Winter Seed Sowing

image As promised it’s time to write about ‘winter sowing.’ While you can garden somewhat in the winter by using a cold frame, winter sowing is more like getting an early start on spring gardening. It’s a way to feed your gardening appetite throughout the long winter. I started winter sowing about three years ago and have grown to love it! It appeals to me for several reasons. First, I’m not able to grow seedlings indoors and I didn’t want to use bunches of electricity trying to grow seedlings under growing lamps. Secondly, buying plants from a greenhouse can get expensive and there usually isn’t much of a selection to choose from. Thirdly, I love being able to get outdoors even if it is cold.

Here’s how I do winter sowing. I collect empty milk jugs from family and friends, cut them in half horizontally and poke holes in the bottom with an icepick (the lid can be thrown away). Then I fill them with potting soil to about an inch of where I cut the jug. After planting the seeds in the soil I water it and then tape the top lid to the bottom one to form a miniature greenhouse. I write the name of the seeds on the taped part of the jug and put the finished jug outside. Every few days I go outside to check on the seedlings and water them. The jugs can be rained on, snowed on and for the most part left alone. Then sometime in the late winter the seedlings will start to grow. The beauty of this method is that seedlings grown this way are often much hardier and less prone to disease than seeds grown indoors. Plus, it’s loads of fun!

For complete instructions on winter sowing visit Trudi Davidoff’s website, Wintersown.org. She developed the method and has a ton of information for you. She’s put together a very informative and fun website. You can even send her a self-addressed stamped envelope and she will send you free seeds to get started.

While buying seeds cost less than buying greenhouse plants, seeds can still get expensive. Seed trading is a way to pay less for seeds and still get a large variety. The trick is not to go overboard. Many people (including myself) get so excited about all of the many varieties available that we tend to sow too many and once they sprout are overwhelmed with seedlings! This isn’t always a bad problem however as you can share them with neighbors and friends. See my article on ”Seed Collecting and Trading” to get started!

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