Don't sow seed too early in spring

Don't sow seed too early in spring

It's still early in winter but I'd like to write about why it's so important not to start sowing your seeds too early.

Many people read books and articles written in the northern hemisphere, for northern hemisphere conditions not realising that we have much different conditions here in Australia. Keep in mind that I'm writing about southern Australian conditions which are different from the tropics.


Everywhere in Australia we have a much longer growing season than where most writers are from in the US or UK. Since most vegetable crops take 3 months, or 4 to be on the safe side, we don't have to start our seeds earlier than they would naturally germinate. There is no need to try string them in pots on your window sill at the start of spring.


Many of our vegetable crops like tomatoes and pumpkins, and their relatives need temperatures that don't go under 10 C. even at night. I used to sow my seeds in early October but the last few years our nights have often, or usually, dipped below 10 degrees so I've had to sow in November instead.


Our growing season is well long enough to leave off sowing until Christmas if you like.


You will find, if you experiment, that plants that are grown at the right time will catch up with, and often outperform, those sown early when it's too cold. There is no need to have those seedlings suffering and trying to reach for light indoors in early spring, when you can have much stronger and faster growing plants if you just wait a little longer.


Another thing to keep in mind is that many vegetables planted too early, such as those considered biannual, like most brassicas and root crops, will take the transference from cold to warm as a sign that they should start to flower. This is why so many beginner gardeners complain about early bolting of vegetables. Those vegetables are programmed to start growing in warm conditions, then go through winter, then flower the next spring. When you plant them early in spring they start growing, then go through some cold nights (winter to them) and then some warmth that triggers flowering.


I understand how frustrating it is to wait when the days get longer and start getting warmer. It's hard to sit back when you're itching to plant things. Sometimes getting better results is worth it though.

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