<aside> 💡 People always ask me where they can buy the things I mention in this book and my videos, I now have a solution for you, I’ve listed these items in my Amazon Store. The store includes comments on most items, please read these! Sometimes I refer you to a cheaper place to buy than Amazon for example.
I rarely sow anything directly into the open ground. I seems easier at first, but over the course of the plants lifecycle it's actually much easier to sow in modules. Like everything in life there are exceptions, the most notable of which are carrots and parsnips, but lets set those aside for a minute and see how I normally sow seeds.
<aside> 💡 I always use this for starting seeds and pricking out seedlings. Seed starting compost is suitable for everything I grow for the first 3-4 weeks.
Over the years I've tried a dozen different seed starting composts and I've almost always regretted it. I now stick with a single supplier who I trust completely.
In my worst experience I started my whole winter sowing in September in a highly recommended compost, seeds grew but then stopped growing. I went on holiday for a week and when I returned I was puzzled to see no further growth. I waited another week and still nothing. I kept questioning myself until I finally confronted reality, these seeds were never going to grow. By now it was nearly October and I was way behind. I pricked out the seeds into different compost and spent two days desperately driving around garden centres trying to find something for winter.
The pricked out seedling burst into life, I managed to find a few grotty garden centre rejects and we managed to grow just enough for winter, but it was very close.
The only compost I recommend even though it's not organic
Now I buy Levington Advance F2 Seed & Modular compost, it's completely consistent, suitable for everything, a joy to work with, but fairly expensive. However the cost is trivial by comparison with the value of the harvest, so it's unquestionably worth it, provided you are not 100% organic.
As seedlings grow they need more nutrients and can tolerate more variance in the compost you use. Many things don’t need to be potted on though as they can be planted within 3-4 weeks, this applies to lettuce, spinach, chard, radish, turnips and lots more. Brassica’s often don’t need to potting on after being pricked out and can stay in seed compost for 6 weeks as can tomatoes.
There are three approaches to consider:
The challenge with multi-purpose compost is that results can be a little unpredictable, athough larger plants are typically more tolerant of that unpredictability. If you can find a brand you trust that’s great. I typically use whatever my garden centre has on offer in spring, when problems are easy to correct by sowing more seeds. In late summer and autumn though, when timing really matters levingtons have a product I like and use, because results are very consistent, they also have a higher nutrient potting compost for tomatoes.
A great potting compost, but not the only one I use