Prepare Your Seedbed
Keen gardeners will be chomping at the bit to get outside now ready to start the new gardening year and if your garden is at last beginning to be a bit workable you can start to prepare a seedbed in anticipation of sowing your vegetables next month.
A seedbed is just a small area of the veg plot used to raise young plants ready for transplanting once they are large enough to be safely handled. Seedlings take up less space while small so they don’t take up room which could be used for other crops.
Brassicas are perfect plants to be started in a seedbed where they can be thinned out and grown on ready for transplanting. Not all crops are suitable for transplanting and these varieties should always be sown in situ - where they will mature. This includes most root crops such as carrots, parsnips, and beetroot.
Fork over the soil removing any weeds and incorporate plenty of compost and organic matter to improve structure and drainage, if you make your own compost that is perfect, if not fork in a good multi-purpose fertiliser or Organic Extra - a super-concentrated farmyard manure which will release nutrients to the soil over a long period to boost the healthy growth and produce bumper crops, a couple of weeks before you begin sowing. Rake over to ensure a fine and even surface for sowing removing any stones or un-composted material that hasn’t yet broken down.
If the ground is still cold after winter cover the soil with fleece or cloches for a couple of weeks until conditions are better in your area. As well as warming the soil it will also help to dry out the soil surface a bit making it a bit easier to sow the seed.
The advantage of using cloches is that they can be left in place after sowing and will protect the developing plants – a fine insect net cloche is perfect for this as it prevents pests gaining access to the seedlings while allowing air to circulate and water to penetrate.
When weather conditions are favourable in your area sow your seeds but be prepared to protect the beds if cold weather is forecast. Once germinated thin out to the required spacing allowing the strongest seedlings to develop into healthy young plants ready to transplant into their final growing position.