Tag Archives | Seeds

New Places for Growing Cress

HC & York 115

Egg and Cress sandwiches from your own home grown cress – marvelous and so easy.

I liked the Cress growing in this large wine glass at a local cafe so I thought I would grow some as I did as a child.

  • Fill your glass with an absorbent paper towel or blotting paper.
  • Dampen the paper and if necessary add more paper so the Cress will grow above the rim of the glass. This is a bit low to get at the sprouted cress.
  • Sow seeds evenly onto the damp paper.
  • To get good germination, make sure the freshly sown seed is kept in the dark.
  • These will take from ten to fourteen days to mature.
  • Mustard grows 3 days quicker than cress so if growing both sow Mustard later.
  • As there is no drainage do not flood with water keep just damp.
  • Harvest whilst still young and crisp.

Proper cress as in “Mustard and Cress” is Lepidium sativum and the Mustard is Brassica hirta. Beware many supermarkets sell oilseed rape seedlings (Brassica napus) as Cress with little or no flavour.

Beware if you grow on soil the seed husks drag up the soil as the plant grows and can create a gritty feel to your harvest. I like the scent of growing Cress but it may not be to everyones taste.

Other places or receptacles for growing your crop of Cress could include a smart plant pot, broken or chipped china but not grannies best antiques. I put a pot on top of the TV and the water leaked and broke it!

Cress seeds and other ‘sprouters’ from Thompson Morgan


Cabbages as Ornamentals and Flowers

London 083

These long stemmed cabbage flowers were in a large bunch at a local florist. Doubtless they were flown into England from many carbon miles away but you can easily grow your own  ornamental cabbage.

Growing Ornamental Cabbage

  • Large ornamental plants with frilled edges and an ornamental coloured heart. Colour vary with cream, pink and maroon being popular.
  • Sow seeds in spring for summer bedding or summer for late autumn planting to replace summer bedding. Sow seeds 1/16in deep in a good seed compost. Germination takes 14-21 days
  • When large enough to handle, transplant to 3in pots. Harden off spring sown plants and plant out 12-18in apart in the border. Pot up summer sown plants into 5in pots or containers and stand out of doors on a sheet of polythene to prevent root penetration into the soil.
  • Water regularly and give weak doses of a high Nitrogen fertiliser every 14 days. Plant out in late summer in beds, window boxes, containers, etc.
  • The leaf colour change occurs as the night temperature drops in late summer.
  • In late winter they produce a tall flower spike which makes an unusual floral decoration.

Cabbage Northern Lights F1 Seeds from Thompson Morgan
Nutritional Information

  • Eaten raw or cooked, cabbages are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
  • Try to use all healthy outer leaves as the darkest green leaves contain the most nutrients.
  • Ornamental cabbages are edible when young  although the flavour can be rather strong.
  • Vary the colour of your coleslaw with some chopped ornamental leaves.

St Valentine’s Flowers but Aubretia?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so keep an eye open for unusual sights on the 14th February. Rather than Roses or posies this Aubretia plant has decided to grow a heart shape all of its own.

Aubretia is a compact low growing plant that flourishes on walls and rockeries in full sun. Aubretia is easy to grow at the front of the border on any reasonably drained fertile soil and will spread naturally by seed.

Aubretia deltoides or rock cress is good for ground cover and is available in shades of blue and purple.

Grow from seed by sowing from late winter to early summer in a good free draining seed compost just covering the seed. Make sure the compost is moist and not wet and seal in a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 14-21 days at 18C (65F).

Aubretia is an evergreen perennial plant that is attractive to butterflies.

Plants by Thompson Morgan

Seeds by Thompson Morgan

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Beginners Seed Tips

Easy Annuals ‘Fairy Mixed‘    by Thompson Morgan

Beginners and novices can grow some colourful annuals quickly and cheaply. If the packet instructions says ‘can be sown direct outdoors then do so when the soil warms up.  If you want to get a quick start use a tray on a warm window ledge.

Starting  with Seeds

  • Always read the instructions on the packet of seeds.
  • Use a good quality seed or potting compost with a level surface.
  • Water with a fine spray and leave to drain.
  • Scatter seed evenly or place individual seeds in each cell and use a clear lid to maintain humidity.
  • Maintain an even temperature, generally 20º C will suit most seeds but again read the instructions.
  • Allow air to circulate once leaves start to appear.

