Are you sowing seeds right now? It’s a great low-cost way to grow your own vegetables, herbs and salad crops – not to mention lots of garden flowers and plants. And you don’t have to be a gardening pro to do it.
Having the right tools for planting seeds can really make life easier, and also increase your chances of success. Don’t be put off if you’re unable to get hold of some things though; there’s always a way to improvise with what you’ve got!
The best tools for planting seeds
Here’s my list of the basic garden tools for planting seeds, plus suggestions for alternatives if you don’t have access to the shops.
Basic pots or trays in a range of sizes are ideal for growing seeds, and you’ve probably got a few gathering dust in the shed or garage. If you’re buying new pots, try to avoid plastic; there are *biodegradable alternatives widely available now and the more we choose them, the more pressure we create on suppliers to stop using plastic themselves. If you’ve already got a collection of plastic pots, re-use them as much as possible to limit their impact on the environment.
Improvised plant pots
Your recycling bin is your friend here. Yoghurt pots, juice cartons, tin cans (be careful with sharp edges) and plastic drinks bottles can all be transformed into plant pots. Give them a good wash first, cut tall containers down to a sensible size, and make sure you poke some drainage holes in the bottom.
A *potting station is a very simple piece of gardening kit that keeps your pots, compost and tools in one place for easy access. There’s usually a shelf for smaller items like seed packets and plant markers too. It’s light and portable, so you can move it around easily. If you’re gardening with children it also makes it super-easy to set things up at the right height for kids to use.
Improvised potting station
A decent-sized cardboard box makes a good temporary potting station, just cut the top and front off to create an open-topped, three-sided box. Obviously being made of cardboard it won’t be a long-term piece of kit, but you should be able to make it last for a few sowing sessions.
Lots of people like to garden with their bare hands, but I wouldn’t be without a good pair of *gardening gloves. In addition to forming a barrier between you and the elements, they’re also great for protecting you from prickly plants and scratchy twigs. You should be able to move your hands properly while wearing them, so look out for styles that are available in a range of sizes. *Children’s gardening gloves are also widely available, usually in some pretty crazy colours and patterns to keep things interesting.
Improvised gardening gloves
Rubber gloves will protect your hands, obviously they won’t be as durable but they’ll do the job.
A *hand trowel is perfect for filling your pots with compost, and also for transferring compost from the bag to the potting tray. Try to choose one with a strong scoop and a smooth handle which feels comfortable in your hand.
Improvised hand trowel
If the kids have any decent-sized scoops or sand spades in their outdoor toy collection these can make perfectly good trowels. Just don’t try to use them to dig your borders as they’re probably not very strong. The other obvious option is to just use your hands!
Child-sized tools for planting seeds
If you’re gardening with children, it’s well worth having some *smaller tools that they can handle easily. A trowel and a fork are usually enough. These smaller tools also come in handy for adult use when you’re working on small pots; they help to get the compost just where you want it without so much spillage.
Improvised child-sized tools
Again, outdoor toys such as scoops and sand spades will do the job. And kids don’t usually need much encouragement to use their hands to play with soil! Just make sure they wear gloves or wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.
Most seeds need a light dusting of compost on top of them, and a *soil sieve is brilliant for this job.
Improvised soil sieve
I really don’t think you should be using your kitchen sieve here! Instead use your hands to sprinkle soil onto your seeds, this is a nice activity for kids to have a go at too.
Unless you want to play a guessing game when your precious seedlings emerge, make sure you label every pot you plant up. Try to avoid plastic if you’re buying new *plant labels; go for wood, slate or metal instead.
Improvised plant labels
The recycling bin is a good resource here too. Reasonably sturdy plastic bottles or trays can be cut down into label shapes, try to use light-coloured ones as writing will show up easier on these. You could even get crafty with the kids and make your own plant markers – have a look at my garden craft pinterest board for lots of ideas.
A *watering can is an essential piece of gardening kit for growing seeds, because they need to be watered gently to avoid washing them away or damaging young shoots. Try to choose a watering can that has a ‘rose’ head attachment, this turns a single gush of water into a fine shower. This is another area where tools aimed at kids come in handy; I always water seeds and seedlings with the kids’ *mini version because it’s much easier to control the amount of water.
Improvised watering can
Plastic milk bottles make brilliant watering cans. Simply wash out the bottle and pierce some small holes in the lid. Make sure you screw the lid on tightly before you use it!
And that’s it: all the tools for planting seeds you need, plus ideas for what to use when you can’t get hold of supplies. Happy planting!
More seed sowing advice
For more seed sowing advice you might also like to check out these posts:
What are you growing from seed this year?