Growing from seeds
The seeds of many annuals, including some wildflowers, can be successfully sown by scattering them over the soil surface and then raking them in. The main drawback to doing this is that the resulting seedlings can be difficult to distinguish particularly where, as in the case of ornamental grasses, they resemble common weeds.
Large seeds, such as beans, can be sown individually by simply pushing them into loose soil with the fingers. Most others, however, are best sown in shallow furrows, commonly known as ‘drills’. These drills are taken out with a string line as a guide and using a suitable implement such as the corner or a draw hoe or the end of a cane. Drills in a series of concentric rings or ovals are often used for annuals but straight drills are normal for vegetables and in seedbeds. Peas are usually sown in flat-bottomed drills about the width of a spade.
If the soil is not fully moist, water the bottom of the drill before sowing and then sow thinly. As an alternative to sowing evenly along the row, two or more seeds may be sown at each position or ‘station’ where a plant is required. This is particularly useful for vegetables with larger seeds such as sweetcorn, beans and parsnips. After sowing cover lightly with soil; as with sowings made under glass, a covering of around three times the diameter of the seed is about right.