How to Create a Seed Bed
Before we begin, you might be wondering what a seed bed is. Basically, it’s a small area of land that’s used for sowing slow growing vegetables such as cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli etc., directly into the soil, before moving them on to their final growing positions.
Why bother? Quicker cropping vegetables such as lettuce or radish can be planted in the empty vegetable beds where the slower growing plants that you’ve started off in the seed bed will follow. Seed beds are also useful if you don’t have a polytunnel or glasshouse, saving you filling up your windowsills. Alternatively you may have something growing in the vegetable bed that you’re ultimately planning to plant your cabbages into.
A seed bed doesn’t need to be very big – about a metre square is sufficient. A seed bed does need to be in an open, sunny position to give the seedlings the best start in life.
The soil should be well prepared – light, well-drained, free of weeds and stones. Check the pH (cheap kits are available in garden centres). pH neutral is best, somewhere between 6.5 and 7. Seed beds do not need to be too fertile either as seeds contain everything they need to germinate.
To get a fine tilth suitable for sowing seeds, rake the soil gently backwards and forth when it’s neither too wet nor too dry. Tiny seeds will need a finer tilth than larger ones.
Cats seem to love rolling in seedbeds so consider enclosing the area with wire netting until the seedlings are larger, or string black cotton over the bed to deter birds.
Sow the seeds in drills (see picture above) and as they start to grow either move them to a ‘holding bed’ (like a seedbed only larger) or transplant them (move) to their final positions.
Before moving them, water both the seedbed and the soil into which the plants will move to. “You’d never move house before having a cup of tea.”
Note: Avoid planting Calabrese in a seed bed as it does not like to be transplanted.
Do you use seed beds? Have you found them useful?