How to sow seeds outside
Whatever you're growing, whether hardy flowering annuals or a collection of hardy herbs or salads the method for direct sowing outside is simple, you won't need special tools; just a rake, a hand fork and some plant labels.
STEP BY STEP
1 First prepare the area by getting rid of weeds and removing any large stones then rake the soil so it is level and crumbly (often described as a ‘fine tilth').
2 Mark out an area in the soil for each different salad or type of flower. Plants can be grouped in lines, blocks or circles but sowing in overlapping drifts produces a very natural effect.
3 Mark out ‘drills' -shallow depressions within each area where you'll sow the seed. You can make them with the tip of the rake or a bamboo cane.
4 Sprinkle the seed very finely along the drills; sow the seed thinly because seedlings will need space to grow and mature.
5 When the seed is sown cover it over very lightly with soil; you can do this with your hands or a hand fork or by raking it gently along the drill, then and add a plant label- (It's easy to forget what you've sown if you miss out this step!)
6 Finally, water the length of the drill; use a watering can with a fine spray to avoid washing the seed out of the ground.
TIPS: -To mark out like the professionals fill a drinks bottle with sand and trickle the sand slowly from the bottle to mark out different areas for each seed variety.
-Unless you have a large space to fill you will only need a small amount of seed so don't be tempted to sow the whole packet into one small space!
-If cats or foxes are a problem in your area cover the soil after sowing with mesh or fleece; or put down a few rose prunings or holly stems to deter animals from disturbing the area while seeds are germinating.
After Care: Within a week or two depending on the weather germination will take place and you'll see leaves appearing.
Thin out any congested clumps if necessary, leaving space around each stem so seedlings don't have to compete with neighbours that are too close.
Keep well watered but don't saturate the soil.
TIP: Make sowings of hardy salads or herbs every few weeks and you'll get a steady supply of young leaves.