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Direct seed sowing


Use this method to sow seeds in the soil or in raised beds, containers or a polytunnel . Ensure you follow the instructions on the seed packet for the correct time of year and specific instructions.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: Early Autumn, Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn how to make a seed drill and sow seeds at the correct spacing
  • Learn how to write a label to mark planting rows


Ensure the area is weed free to begin with.
Rake the soil gently so it is fine and crumbly and is reasonably level.
Use gardening gloves.


  • Trowel
  • Hand rake
  • Dibber
  • Measuring stick
  • Kneelers 
  • Gardening gloves
  • Watering can
  • Labels & waterproof pen/pencil
  • String
  • Sticks, or straws (to mark rows)
  • Seeds 

Step by step

  1. Read the seed sowing instructions on the seed packet to work out the sowing distances. 
  2. Make a channel in the soil: place the spacing stick on the soil and make a narrow channel (known as a 'drill') by running the tip of a trowel, or dibber against the side of the spacing stick. The seed packet will tell you how deep it needs to be.
  3. Water the drill very carefully before sowing the seed.
  4. Sow seeds along the drill. Open the seed packet carefully and place seeds into an easy to access container such as a shallow plastic saucer, or tub. If they are small seeds, use your index finger and thumb to pinch a small amount of seed and sprinkle very sparingly just above and along the drill. Large seeds can be sown along the channel, using the spacing stick to measure the distance between each seed.
  5. Cover the seeds by carefully raking the soil back over the channel, using a rake or the back of a towel.
  6. Remember to label the row where you sowed the seeds stating the name of the plant and the date.

Hints & tips

  • With small seeds, empty the packet into a small pot and mix with sand so seeds will go further along the drill  
  • Avoid sowing seeds on windy days!

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