Seed squares. They’re one of our favorite products, but…what exactly is a seed square? And why is it better than loose seeds?
In simple terms, a seed square is an alternative way of planting a garden from seeds that are easier, more convenient, and less wasteful. In a seed square, organic seeds are strategically placed in the biodegradable paper. To use, you simply place the entire seed square sheet atop the soil and water for ten days. The paper will dissolve harmlessly into the soil and your seeds will be watered into the soil with ideal spacing.
We spoke to our seed square partner Andrew Gould to get the dirty details on exactly why seed squares are the best option for gardening.
Q: Why do you believe in the motto “Sow Simple”?
One thing about our products is that we’re trying to make gardening a combination of guaranteed success and maximum ease so that people who don’t have enormous confidence about going from seed — which is one of the key missions of ours—feel that they have a very good chance of success. Our products are obviously made with the correct seed, they’re pre-spaced, and they don’t require thinning out very often, which can be quite the laborious process.
I don’t want the products to appear as though they’re only for the first time gardener, because that’s wrong. They’re for people who don’t have huge amounts of time who like the idea of growing from seed, and they’re also for a whole vast group of consumers who think, “Oh I’d love to be able to grow from seed, but I don’t know the first thing about seeds.” By planting our products, if they only have ten minutes between going out to lunch and coming back from tea, they can do it. Or if they’ve gotten their nails done, they don’t have to be digging around in the soil and scratching their fingernails — it’s simple.
So mostly, every aspect of what we’re trying to do is making it as easy as possible for the consumer and as least time consuming as possible for the consumer to get a successful result growing from seed. Therefore, the logo is “Sow Simple” (with a slight play on words).
Q: Can you talk about how your seed squares make it easier?
Well, the seeds are selected from our sources throughout Europe and North America. Then, they are embedded in this specialist tissue paper, so they’re spaced in the right way where the customer doesn’t need to worry about handling seeds — some of these seeds can be very small indeed and therefore quite complicated.
Consumers also don’t need to worry about spacing the seed. With loose seed, however, some of these seeds grow up and will need to be thinned out. Otherwise, they will compete with each other.
Often, when gardeners start thinning, they pull up the good and the bad seeds together, and it all takes an awful lot of time. The thinning-out process is not so necessary using seed squares, because they’re already pre-spaced. Really all they have to do with ours is put it on top of the soil and cover it with water.
Q: How is your company “green to the core”?
Well, I think the most tangible evidence of that is that we are Soil Association Approved, which is the equivalent of your organic certified bodies in the U.S. Everything we use is organic. Our raw seeds are offered in organic and conventional. The tissues that surround the seed is very special tissue that is always 100% biodegradable and 100% chemical free, drawn from wood forests of northern Scandinavia. It’s designed to be fully compostable. It breaks down in the soil — as long as you keep it moist or wet, it will disappear into the soil without creating any problems from a green or organic point of view.
We don’t want to be putting plastics or inorganic matter into the ground. We want it all to disappear once it’s done its job. It won’t interfere with the seed’s germination or its natural growth thereafter.
Q: And how did you get here, how did you get to this company—what inspired this seed square product and mission for you?
I’d actually been working happily in horse racing for many years in London. Ten years to the end of that process, I moved out of London and into the countryside with my family, and I wanted to be more involved with my family and less involved with the train getting back and forth from the city. So I was scouting around for a business that appealed to me.
At the same time, my youngest daughter was growing some avocados from seeds. Seeing her wonder and awe at the rate of growth made me want to look at this company a little more closely. And, one thing led to another. It’s a great business, and it’s nice to be able to reach a lot of people who otherwise might not choose to grow from seeds.
Q: Do you personally have any growing experience?
I didn’t before this company. But that was one of the appeals to me. We moved our family out of the “big smoke,” if you will, and we were faced with an enormous green area in the countryside. I saw it as a massive opportunity to do the whole hog and start gardening.
Q: Do you grow now?
Yes, we grow now. I won’t pretend to be a horticultural expert, but we have a number of people on our board who are experts in flowers or vegetables and they work very closely with us.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to grow?
Carrots. Because I think carrots epitomize the difficulties of growing from seed. They have some bugs that affect them — particularly the carrot fly. Ironically, when you do that thinning process with loose seed, you loosen up the soil just enough for the carrot fly to get into the roots of the carrot. The carrots then have a problem later on. With our theory — with the lack of a need to do that thinning process — you’re not pulling the roots up and exposing them to that danger.
But I also simply enjoy them. Carrots are notoriously quirky things to grow. But most of all, I’m not that different from anyone else. If you like the taste of carrots, you’re gonna grow carrots.