With the second round of Woolworths ‘Discovery Garden’ promotion well underway, Food from Home thought it timely to provide some additional information to make the most of your free seeds.
While we think it’s great that Woolies is providing us more opportunities to grow food (particularly as a substitute to a collection of plastic figurines), there are a few extra things that we think are worth knowing to ensure success with your growing Discovery Garden collection!
When to plant – Don’t be tempted to start all of your seeds now.
This may be hard to explain to eager children, but if you want your seeds to sprout and end up on their dinner plate – it might be worth waiting. Not all the seed varieties that Woolworths has released are ready to plant in Summer and Autumn. Unfortunately, Woolworths chose to only publish a planting guide online – which isn’t good news for those of us who got excited and rushed to plant them immediately. The Woolworths planting guides can be found here, or you can check out our cheat sheet which provides all the planting information in one convenient infographic!
Another thing to consider is our climate here in South East Melbourne. Just because Woolworths says spring onions can be planted all year round – it doesn’t mean that it is the best time to plant. It might be worthwhile doing some further investigating into what grows well in your area. We love this handy planting guide from Local Food Connect which provides some climate-specific recommendations!
Where to plant – Consider where you plant your seeds.
Start your seeds in a warm, light and well-ventilated environment. Like the majority of us who don’t have a greenhouse handy, a windowsill (without too much direct sunlight) is perfect. Set them up somewhere you walk by regularly so you can also keep an eye on whether they need watering – as the pots provided can get dry quickly. We love this clever hack from Plastic Free Brisbane, who suggest using old plastic strawberry punnets as mini greenhouses for your seed pots! Wait until your seeds have sprouted before considering upgrading them to a sheltered outside location to ‘harden off’.
How to plant – Avoid using the pop-out cardboard plant labels.
The plant labels provided are made of cardboard, which can crumple and breakdown when exposed to water. Don’t risk losing track of what you planted – and try using some other DIY or recycled options for labelling. We love these ideas from Mr Brown Thumb using old milk cartons or icy pole sticks. Keep your cardboard labels aside and somewhere safe, as they’ll also provide you with important information about when to expect your seeds to sprout (heads up – they won’t all sprout at once), when to repot, and when to harvest!
- Want to troubleshoot an issue? Woolies have an FAQ page where you might be able to get your questions answered. Otherwise, you can always post your question in our Food from Home Community and have other local gardeners answer it for you!
- Wondering what to do when it comes time to repotting? Particularly if you are limited by space or budget? Fortunately, many of the plants included in the Discovery Garden range can be grown in pots, planters, containers or grow bags! You can get creative with things that you might already have at home (ice-cream containers, polystyrene boxes, jars, wheelbarrows, buckets or pallets etc.), or consider asking your local Facebook ‘Buy Nothing’ group for requests!
- If your seeds are lucky enough to make it to harvest, make sure to check out the great range of video recipes on the Woolworths website. These recipes feature all the ingredients that you’ll be growing as part of your Discovery Garden!
- Don’t be disheartened if your seeds don’t sprout. There are a number of factors as to why your seeds don’t germinate – and sometimes it can be no fault of your own. We encourage you to try again, whether it’s with seeds or seedlings! Growing food can be a process of trial and error, but it is a great lesson in persistence and patience (especially for children). If you’re new to edible gardening, you might like to check out Food from Home’s beginner-friendly resources on getting started.
If the Discovery Garden promotion has you feeling inspired, remember that you can pick up even more free seeds as part of the Food from Home ‘Free Seeds’ initiative. Register your interest in receiving free seeds here, or pick them up directly from one of the seven participating library services in the City of Greater Dandenong, the City of Casey and Cardinia Shire!
Happy growing, and good luck! 🌱
– Kate (FFH team)