Gardening: Protect seedlings just like sow...

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When sowing seeds at this time of year, it pays to keep an eye on the weather. We have packets of seeds waiting to be sown but with the very cold weather we’ve decided to hold off on outdoor sowings.

It is possible to start some seeds off early in a greenhouse, polytunnel, cold frame or a cool windowsill and plant them outside once the soil has warmed up.

Peas are a good example, sown in cold, wet ground they are liable to rot so we will get them going undercover in our polytunnel. However, peas dislike their roots being disturbed. To prevent this we use a technique where peas are sown into lengths of old guttering.

Simply cut a length of guttering to the same length as the row of peas you want to achieve and drill holes in the base. Fill with compost and sow the seeds about 7.5cm apart in a zig-zag pattern.

Once the seedlings are about 10cm high, gradually acclimatise the plants to outside conditions by taking the gutter outside for progressively longer periods of time for about two weeks. In order to transplant the seedlings, dig out a shallow trench and gently slide the whole row of pea seedlings into it. Whilst the plants are growing, provide support such as fine twiggy branches or netting.

It’s hard to imagine but hopefully the weather will improve soon and let us get growing.

For those keen to learn more about growing there is an exciting pilot project starting in Edinburgh in April. The Caledonian Master Gardener Programme is an innovative training and accreditation programme for Scottish gardeners with an interest and commitment to the promotion of gardening skills and horticultural knowledge through volunteering.

For more information on the programme go to If you are interested in becoming a Caledonian Master Gardener then email to book your place.

• The Edible Gardening Project is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, we teach people the skills and knowledge they need to grow their own food.