So as promised, here is the first in my "how to grow" series. Some of these are so simple that I feel a little silly sharing them, but I guess for people that don't know and are interested to learn then they might be helpful. Before I started to grow my own fruit and veggies, I didn't have a clue where to start, so I hope this series will be good for anyone wanting to learn! If you have anything you're particularly interested in growing but are unsure how, leave a note in the comments section and I'll try to do a how to on it.
1. You need a little tray to start the seedlings off in. The first year I tried growing lettuce, I sowed them straight outside which was an incredibly bad idea as the slugs ate them as soon as they sprouted! So it's best to start them inside. I've started using these old takeaway boxes as they're ideal and have a lid which is perfect, but any tray will do, you can recycle something or buy the trays from garden centres.
2. Poke some holes in the bottom of your tray if it doesn't already have some. I used a pin for these but a small nail would be better as these are a little too small and I'll have to be careful not to overwater them.
3. Fill the trays with compost, leaving a gap of about one or two cm from the top.
4. Thinly sprinkle lettuce seeds over the compost. Don't tip the seeds straight from the packet as it's too easy to end up with a big clump. Tip some into your hand and sprinkle them over. For these trays, I put a mixture of iceberg lettuce and a pretty, marbled butterleaf lettuce. Finely cover with some more compost, then firm down the entire tray with your hand. Water gently so as not to wash the seeds away.
5. Poke a couple of holes in the lid if what you're using has one and snap into place; if not you can use cling film, or it's not actually imperative that you had a lid, it just helps keep the seeds a little warmer. Put them on a sunny windowsill, and keep checking daily that the compost is damp, but not saturated.
6. When shoots start to appear, take the lids off and leave them off. Let them grow on in the tray for a while longer. If they seem too close together, then you will need to thin them by pulling some out so they are more evenly spaced.
7. When seedlings are big enough, transplant them into containers or the garden and let them grow to full size: