Matt and Lentil Purbrick of Grown & Gathered are with us again today, with another garden tutorial from their first book, Grown & Gathered!
From their farm in Tabilk, Matt and Lentil grow vegetables and flowers in abundance, which they sell and trade in Melbourne. In today’s excerpt, their share with us their simple but essential tips for growing seedlings from scratch.
Sun, soil, water. The rule of three. For plants to grow, each of these elements needs to be right. The three interact and support each other, and you simply can’t have a thriving garden without perfecting all three. This rule is the key to your success, whether it be growing vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, pasture or grains, and no matter where you are located in the world.
We believe that if you give your plants an optimal environment, they will grow faster, produce more and produce for longer. We are constantly giving our plants so much love that they never get stressed. If your plants are never stressed, they never need to spend time recovering, and therefore get to direct all of their energy into giving you higher yields. Everybody wins.
Master sun, soil and water and you’re most of the way there!
Step-by-step guide to growing seedlings
Prepare your trays
Prepare your trays or pots by filling them with your chosen growing medium, and then pre-soak the soil with water so that it’s already moist for your seeds. Don’t miss this step – pre-soaking is key.
Prepare your seeds
Place your seeds to a depth equivalent to the length of the seed, and brush some earth back over them. For big seeds, like pumpkin, that’s 1 cm. For tiny seeds, like oregano, you basically sprinkle them on top and brush your hand over them to incorporate with the soil. Try and space seeds out in a 3 cm grid. This is completely impossible for tiny seeds, so, in their case, just do your best not to sow too many seeds in each tray – remember that each seed is a potential plant. Do not press down on the seeds, as this will only compress the soil and make it more difficult for the young roots to grow.
The germination process
When all your seeds are in place, give the tray another really deep but gentle soak. Germination is the waking up of the dormant seed, and for that to happen it requires the seed to get really wet just once, then to remain just moist – like the rest of your garden – throughout the growing process.
Place your seedling trays in a warm, protected spot in the sun (on a windowsill or in a greenhouse, for example) and keep them moist. This is where most people go wrong. They just wet their trays once, and then leave them in a hot place and cross their fingers. Inevitably, the trays dry out before the seedlings have a chance to get going. Tend to your seedling trays every day, giving them a sprinkle of water and always keeping them just moist – never wet.
Once the little green sprouts are up, continue to keep moist, but there is less pressure now because they will have a little taproot down deeper into the moist soil at the bottom of the tray.
After four to six weeks, your seedlings will be 15–20 cm tall and ready to plant out.