Gardening with Lynda Hallinan

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 3:25 pm on 17 September 2021

If you're a home gardener, lockdown has some advantages as it's a good time to sow and nurture seeds, says gardening guru Lynda Hallinan.

"For the first time in my adult life, I'm at home all day to look after them," she tells Jesse Mulligan.

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Photo: 123RF

To get started, you'll need something to put seed raising or potting mix in, a container and some seeds, Lynda says.

"The good news is that the seed companies are still shipping so you can still order online from Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds or you can get some at the garden centre, depending on which part of the country you are."

Once you've gathered the above, all you need is something to put the seeds in.

"You can use anything, if you've only got recycled ice-cream containers, just poke some holes in the bottom of that and go for it. And then just try to keep them nice and warm."

The contrast between day and night temperatures is the big challenge for seed raising, she says.

"Sow your seeds, get them all into the soil, and then cover them with something.

"So if you've got a clear plastic bag, they're a bit hard to come by these days, but if you've got some plastic bags you can just put the whole seed tray inside the plastic bag, so it keeps the humidity up, or bubble wrap.

"If you've got some bubble wrap, just lay a piece of bubble wrap over the top of the tray."

Perhaps consider putting your seeds in the car if it's currently parked up, unused.

"The car's not going anywhere at the moment, it's parked outside, it's nice and warm. And if you think about it, every time you open your car during the day, it's always warm, right?

"So, you can use it kind of like a mobile glasshouse and I put my tomato seeds in the back of our car, which has got a hatchback boot and they have germinated, even though the temperature at night is nowhere near the sort of 20 degrees that they normally need."

Seeds need warmth to germinate and they will still germinate in the dark, Lynda says.

"You can put them in a hot water cupboard if you've got one of those [or] on top of the fridge if you've got an old fridge. Some of the old fridges weren't very well insulated, and so they had nice warmth on top.

"Then as soon as they sprout, that's when they need light. As you start to see those first little green shoots coming through, you've got to get them out into the light."

Lynda brings her seedlings inside at night.

"What you tend to do at this time of the year is take them out during the day. And then every night turn around and bring them all back inside where it's warmer.

"And this is a bit of a faff but to be honest, I've got the kids at home and so I make them help me do it!"

Remember to keep the soil moist when the seedlings are inside, she says.

"The one thing you just need to be aware of is that that will dry out the seed mix and so just make sure you keep pouring the water on keep it moist at all times.

All going well, you'll have plenty of seedlings to plant out in late October, she says.

"Those seedlings will grow really well in the end, everything will be ready to go into the ground come Labour Weekend, and that's the main planting time."

Vegetables to sow now:

"Tomatoes, it's still a little early for beans, but you know, I've got all mine in, so who am I to tell you not to? Pumpkins, capsicums, broccoli, spinach, rocket, all the lettuces, everything like that can go in.

"The key is just to not put it into cold soil yet so you can keep them growing in a seed tray for up to a month with no problem at all."

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