually catches up with herself. Sowings a month later may even overtake the plants that did germinate from an earlier sowing. Use your observation, look at what else is germinating, feel the soil with your hand, and note what happened in previous years.

You could speed things up a bit by prewarming the soil, with plastic laid on the beds. Clear plastic is better than black because it will bring up the first flush of weeds which can then be hoed off before sowing. Keeping down weed competition is very important and sowing in rows—either along or across the beds—will enable you to hoe as soon as the seedlings emerge. Protection from pests is also important.

Careful sowing

Some seeds are very fine and are easily lost in rough soil. Getting your soil down to a fine tilth will help prevent sowing too deep which often prevents emergence altogether. While a large seed like a broad bean can be two inches deep, others like the tiny seeds of carrots need only a bare centimetre of soil over them. Follow the instructions on the packets and, if necessary, prepare a special seed bed (for brassica seeds, for example) from which the seedlings can be transplanted.

Sowing thickly not only uses up expensive seed but necessitates a lot more thinning. This is time-consuming and fiddly and in the case of carrots could actually attract pests—so sow as thinly as possible. Or try station-sowing: use a small pinch of seed sowed at the final spacings, which can be thinned down to just one, or left to grow as a clump of smaller vegetables.

If conditions are dry when you are sowing, water the drill beforehand. Watering it afterwards risks washing away the seeds. Then, unless it is very dry, avoid watering until emergence. Finally don’t forget to mark the drill and record it” in your diary!

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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