Local Leaders | In the Patch: Fragile seedlings need some tender, loving care

With the soil warming up and the risk of frost all but gone, now is a prime time to be sowing seeds and seedlings in your patch.

A LITTLE HELP: If your newly planted seedling looks sad, give it some protection from the elements.

A LITTLE HELP: If your newly planted seedling looks sad, give it some protection from the elements.

Most seeds and seedlings will appreciate a warm, sheltered position when first planted out. But, unfortunately, windy weather can make this difficult.

To minimise transplant shock with seedlings, water gently but thoroughly, both before and after planting (you can also add a little Seasol to your water). By the way, it's okay to water in the middle of the day if you have to.

Ideally you should plant in the cool of the afternoon or evening, then check on them the next day.

If their new location is exposed to drying winds or if your seedling starts to droop, you'll need to give them a temporary shelter so as to provide them with a calm, high humidity "micro-climate".

Upcycling some clear plastic containers from your waste is perfect for this task, for example a large drink bottle cut in half. Just be sure that the container has some way for hot air to escape; make some small holes near the top if necessary.

After a few days start gradually exposing the transplant to the elements and remove the "shelter" altogether once the seedling is established.

If you're sowing seeds, you'll want to keep the soil surface damp by keeping it covered.

A strip of hessian or other material works well, but keeping it in place can be challenging.

I find a length of timber, even an old gardening stake works well, just be sure to keep checking and remove once the first seedlings start to emerge.

Seeds I'm sowing at the moment include basil, beetroot, carrots, corn, cucumber, mixed lettuce, pumpkins, radish, rocket, spinach, squash, spring onion and zucchini.

I'm picking the last of the broccoli, kale and cabbage, plus beetroot, carrots, celery, coriander, buk choy, garlic, mixed lettuce, rocket, spinach, swiss chard, parsley, rosemary, oregano, sage and the first of the strawberries.

Happy sowing and growing to all.

 - DANIEL HARTWELL