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Gardeners Sowing the Seeds of Success

Rose Hip

Sowing the Seeds of Success – Rose Hips containing Seeds

All good gardeners know that seeds are on your side they want to grow and thrive. Apart for some weedy exceptions that I will save until the end of this article seeds can be coaxed into blooming excess with only a little know how.

Help From the Seeds.
Every seed tells a story and you can learn to read that story by considering the parent plant and the seed itself. To set seed most plants need to be pollinated male to female and many plants are self-fertile. Having taken a deal of trouble to attract pollinators or pollination most plants package up the seeds and plan how to distribute them.

Berries and fruit have a soft or pithy outer case to help. Birds ingest elderberries and deposit the seed where they will.
Poppies have a pepperpot shaker type seed head that allows some ripe seed to be sprinkled each day over several days or weeks.
Aquilegia seed pods contort and twist to ping out seeds in a squirting motion so they travel a distance.
Dandelion seeds have feathery tufts to allow the wind to blow them where you don’t want them (but I said I would save these comments to the end)

So from these examples you can see seed pods protect and help distribution of the seed.

Seed Size and Features
Seeds vary in size and shape and many will become familiar to the regular gardener. A conker, pea or a grain sized Mesembryanthemum all have the same function to reproduce plants and maintain the survival of the species.

A good big one beats a good small one is a modern quote and in the vegetable garden leek and runner bean seeds are saved from good parent plants. Note it is the plant not necessarily the seed where size counts. Flower seeds should all be sown to get a choice of seedlings to plant out.

Some seeds have hard coats to protect them and legumes like Lupins or Sweetpeas may need the coat soaking in water or chipping or sanding the outer coat to allow moisture to start the germination phase.

Seeds from Alpines or bulbs generally need a period of cold so are sown in autumn or stratified in the fridge and brought into gentle heat in spring.

Special Treatment
Seeds are programmed to germinate when they expect conditions to suit. You can help provide the growing conditions they need.
Moisture or water is the first key ( so do not save seeds in damp conditions for later sowing they may have germinated and died before you get to sow them).    Temperature is the second issue as seeds are programmed to germinate when the seedling has a chance of survival. So tropical plants will need more warmth than say native Cornflowers.
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Heritage Seeds and Varieties

Lettuce -  Bijou & Freckles

Radishes not tasting like they use too?  Blemish free supermarket crops without taste or aroma?  A bland selection of seeds from your nurseryman to grow the same varieties as your neighbour? Well there is a movement to bring back and promote the old varieties that would change all that. Heritage varieties are an imposing collection of ancient vegetable and other varieties saved and collected by specialist companies to tempt our taste buds and maintain our heritage plants.

Here are some  UK seed supplier links together with many other international seedsmen offering specialist heritage and heirloom varieties.


Tips for Growing Seeds


June is a good month for sowing seeds to get the plants you want for next year. I have sown some biennials today and will sow other seeds after the ‘hot’ summer.

Growing from Seed General Tips

  • Do not sow in winter or in waterlogged ground or the seed will rot. ‘Sow dry and plant wet’.
  • Annuals will flower 12 weeks after sowing but perennials may take up to 12 months or more.
  • Do not cover seeds with 6 inches of soil they will never see the light of day. Generally a light covering will suffice.
  • Seed in foil packets may stay fresh for 2 years as advertised on the packet but you want good germination rates so use good fresh seed.
  • Read and follow the instructions on the packet but don’t be afraid to try collected seed.

Biennial Seeds Sown Today

  • Sweet William Early Summer Scented are a mixture of Dianthus barbatus to flower from next April. I filled a seed tray with moist seed compost (peat and peat substitute tends to dry out then be hard to re-wet) then took a pinch of seed and sprinkled them evenly.
  • Wallflower Blood Red is another fragrant spring flower sown in shallow rows outside. (Rows help show where the wallflowers grow compared to weeds which will come up at random).
  • Campanula Pyramidalis’s very fine seed has been sown in modules and also direct into cultivated soil raked to a fine tilth. (Tilth is very fine top soil with lumps broken down in which to sow your seeds). I haven’t tried these before so they got a bit more TLC.
  • I could have sown other biennials including Foxgloves and Honesty or winter flowering Pansy but there is still time for me to buy them.

Seeds to Sow this Year for Next Year

  • Perennials like Aquilegia McKana Giant mixed will be sown on the surface of compost as they need light to germinate in September or October.
  • Marigolds (Calendula not French) and Cornflower sown in September will survive the winter and should get off to a quick start next year.
  • Sweet Peas can be sown in October to over winter. They need a deep root run and can be sown in long tubes.

Seeds from T&M


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