This is my first year trying this so let’s take the journey together, shall we?
I have seen this done before. I have read lots of success stories… but for some reason have just never tried. It seems unbelievable, doesn’t it? Here, it is VERY cold nights in February, March. Like near or below zero cold. And people are starting their gardens. Outside! But seeds do what they were meant to do – withstand and survive.
Here we go…
You can start many of your perennials and some vegetables outside. Now. In March. In the snow and cold.
I am starting this very late. I had planned on doing it in early February, but life got in the way. Many start as early as just after the Winter Solstice. I don’t know if the seventy degree weather forecasted for this week will have any ill effect on this outcome, but we shall see. (Obviously I wrote this some time ago. For sake of time and just finally getting this out I’m not bothering to change it.Ok, ok. I confess! I actually wrote this in January and already changed it once!)
Take a milk jug. Or a few. Or many.
Cut them about 4 inches from the bottom. You can cut all the way around or leave one side as a hinge. I am trying both to see which I prefer.
Poke drainage holes in the bottom. I used an old cheap carving fork to start the holes and a chop stick to make them wider.
Start from the inside so the plastic pushes out.
You could use a wood burner to melt smalls holes if you had one. Just be sure you get about 2 in all 4 sections of the bottom of the jug.
Fill with a good starter mixture and water thoroughly
Plant your seeds as directed
I confess (again), I used the cheap 20 cent seeds from Walmart for this experiment. I’m saving the more expensive organic seeds until I know I won’t botch this one.
Be sure to mark your jugs so know which is which
Place the top back on and tape it up. Be sure to leave the cover off
Now place it, them, in the sunniest place available
The jug acts as a mini green house and a bit of a terrarium. You don’t have to water them. The hole in the top allows for natural watering. And the closure helps keep the existing moisture in. It also helps keep everything warm enough to germinate. Keep an eye on them just in case though. You don’t want to let them dry out.
I’m really excited about this. I start seedlings every year inside, but there are always a problem or two. Or many. First, the dogs and cat love to eat them. And find them no matter where I hide them. And let’s face it, there are just so many places to store trays of seedlings. I do plan to start some in the basement this year with a grow light on a timer. But Mr. Kitty has a kitty door and free rein. We never know how it will go.
Second, there are always those days when things get so crazy that checking on and watering the seedlings, well, just doesn’t happen. Terrible. I know. But such is my life. Busy.
Third, if the precious seedlings finally make it to the point of hardening off, there is always that. Will they be forgotten on the deck through the cold early Spring night?
Next is the fact that those grown indoors chance that leggy, weak state that leave them less than healthy and vibrant. Often never making it to anything very productive.
This method is supposed to eliminate all of that. No watering. No grow lights. No hardening off. Just plant, place and wait. When the seedlings start to get too tall for the space or it’s safe to plant, generally after the May Full Moon, you simply open the jugs, separate the seedlings and plant them as you wish. WAHLAH! You have strong, healthy plants for MUCH less than purchasing them at the local nursery. And if you collect your own seeds in the Fall we are talking free! Free.
What plants are best for Winter Sowing?
Potatoes(not seed potatoes)
Joe Pye Weed
There are MANY more than this. Look for words like stratification, self sows, sow early, hardy, wildflower, weed.
I’ll be sure to update with pictures once things start growing.
Have you tried Winter Sowing?
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