15 September 2016

Sprout your own seeds

it’s easier than you think.

The arrival of spring in Auckland reveals a few calmer days where the temperature is warmer. Then before we know it a complete turnaround, back to very cold and often stormy winter conditions. Spring is good time to have a go at getting your own garden seedlings underway.

For generations seeds have been collected from favourite garden plants, labelled and stored in paper bags or an old envelope ready for sowing the following year. My grandparents stood with such conviction in their knowledge of the best, the tastiest and the most beautiful of plants in their gardens and would save seeds not only for themselves but for others to enjoy.

These days looking to grow different vegetables or flowers from those in the household ‘seed bank’, we are spoilt for choice. Whether you want heritage, organic, loose, embedded in tapes or mats, there are plenty to choose from. My favourite source is the Koanga Institute, heritage seeds with great results in the garden. Their philosophy on food production is inspiring also.

Seed packets often feature a colourful photograph of the perfect flower or vegetable, a promise of what is to come. Others feature a simple illustration or just a label. Some of the earlier seed packets available from Yates were enticing with beautiful artwork depicting the various flowers and vegetables, as featured in the recent book ‘Real Modern’ by Bronwyn Labrum. Though with a little homework on what you would like to grow, then you only need to choose where to purchase your seeds from.

If you are keen to try something completely different, Luffa aegyptiaca – plant sponge is fun and produces a good crop of sponges. When dried, these can be used for a variety of cleaning jobs.

Use a good seed raising mix and a suitable container. Good drainage works best so your seeds aren’t waterlogged. Jiffy or peat pots and eggs shells can be used to sprout seeds with the benefit of being able to plant the entire pot or shell into the garden when ready. Mist with water to keep moist – then wait until the seeds sprout. When the seedlings have a set of leaves, put them outside during the day to harden off. Then before long they will be ready to plant out into a prepared garden bed or garden planter.

Water, feed and enjoy the results.