To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, Pitchcare gave Common Poppy seeds (Papaver rhoeas) away last November. We now have consistent soil temperatures and sporadic showers which is conducive to germination and, therefore, a good time to sow your Poppy seeds.
Poppy seeds can be sown outdoors directly into the soil and, if not dead-headed, will freely seed and provide plants in future years. Poppy seeds are notorious for lasting a long time within the soil profile. This is why they became synonymous with the trenches after the First World War; the movement of soil through bombing and trenches warfare exposed seeds that had lain dormant. When the conflict ceased the Poppies bloomed and were captured within the poem 'In Flanders Fields' and have come to be the internationally recognised symbol for Remembrance Day.
The soil should be turned over and broken down so that the seeds can come into contact with the soil. It is important to prepare the seedbed so that it is free of existing weeds. Sow the seeds at 1 gram per square metre, a 500 gram packet will therefore cover 500 m2.
Rake over the seedbed to lightly cover the seeds then gently firm the soil to increase the contact of the soil particles with the seeds then water them to help get them off to a good start.
Once the seeds have germinated, water as required to ensure the soil remains damp without being wet. Once the Poppies are 5cm's high they can be pricked out to leave the strongest or alternatively allow Mother Nature to weed out the weaker plants for you. Keep a vigilant eye out for competing weeds and remove them before they become a problem.
To help commemorate this poppy appeal Pitchcare's Photo Competition will be themed Poppies during the month of June giving people the opportunity to post photos of their poppies in flower. http://www.pitchcare.com/photo-competition