National Gardening Week: Our Gardening Apprentice Lauren talks seed propagation

It’s National Gardening Week and our Gardening Apprentice Lauren is back with a new blog post, this time discussing seed propagation. Lauren’s apprenticeship is a two-year course, kindly funded by the Linbury Trust, involving a four-day working week at Chiswick House & Gardens. 

Its me Lauren again, sorry I have been away for a while. It is a very busy period within the gardening season!

I’d like to tell you a little about where us gardeners have spent quite a lot of time the last few weeks. From talking to a few volunteers these last months, I realised that hardly anyone knew about our beautiful, and super useful, Melon House. 

Our Melon House

The Melon House is where we propagate plants and sow all our seeds. The design of this glass house is actually sunken, the reason for this is for its use of passive energy. This means is is warmer than a ground level house as the heat gets trapped and spreads evenly around the room for warmer temperatures.


Stephen, our kitchen gardener, sowing seeds

Many many seeds have been sown in the last few months, starting off with broad beans which are already in the ground. Then we moved on to tomatoes and Brussels sprouts which have already been potted on (moved to larger pots for more space to grow). Our seed benches are nearly full all the time, but in rapid rotation from seed modules, to potting on to planting outside in the last week or two.

We mostly use modules to sow our seeds in as they take up very little room as there are 30 individual cells in one module case. They are very robust so the hard plastic module trays can last up to 25 years. The only downside of them, is they only hold a small amount of soil so they need to be watered quite frequently. Our Melon House plants are watered first thing in the morning and just at the end of the day. Our gardening team loves to see happy hydrated plants!

The module trays for the Kitchen Garden

We grow the majority of vegetables and flowers from seed in the Kitchen Garden. I will never get bored of watching them germinate. When you sowing from seed you really have put all your love in from birth to hopefully a healthy adult plant which produces yummy foods to eat. You feel like a real parent to the veg and flowers!

The Melon House is also used for taking cuttings, potting on many different plants and a third of the space is used for the propagation of our very special camellia collection. We are lucky to have a misting bench, which our camellia cuttings were just released from to be potted on to become larger stronger in 10cm pots.

Lauren potting Brussels sprouts

I hope this gives a small insight to how propagation works at Chiswick. I’ve learnt so much in the last few months!