Even frost-hardy early starters can be speeded up

Early daffodils and shrubs. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Early daffodils and shrubs. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

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Moss curled parsley is one of the early starters for me. It’s a biennial plant, capable of standing outdoors through any frost, and this makes it so useful for the kitchen.

The seeds can take up to six weeks before germinating, even when offered a constant 15 degrees centigrade in the enclosed propagator, but this time can be halved by soaking them first. Empty the contents into an egg cup or saucer and cover with warm water. Leave them soaking overnight before broadcasting over the surface of compost in a prepared container.

Mine go into a module tray, a little pinch to each cell, before covering with vermiculite. The first shoots appear after two weeks.

Cell trays are also useful when sowing seeds of leaf lettuce as the small clusters of plants are so easily handled and transferred with a plug of root-ball attached later.

Our early crops are grown in the greenhouse border after a dressing of general fertiliser has been forked in. Just beyond the seedling stage they can be harvested with scissors, and picking continues up to May when there are young tomato plants ready to take over the border.

The sowing process can be bypassed if you opt for young plug plants. Most seed firms offer both options.