Early sowing

I have recently sown some Greyhound cabbage seeds in single modules of a polystyrene tray which I placed on a heated tray. I used multi-purpose compost.

The idea was to have small plants which could be potted on individually rather than the random, overcrowded nature of my normal seed sowing!

80% of the seeds are now up and, despite removing the tray from the heat (its now just on an indoor shelf near the window in the house), the stems are an average of 2" long before the first pair of seed leaves. These leggy plants are what I am trying to avoid.

The stems of tomato seeds I planted are also around 1" before the seed leaves.

What am I doing wrong?   



  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 14,243

    Usually leggy plants mean there isn't enough light. One reason I don't sow seeds until March, but others do. I don't have a light enough window sill and the greenhouse is too cold.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    Keeping the far too warm-cabbage does not need heat to germinate-and not giving term enough all round light

    The same with the tomatoes-do you have a greenhouse?image

    When you pot on you can bury the stems up to the first sets of leaves-but unless you can give them the right follow on treatment is is worth waiting and not starting so early.

  • Thanks Busy-Lizzie and sotongeoff. Yes, I do have a greenhouse but its not heated.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I would get the cabbages in the greenhouse now-give them a bit of protection for these cold nights-you want tough plants to put in the gardenimage

    The tomatoes need better light-but it will be too cold in the greenhouse at present

  • Thanks, I'll do that. I'll also try sowing a few inside but not on a heated surface.

    Its always frustrating seeing solid, compact-looking brassica seedlings in garden centres around March/April so I'm trying to replicate!

  • I started off some chilli, tomato and cucumber seeds in a propagater ( is it an o or an e at the end?) within a week they are all germinated and now sitting on the bathroom window ledge. Never known them to be that quick.

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    All my brassica seeds have now germinated in a cold GH. I just left them on a shelf and because of the damp weather have not even found the need to water them

    Sounds good way to grow your seedlings maud image

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Gatehill, we have a Nursery just up the road with fields of greenhouses, they produce those solid looking early plants by giving artificial light and moderating the air temperature and it shows in the price they charge.
    Here in the North East we wait, sowing early does not give an early start as normal sown seeds catch up and often produce edible stuff at the same time as early seeds. Patience is the best advice to give a gardener and light is often more important than heat, unless you are growing rhubarb.


  • it really cheered me up being able to start sowing seeds. Its been a long wet winter and im ready for some sunshine.image

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 8,281

    The good news is you can bury the stem of both brassicas and tomatoes, planting them up to the first leaves but, IME, it's always better to wait a bit before sowing unless you have a very well lit place which remains between 5C and 15C.  The windowsill in an unheated room is usually about right.  Centrally heated rooms are too warm.  To maximise light, you can place part of a cardboard box covered in tin foil behind them, so the front of the seedlings get light directly from the window and the back of the plants get light reflected from the foil.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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