A guide to sowing seeds

Growing from seed is both the cheapest and most rewarding way grow your own – all it takes is a little patience!

Whether sowing into seed trays and propagators, or directly into the ground, have a go yourself this year and see what you can grow – you might surprise yourself!

Here are 8 basic steps to sowing seeds!

1. Choose a container

You can sow seeds in a proper seed tray bought in store or alternatively, you can make do with a biscuit tin, an old flower pot, empty food container or something similar. Be sure that they have adequate drainage holes though.

2. Fill with quality compost

Sow seeds in sterile, seed-starting mix or potting compost – we’d recommend John Innes Seed Sowing Compost. It’s important to keep soil consistently moist but avoid overwatering. An easy way to avoid overwatering is to dip base of your containers in water and allow the soil to absorb moisture from the bottom until moist.

3. Sprinkle your seeds

Sprinkle small seeds over the compost from the palm of your hand using your finger but be careful not to cover small seeds with soil, as it can smother them. Larger seeds can be placed one by one on the compost and then covered with a sprinkling of compost. Be sure to read the seed packet planting instructions carefully.

4. Cover your pots

Cover your pots with a clear polythene bag or plastic wrap, to maintain an even temperature for germination and then place your pots on a well-lit windowsill or in a heated propagator.

5. Give your seeds lots of light

Seedlings need a lot of light. If you’re growing on a window, choose a south-facing window and be sure to rotate the pots regularly to keep plants from leaning into the light.

6. Feed your seeds

Start feeding your seedlings after they develop their second set of true leaves, applying a half-strength liquid fertilizer weekly.

7. Transfer your seedlings

Once seedlings have grown a few pairs of “true leaves” and are big enough to handle without damage, they can be transferred into individual pots or trays.

8. Harden off and plant out

Once your plants have reached the stage where their roots are starting to emerge from the bottom of the pot, they can be planted out to their final location.

Team Tong’s FAvourite Seeds to sow

Have a go yourself at growing your own by sowing a few of our favourites this year! Browse our fantastic selection of seeds in store today!


Unwins Tomato Alicante – Mr Fothergill’s Tom Thumb – Mr Forthergill’s Onion De Paris – RHS Carrot Maestro


Mr Fothergill’s Basil Sweet – Country Value Chives – Unwins Parsley Robust – Mr Fothergill’s Mint Applemint 



Mr Fothergill’s Sunflower Alchemy – Unwins Calendula Pink Surprise – Unwins Foxglove Excelsior – Mr Fothergill’s Corn Chamomile 

*Subject to availability

Our most frequently asked questions about seed sowing

Can I sow seeds straight into the ground?

Any fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers can be grown from seed sown outdoors as long as the soil is warm and moist explains Phil, our garden sundries buyer. However, starting your seeds off indoors allows tender plants to be started off earlier in the season. When they have grown into young plants, they can be planted outside in the garden or vegetable plot once the weather is warm enough.

Do I need to use seed sowing compost?

Seedlings are tiny and delicate and therefore need a light compost so they can push through as they emerge from their seed says Steve, our plant buyer, says. Stay away from anything too heavy as this will smother the seedlings before they’ve had chance to surface. This results in poor germination rates and unhealthy plants.

Westland John Innes Seed Sowing Compost is perfect for bringing seeds to life and specially developed to help all seeds germinate successfully.

Do I need a greenhouse to grow my seeds?

Not necessarily! You can place your pots on a well-lit windowsill or in a heated propagator, just be sure to choose a south-facing window and rotate the pots regularly to keep plants from leaning into the light!

How often do I water my seeds?

Seeds normally need to be watered at least once per day to keep the soil moist. In especially warm climates, or depending on your soil or position in your home or garden, you may need to water more than once per day.

Our Simple seed sowing kit

6cm Round Fibre Pots

Classic 5 Tier Gro-Zone

John Innes Seed Sowing Compost

Elho Plant Labels

Organic Vegetable Plant Food

Elho Measuring Tape Scoop

Browse our seed sowing essentials in store!

*All products subject to availability

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