If you're staring off your vegetable plants in early Spring you'll need to give them some heat as temperatures will be too cold for the seeds to germinate. If you're growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel you can use a heat mat, a heat cable buried in a tray of sand or an enclosed heated propagator. A greenhouse heater can be handy for frost protection (green houses or tunnels are not immune to frost) but I find horticultural fleece perfectly good and a lot cheaper to buy and run! Videos Can't be bothered reading the text? You can watch it all on a video instead! Here's 2 recent videos which cover most of the text and will help you use your propagator to grow some perfect baby plants. All the products mentioned in the text are included in the text below with links through to the shop if you'd like to but any of them. Sowing the Seeds For most vegetables with the exception of root crops like carrots and parsnips sowing indoors in modular trays is the best way to start off healthy vegetable plants. Sowing indoors also allows you to get ahead of the season so you'll be ready with established 4-6 week old plants when the soil warms enough to plant out in late April or early may. We use 84 cell seedling trays for most crops as the module size is about perfect for the 4 weeks of growth normally needed before our seedlings are ready to plant out. For plants that need to spend longer in the pot use a 6 cell tray or a larger pot. The advantages of sowing in modular seed trays are:
- You use a fine seed compost perfect for germination instead of sowing in heavier garden soil.
- You control the early stages of the plant life.
- Emerging plants are protected from pests, particularly slugs.
- Weeding is easier as plants are over 4 weeks ahead of the weeds.
- You'll have a more uniform garden as you won't have empty spots where seeds didn't germinate.
- Your garden will be more productive as valuable space isn't taken up germinating seeds, this means more space for growing.