Sowing sweet pea seeds

Now that we're into early spring, I'm thinking it's time to start sowing some seed. Hardy annuals are always good to start with, as these little toughies don't need high temperatures to sustain themselves. In fact, at times, some plants will self seed around the garden, and the only work you've to do is to enjoy them when (and where!) they flower.
The first seed I'm going to start with are sweet-pea (lathyrus odoratus). These are easy to grow, flower reliably and require only a small amount of soil preparation when planting. You can read what I've written before about them here. In the recent past I've concentrated on growing the white variety, which will do nicely this year. However, there are so many other colours to choose from I will indulge a little and pick some other shades. 
You can see my YouTube video on sowing seed here:
And sowing early spring onions here:
In writing this blog and doing the videos, I'm also reminded of my own words on keeping gardening easy, to encourage others to try their hand at sowing some seeds too.
So first things first. And when sowing seed, to start, you have to make sure you have the right ingredients to use. For the sweet pea, these are as follows:
Seed (in this case some sweet pea saved from two year's ago)
Seed tray, pots or seed modules (my choice for these) 
Compost (go for a compost recommended for seed)
Label(s)
Water
Propagator cover
As you can see from the picture, the first step is to fill the seed modules with compost. An easy task and one that doesn't take long. I firm the compost in the modules by lightly pressing into the corners with my fingers. I then use a little more compost to fill in any gaps or dips that has appeared. Next, level off the compost on the seed modules and leave them looking neat, with clean edges showing.The compost I use here is home made, however, if you're only doing a small amount, or a beginner, buy some seed compost in your local garden centre.  
Next step is to water in the compost. You can use a watering can with a rose on it or, as in my case, I used the garden hose turned on low with a nozzle on it to give a fine spray. You can sow seed straight away, although I do like to leave them to sit in order for the compost to settle.
And then it's time to sow seed, the fun part. The general rule of thumb, is that seed need to be covered by soil, twice their own depth. In the case of the sweet pea seed, this means putting about a centimetre (or half inch) of soil over them. My technique is very simply. I take a pencil and, with the blunt end, make a hole about three times the depth of the seed. I then put the seed into the hole, and cover it over ... et viola ... seed is sown.
 
Once all the seed have been popped in and covered, write your label giving the name and colour of your seed. I also like to put the date of sowing on it. Makes for interesting reading at a later date.  Now water the seed in. Again a watering can with a fine rose is useful. In my case, I used the tea pot with luke warm water. Watering at this point is important as it will move compost into any gaps or air pockets left by the seed sowing. Using slightly warmed water is a cheat to assist the seed thinking it's time to germinate. When using seed modules, it is useful to place them into a seed tray for handling. Which is what I've done in this case. I also have a propagator cover to put over them. This ensures a warm moist atmosphere, again, to encourage germination.  Place the unit onto a bright warm windowsill, or similar, and the seeds will germinate in no time. I have a little heated propagator, so I give them a couple of days in this first and then into a warmish spot in the greenhouse.  There are a few more steps to take before you're smelling these lovely fragrant flowers, however, sowing seed is the very first step. As we go through the coming months, we'll keep and see out for these seed and see how they get on. 
Happy gardening
This was an update from an earlier post at http://hughcassidy.blogspot.ie/2015/02/easy-gardening-sowing-seed.html