Jekka's guide to growing vegetable seeds indoors and directly outdoors

Jekka's guide to growing vegetable seeds indoors and directly outdoors

Jekka’s vegetable seeds

At Jekka’s we believe herbs are “all useful plants” (Read Jekka’s blog on “understanding herbs” for more information). This includes vegetables and, in the past, vegetables were herbs. The word vegetable, meaning a plant grown for food, was not derived until the 17th century. Previously edible plants were all known as 'Pot Herbs,' referring to the cooking pot over the open fire not, as commonly believed, that they are grown in a pot; for example, Pot Marigold and Pot Marjoram, thereby indicating the historical use of these two plants. It was only after plants started to be cultivated for both flavour and size that the term vegetable was developed, creating a new category of plants.

Today, growing your own vegetables has become a very popular thing to do with waiting lists for allotment spots ever increasing.

Growing vegetables, like growing herbs in general, is an enjoyable activity for all ages. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a seed unfurl, nurturing it and then using it in a delicious meal. At Jekka’s we have extended our seed range to include some of our favourite vegetables. With a collection of over 100 different herb seeds, you will find something that really suits your taste buds.

This blog relates to growing vegetables but for advice on growing and maintaining herbs (which includes vegetables) check out Jekka's How to Grow Herbs videos and ‘Jekka’s Seasonal Tips’ blog series, which includes what to do in your herb garden in early spring, late spring, summer and autumn & winter. Together they form the basis of Jekka’s guide on how to grow herbs.

Growing vegetables from seeds

In general, the size of the seeds you are sowing determines the exact method you should use to sow the seeds. However, the principals are the same and Jekka’s sowing recipes for indoor and outdoor sowing are below.

The compost is also a very important part of growing successful vegetables and herbs from seed. To get started we have developed Jekka’s Seed Sowing Kit, that contains all you need to sow seeds and contains pots, Jekka’s seed sowing compost, perlite and labels.

Jekka’s sowing recipe for starting vegetable seeds indoors

Ingredients

  • For small seeds, about 10-15 seeds of your chosen vegetable and for large seeds, one seed per pot.
  • 1 pot (up to 13cm, (5in) diameter; check out Jekka's Kits).
  • Standard seed soil-less substrate (compost) either peat or peat substitute.
  • Perlite fine grade (wetted) or vermiculite.
  • Stick-in label.

Method

    • Fill the pot with the compost, firm and water in well. You water before adding the seed, so the water does not wash away the seed.
    • Use scissors to open the seed packet, avoid tearing as it is harder to seal the packet afterwards.
    • Sow the seeds:
      • For small seeds: Sow the seeds thinly on the top of the compost. We use a label bent length ways to dispense the seeds, which helps to avoid touching them. Once sown, cover with perlite.
      • For large seeds: Take a dibber, finger or a pencil to make a small hole in your compost. Place one seed into the hole and then cover over with compost and perlite.
    • Label with plant name and date.
    • Place the pot in a warm light place, 18 °C  (65°F) , not full sun. 
    • Keep watering to a minimum until germination has taken place, which takes 10-20 days.
    • Once the seedlings start germinating, make sure the container gets as much light as possible. If you live in a frost free environment, when air temperature does not go below  7°C (45°F),  place the container outside during the day, bringing in at night. 
    • Continue until the third leaf starts to appear, then the container can be left out all night. This is to harden them off in order to acclimatise the young plants to the outdoors before planting out.

      Jekka's recipe for planting your vegetables out

      Once your plants are established and the roots have nicely filled (but not overcrowded) the container it is ready to plant out.

        • Prior to planting out, prepare the soil by raking the soil level and removing any large clods of earth or stones, make sure the soil or compost is moist at planting time.
        • Gently loosen plants from their pots by gently squeezing the pot and pushing them up from the base or knock out plants from pots by giving a sharp tap to the bottom of the pot with the handle of your trowel.
        • Handle plants by the rootball to avoid damaging the stems and leaves, planting in a prepared hole so the top of the rootball is just below the soil surface.
        • Once planting is completed, water in using a watering can without a rose. Shallow-rooted plants dry out quickly so water regularly when they are growing strongly.

          Jekka’s sowing recipe for growing vegetable seeds directly outdoors

          Alternatively, which is what we do here at the herb farm in Bristol, is to sow directly into a prepared site in the garden, either sow in the spring when the danger of frosts has past or in early autumn when the soil is warm and there are fewer pests. 

          Ingredients:

          • Vegetable seeds
          • Prepared site in the garden
          • Stick in labels
          • String or stick to make drill and/or straight lines

          Method:

              • Prepare the soil on where you are going to sow the seeds by raking the soil level and removing any large clods of earth or stones, make sure the soil or compost is moist at planting time.
              • Using a string as a guide, create a drill (small depression in the soil) 2.5 cm ( 1 in) deep. However, the depth that the seeds should be sown at depends on the type of vegetable so it is best to read the seed pack. However, it is normally three times as deep as the diameter of the seed. Water the drill before sowing the seeds.
              • Sow the seeds:
                • For small seeds: Try to sow evenly and thinly along the drill.
                • For large seeds: Aim for spaces of about 4cm (1 to 2 inches) between each seed.
              • Label either end of the seed row. Germination takes 10-20 days.
              • Thin out the seeds when they are young and about 2cm (1 inch) tall. This is done by removing seedlings so they are roughly 10 cm apart to prevent overcrowding.
              • Start picking as soon as the leaves are large enough.

              Feeding vegetables

              To ensure healthy and strong herbs or vegetables Jekka advises for pot grown vegetables to start feeding the plants once established. During the growing season Jekka’s tip is to “Feed on Fridays”. We recommend an organic liquid seaweed and if your plants go yellow or look unhealthy to add magnesium with Horticulture Epsom Salts.

              Check out our vegetable seeds and Jekka’s Kits to get growing.