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The time has finally come — it’s gardening season! Check out our three top tips to help you grow seedlings on your windowsill.
To grow plants indoors, we recommend buying soil specifically intended for seedlings from a gardening centre or DIY store. It needs to be sterile, water-retaining and not heavily fertilised. Garden soil won’t work as it clumps together and the warm, moist conditions on the windowsill will encourage the sprouts to grow faster than the plants. Re-use household packaging such as egg cartons, yoghurt pots or toilet roll tubes for containers. If you use yoghurt pots, don’t forget to poke holes in the bottoms to prevent waterlogging.
About 7 – 10 days after the seeds germinate – when leaves appear – it is time to separate them otherwise they will compete for space in the large pot. To transplant (or prick out), the seedlings, use a thin, sturdy stick such as a pen or chopstick to lift them out of the soil and transfer them to individual pots. Use your fingernail to shorten the fine roots by roughly a third in length as this helps to stimulate root growth.
Some plants — including cucumbers (and other gourds), beans, artichokes and Malabar spinach – are better left alone and should not be pricked out as they have more sensitive roots.
Don’t be an early bird
Sowing indoors too early in the season does not necessarily mean that you’ll end up with stronger plants at the start of the season. Take tomatoes, for instance: starting in January or February makes them grow long and thin because they get warmth but not enough sunlight. They have no advantage over the smaller but more stable seedlings which are sown about 6 – 8 weeks before planting.