experiments with seeds

I've always wanted to plant seeds and in recent years wanted to figure out how to do it more successfully. Results have been so hit and miss. I need to document and collect data: test

1. How long from sowing seeds until flowers are produced?

2. Which compost materials are best for germination?

3. Should the seeds be covered? in opaque or transparent material?

4. Which seedlings are most attractive to slugs?

Seeds 2018 (links to archive of past years: Archive 2016  Archive 2017 )

I'm thinking about the seeds I'm planting for Spring 2018. Every year I say to myself "fewer seeds!" and every year I go a bit mad.

I bought some seeds in Korea, clockwise from top left, Aster koraiensis (saw lots of this in Korea), Pulsatilla Koreana, Rose of Sharon (national flower of Korea), perilla, hyssop, chrysanthemum (saw lots of this in Korea).

Korean seeds

I ordered from Chiltern Seeds:

agastache Korean Zest (bit of a Korean theme going on here!),

Bugle (Ajuga reptans)

Centaurea moschata 'Imperialis'

Cleome spinosa 'Violet Queen' (saw cleome in Seoul so that got me interested)

corncockle (Agrostemma githago 'Milas Purple Queen')

poppies (Papaver somniferum Black Swan)

purple toadflax (linaria purpurea)

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)

Valerian (someone on FB said their cat loved it so I want to see how my cats like it)

Water mint (Mentha aquatica)

Scabiosa caucasia  (Perfection Blue)


bought from the garden centre

Franchi cat grass, edible for the cats

2 kinds of tomato seeds

After thinking I needed more edible flowers after seeing so many on MasterChef:

viola Chicky Chicks (Mr Fothergill's)

Winter Purslane (Kings Seeds)

nasturtium (Kings Seeds)

cornflower (Mr Fothergills)

leftover from last year:

Snapdragon (Franchi)

Echium Blue Bedder (Mr Fothergill's)

I've used seed trays and pots but 20-4-2018 I got a few fibre pots and "growing pockets" which I haven't used for years. I'm curious how they will work. This gives me 74 pots for seeds plus the 2 40-cell seed trays that had the muscari, 154 in total, I think I have enough for this year.

growing pockets fibre pots

I have some shelves to keep the seedlings away from the slugs but it hasn't been wholly successful.The slugs and snails can slither up them. Nowhere is safe.


Cat Grass (Mr Fothergills)

19-2-2018 With four cats, I like to have cat grass available for them on the windowsill. The last lot is done so I've started a new pot. I've put cling film over the pot to keep the seeds moist until they germinate. Cover the seeds or not? I'm not sure so some are on top and some are under the compost.

cat grass seed sowing

by the end of March I have a few seedlings, only 10, not impressive considering how many seeds I planted, and of course some other unexpected seedlings, I bought some more seeds to try another supplier

cat grass



not seeds but I am planting them this Spring

26-3-2018  I only ordered 1 pack of 25 from Peter Nyssen but when I saw them at Sainsbury's for only £2.50 I thought I'd try those as well. I soaked the corms overnight first. Last year I had a lot of fungus so I thought there was no hurry planting them. I don't think it does them any good to sit in soil for months before they start growing in the Spring.

ranunculus soaking

I put them on the top of some compost and then covered them with more compost.


about a month later, I have a few shoots sprouting from the corms

ranunculus sprouts

as of 8-5-2018




26-3-2018  I sowed 2 types of tomato seeds.The first row is Johnsons ??? only 10 seeds in the packet so 2 seeds per pot and Franchi Red Cherry in the next 3 rows, a few seeds per pot. I've covered them with plastic and put them on the windowsill inside as it's still quite cold outside.

tomato seeds sown

about 3 weeks later and they are doing great - too great, I need to thin them out

tomato seedlings

thinning out is one of the most difficult tasks (to me anyway) - you get seeds to germinate and then just discard them but we need to make the effort to ensure some will thrive

I thinned them out to 1, 2 or 3 to a pot but they need more thinning, I'm hoping to save more seedlings but ran out of pots and compost to replant them into

thinned tomato seedlings

the Cipano tomatoes I put 1 in a pot and from a packet of 10 seeds I have 10 plants, I'm pleased with that

cipano tomato seedlings

the slugs had 4 of those Cipano tomatoes, 6 plants remaining in the next 2 photos

