All About Potted Plants, Compost and Additives

Learn how to plan for the best growing conditions for your seeds by selecting the right pot, compost, and additives.

| February 2017

  • Potted Plants
    Repotting plants is an art that can make or break the plants ability to grow.
    Photo by Fotolia/wanchanta
  • Seedswap
    "Seedswap" by Josie Jeffery gives seed activists all the tools necessary to save and swap seeds!
    Cover courtesy Roost Books

  • Potted Plants
  • Seedswap

With the rise in genetically modified seeds many are looking to the past, to the days of seed saving and seed swapping. Swapping and saving seeds insures our planet's plant heritage, and the movement is gaining popularity. Seedswap (Roost Books, 2014), by Josie Jeffery, is the perfect introduction to saving seeds, with illustrations, easy to follow instructions, a glossary of plants and more. This excerpt comes from chapter 7, "Raising Seeds."

You can purchase this book from the Capper's Farmer store: Seedswap.

Before you sow your seeds, you need to have the right potting compost, additives and containers.


Use peat-free seed compost, which is eco-friendly and finer than normal potting compost. It makes better contact with the seeds. Seed compost also contains fewer nutrients, since they are not necessary for germinating seedlings, which use the food supply stored in the seed. Potting compost can be used for transplanting. To help with drainage, aeration and water retention, add one part horticultural perlite to two parts compost.


Plastic trays Use these for small seeds. They are cheap, retain warmth, and are washable, re-usable and strong. 
Wooden trays These are costly but will last for years if looked after. They retain warmth and the strong aroma of cedar wood trays can deter pests and diseases. 
Modules and 7.5cm pots Use these for large seeds that are sown individually or in twos or threes, such as sweetcorn or broad beans. This limits transplant shock. 
Recycled containers Re-use food tubs, tins, buckets, bags and old boots etc. Clean them and punch in drainage holes before use. 
Accessories Clear plastic covers can be used to keep seedlings warm, and capillary matting is a synthetic fibre that is placed under containers to supply them with greater reserves of water. 

Bottle Pots

Recycle a plastic bottle to make a self-watering pot by cutting it in half. Punch drainage holes with a hot needle in the spout end and remove the lid. Place the top end of the bottle upside-down into the bottom half, making sure the spout touches the bottom. Fill the top end with compost, packing it firmly into the spout neck. Sow seeds and water. The water will collect in the bottle bottom, which acts as a reservoir, and will be drawn up through the spout by capillary action.



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