Sowing Annuals in drills

If you spend a little time and effort at the sowing stage making drills, you will save time and energy later in the season.

Gardeners who sow by first raking the soil level, then taking out a shallow drill with a string line or a straight-edged board for guidance, have to spend longer getting the seed in. But they reap the benefits as the season progresses. First, the seedlings will emerge in neat straight lines. This makes the thinning out of seedlings to their required spacings a simple operation, and it makes reaching the seedlings easier, too. If the seedĀ­lings are scattered all over the ground, it may be impossible to reach the plants at the back of the bed without stepping on the ones in front. Moreover, the necessary job of weeding is made easier by drill-sowing, since it’s not easy otherwise to distinguish weed seedlings from the plants you want.

One note of caution, though. Annuals in beds and borders look their best in ‘drifts’ -soft-edged, rounded patches of colour -rather than in squared-off blocks and regiĀ­mental rows. To achieve this natural appearance without losing the advantages of sowing in drills, mark out the bed into small informal areas – overlapping circles, say -for each flower. Then draw the drills for the different areas at different angles. As the plants grow and spread, the lines of the original drills will blur and then vanish.