Cipano tomato seedlings

2 larger ones on the left Cipano, others the Franchi red cherry

tomato seedlings


Corn Cockle

planted 27-3-2018, I've never grown these before but I love wildflowers both for the flowers and for the bees, pleased with the germination so far after 2 weeks

corn cockle seedlings

10 days later, looking good

corn cockle seedlings

as of 8-5-2018

corncockle seedlings


Echium Blue Bedder

planted 27-3-2018

last year these did well, I had seeds leftover, so far a resonable amount of germination after 2 weeks

echium blue bedder seedlings

a week later and the seedlings are looking good; some cells are empty but if I get a decent plant from each of these seedlings, that will be plenty

echium blue bedder seedlings

I've repotted the echium seedlings

echium seedlings

the 6 pots on the left are echium, 3 pots top right are corncockle, 7 pots bottom right, Cipano tomato

echium corncockle seedlings

pot on the left echium, 2 on the top right corncockle (bottom right ox-eye daisy)

echium corncockle seedlings

as of 8-5-2018, following 3 photos

echium blue bedder seedlings

echium blue bedder seedlings

echium blue bedder seedlings


Poppy Black Swan

planted 27-3-2018 the other side of the tray from the scabious, also thick fungus on the pots, great germination so far

poppy black swan seedlings

10 days later, I have tried to repot some to thin them out, the 12 fibre pots to the left in the tray are scabious, 7 seedlings of those

black swan poppy seedlings

as of 8-5-2018, some have been lost to slugs but still 14 small pots

poppy black swan seedlings


Scabiosa caucasica Perfection Blue

planted 27-3-2018 (?) it has been incredibly wet recently and the pots are all growing fungus which I've never seen before, after 3 weeks I have 2 seedlings

all the scabious seeds I've planted in the past have had poor germination

scabious seedlings

I now have 6 seedlings, not great but if I get 6 decent plants from the packet of seeds, that's something

scabiosa seedlings

as of 8-5-2018, managed to get 8 seedlings, quite small yet, slow-going

scabious seedlings


Viola Chicky Chicks

planted 7-4-2018 (?) the slugs have gotten to the seed packet which I put at the side as a label

viola chicky chicks

10 days later, not impressive but I know slugs have been around

as of 8-5-2018, not many but at least I have a few seedlings, differently shaped one top centre is actually snapdragon

viola seedlings


Mr Fothergills Cornflower

sown 7-4-2018, 9 days later some seedlings

cornflower seedlings

a week later

cornflower seedlings

sadly the slugs have gotten to these (by 8-5-2018), one of their favourite plants in my garden, a few plants may survive to flowering

cornflower seedlings



I've grown lots of muscari from bulbs and collected seed a few years ago, I'll have to check exactly when I started these, my aim was to see how long until they actually flowered

muscari seedlings

muscari seedlings

I thought I'd be able to fill this pot but it turned out there were too many

muscari seedlings

there were some foxgloves in the seed tray as well so I've made a pot with those, some muscari and there's viola there and a couple things I'm not sure of

muscari and foxgloves

also from last year is Monarda, not sure where in the garden to put it so just repotted it for the moment, I haven't grown it before so not sure how long it takes to flower or how large it gets

monarda small plants

monarda small plants

as of 8-5-2018

monarda small plants



I found a few seeds left from 2 years ago and I wanted to try out these expanding "pots", after a couple weeks, seedlings in every pot (12) until the slugs had a munch, they destroyed 4

chicory seedlings


Morning Glory

I had loads of seeds from the morning glory plants I had last year. I sowed them 2 or 3 weeks ago. Rather glow to germinate whereas in the past I thought they were quite fast.

morning glory seedlings


Catnip (nepeta cataria)

I can't remember now if I had leftover seeds or bought more but they haven't done very well and the slugs adore them. Poor germination and the few seedlings I got, the slugs had most of them. The tall ones below are not the nepeta. (I think I got these seeds recently from Chiltern Seeds but I'll have to check)

nepeta cataria


Sea Holly

I collected seed from my sea holly plants 2 years ago and planted the seeds last year. They germinated and grew well but the slugs love them so I put some in this trough rather than in the ground. I also had so many I wasn't sure what to do with them all. Now I wonder how long until they bloom. I have had small plants from the garden centre that never bloomed for 2 years or so, before the slugs got them. They obviously need some time to establish but I don't know how long.

sea holly