Seeds and Plants

Vegetable Seeds

Fruit Trees and Bushes

Purchasing good quality seeds & plants at affordable prices is an essential requirement for all allotment gardeners

We've found the following companies online, which together we think offer a wide range of varieties from the household favourites to the rare & unusual

 

Tip: Some of these companies offer discounts for clubs & societies so don't forget to check the offers

Growing your own cabbage on the allotment
Gardening Direct

Plant Types

Sowing seeds and growing plants is the core function of the allotment gardener and providing you understand the basics, it’s a reasonably straightforward task

First of all you need to know what you are growing. All Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables will fall into one of these three categories:

1. Annuals

Annuals are plants that go through their entire life cycle in one growing season. Typically growing from seed in early spring, maturing during the summer, flowering and setting seed late summer/autumn before eventually dying away with the onset of winter. As you would expect, plants in this category tend to grow quickly and the seeds are usually sown directly into their final position

2. Biennials

Biennials are plants that take two years to complete their life cycle. Typically starting from seed and reaching a semi-mature state in the first season and flowering and setting fruit and seed in the second season. Can be sown in their final position, but most gardeners favour starting them off in a nursery bed, greenhouse or cold frame and planting them into their permanent home during the autumn of season one or spring of season two

3. Perennials

Perennials are plants that are capable of living for several years if the climate and conditions suit them. They will produce flowers and fruit year after year. As always, they can be sown directly into their final position but it is much more common to start them off in controlled conditions such as seed trays and pots and plant them out when they are large and study enough to stake their place in the garden

 

Within each category there will be examples of tender and hardy varieties. There are also several sub-categories within these three main groups, such as woody perennials and herbaceous perennials. Woody perennials being plants that keep their growth and extend it year after year – typically trees and shrubs. As opposed to herbaceous perennials which may see all the season’s top growth die away only for the plant to spring back to life again the following spring emerging from the surviving rootstock.

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Sowing Seeds

Sowing seeds outdoors

As always preparation is important, most seeds require loose well-drained soil. However, deep digging is best done in advance to allow time for the soil to settle prior to sowing. Digging in organic matter in the autumn always pays dividends in the spring.

Just before sowing, loosen the ground with a fork if necessary, removing any weeds or large stones in the process. Rake the ground level crushing any clods of dirt as you go. Set a line for where you wish to sow and make a drill by drawing the edge of a rake or hoe carefully along the line. Be guided by the instructions on the seed packet with regards to the depth.

 

A top tip is to water the seed drill before sowing the seeds. This avoids inadvertently washing the seeds away. Don’t get too carried away with the sowing. Thinly scatter the seed into the bottom of the drill as you will most likely have to thin them out afterwards anyway. Sowing too densely and over-crowding in general can often encourage disease and damping off

Gently cover the seeds by drawing a little soil over them with the back of the rake. Remember the most common mistake at this point is to bury them too deeply. Again, be guided by the sowing instructions on the seed packet

Some protection may be required to protect from pests or the weather

Don’t forget to mark and label the ends of the row(s) and finally, keep the soil moist

 

 

Sowing seeds under cover

Sowing seeds indoors allows tender plants to be started off earlier than would otherwise be possible, which means once the weather warms up they can go into the ground as young plants rather than a seed, giving them a head start

Small seeds are usually sown in seed trays with the resultant seedlings being pricked out later. Some larger seeds may be sown directly into individual pots. In all scenarios well drained compost is essential. As always follow the sowing instructions on the seed packets with regards depth

When pricking out the seedlings loosen the compost around the roots with a stick and gently lift the seedling by holding the leaves not the stem, as this can cause fatal damage to the young fragile plant

Make sure the plants stay moist but never water-logged and ensure they have enough light otherwise they will stretch and spoil

 

 

Most leading seed merchants offer free comprehensive guidelines on their websites, so take advantage of them

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Last updated:  11/11/2019