So I was lucky enough to interview head gardener, under gardener, and all round legend for Greystone's Garden in Henley, Oxfordshire this week- Here are some top tips on what you should be doing with seeds at this time of year.
So tell me - what should I be doing with seeds right now?
Well , I get my seed catalogues sent to me at this time of year. But I don't necessarily order my seeds from one catalogue. You see - by getting a good selection of catalogues, and browsing through them - you don't tie yourself to one supplier. I particularly like Sarah Raven's catalogue to browse through and get ideas. Then I look through others as well, pick my selection and go and buy them online. What a lot of people don't think about, especially going to garden centres, is that each garden centre generally has a deal with one, or possibly two seed suppliers. And this vastly limits your selection.
Why should I be thinking about seeds now?
Well if you order them now, you get the pick of the bunch. You'll find the selections get less throughout the season, and you're not left with the choice or the quality by the time you actually want the plants to be germinating.
What about last years seeds?
I catalogue all my left over seeds and put them in order. What you can do with packets - is check the use by date. Most of them have a use by date printed on the packet (make sure you don't rip it off when you open them - some are right at the top!). Seeds vary enormously in how many you get in a packet. With tiny seeds like nicotianas for example, you'll literally get hundreds in a packet - which can be far too many for one season. So with leftovers I simply store them until the next year - making sure they're still in date. A mistake of course to store them in the greenhouse though, you need to put them somewhere very cool and dark where they will lie dormant until the following year.
January's a fabulous time to get yourself organised, and just do a little bit of planning and think about your planting schemes. It's well worth it when it comes to later in the year when your diligence will surely pay off.