One of the most common mistakes made during sowing is that, when told to water the pots or trays well, gardeners will pour water onto the top of the compost. Unfortunately, this will simply compact the compost and undo all the careful work you have done so far. The best way to water is to do so from the bottom. To do this, stand the trays or pots in about 3cm of water and leave them until the surface of the compost becomes wet. At this point, remove them from the water and allow to drain for at least 30 minutes.

Packet into handMost seed packets clearly state that the seeds should be sown thinly. However tempting it is to add a few more ‘just in case’, always stick to the instructions. Sowing seeds too thickly will result in poor growth as they will be overcrowded and the seedlings will compete with each other.

For all seeds, follow the instructions on the seed packet but, as a guide, cover them to a depth of about three times their diameter. If the seeds are very small, why not try using a fine flour sieve to cover them with a thin layer of compost.

Very large seeds such as beans and marrows require a different approach. sowing seedsFor these seeds, it is best to insert them into individual small holes of the appropriate depth. Ideally, they should be started in a propagator but, you can achieve nearly the same effect by covering the tray or pot with cling film or a sheet of glass or plastic. This reduces evaporation and the chances of the seeds drying out. Once covered, the pots or trays need to be placed where the ideal temperature can be maintained. Although this temperature can fall a little at night, warm conditions must be maintained at all times. If you are using a windowsill during the day, you should move them to a warmer location overnight.