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This is my first year at WS and I'm just getting my first sprouts and I'm already thinking what I will do differently; hopefully better in 2011. No liter bottles, only milk jugs. Seed lightly in each container. I will probably have a lot of HOS this year. Organize myself better so that the sowing process will go faster. Buy only fine point paint pens and buy more than one at a time. Number my containers, as I sow them. Only include # and common plant name and date sowned on outside of container but record all pertinent information on paper or computer spreadhseet, cut my plant id tages ahead of time like in the Fall so they'll be ready and I won't have to stop and cut them when sowing time comes. Don't try to do too many varities. Apply the KISS philosophy.(Keep it simple stupid!) and it should go faster. Make up a list of seeds wanted and stick just to that list. Order any seeds early so I can plan better what I want. Remembering that Rome wasn't built in a day and that goes for one's flowerbeds too! I'm sure I've omitted some important tips here; can always add to this later.
great list Pippi... we all learn something new each year as we do this... it does seem the first year we flounder a bit as we go along... but what fun it is to see the babies peeking up. i'm all for KISS. as easy as i can make it for myself, the better.
this past year i did make a list of what new seeds i wanted, and tried to keep the list small... but it doesnt always work that way.
Pippi, I concur that this is a great list! Everything you write about is so appropriate to Winersowing. This is my 4th year and I'm still finding out what I should have done!
This year I with I'd known about "buy more than 1 fine-point paint pen"!
The most difficult part for me is Keeping It Simple, Stupid!
Very nice list. Since this is my first year also, it makes me think about what I will do different next year. I especially like the idea of numbering the containers. I might even take it a bit further for myself and just put a number on the container since I record all the info in a spreadsheet anyways. It also better allows me to reuse my more practible and durable containers. Pippi, what does HOS mean?
I usually just use the number on the container... on the top portion and on the bottom portion -- as I usually cut off the tops later in the season.
HOS means -- Hunk of seedlings
many time your containers look like Chia-pets... jam packed with seedlings and it is just easier to plant the whole chunk, or divide say a milk jug into quarters ... then tearing each individual seedling... hence... Hunk of Seedlings.
Quoting: I especially like the idea of numbering the containers. I might even take it a bit further for myself and just put a number on the container since I record all the info in a spreadsheet anyways.
Rockgardener, I number my containers top and bottom, and I also tuck a white plastic plant marker (or plastic knife, or spoon--most anything works that you can write on) inside the jug with the number and plant name, "just in case." The marker I can reuse in the garden when I set out the seedlings. I coordinate this with a paper list, but I'm also making my first Excel WS spreadsheet this year. My, it looks official!
I have mine in an Excel spreadsheet by container number, name, color of plant, height, perennial/annual - that way I can sort it when it's time and know which containers go in the center and which are border containers. Will make it easier to plan the garden. Plus, it's really fun to sort and re-sort the list, lol!
I use a plastic spoon inside each one - I understand when you transplant them to the ground you can use it as a plant marker.
I like the list going here - I learned so much by reading the errors and successes here on DG. I have 170 jugs and three have seedlings so far - it's early here - woohooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I still can't believe this is going to work!
Again, being my first year at ws, I initially went with what seemed to be the most accepted methods. But what I learned most is there is no accepted methods, other than what works for yourself. As I like to experiment a lot, I've done a little of most everthing all of you has or is doing... except for the numbering of the containers, which I'm still trying to figure out how to incorporate in midstream. I just started putting the basic info on lollipop sticks which I picked up cheaply at a craft store (1000 for $4.00). And I love working with spreadsheets. There's hardly a gardening specific which I don't record. Been using spreadsheets ever since the late 80's, before Excel even came out. In fact I use Quattro Pro, a great spreadsheet app developed by the company I used to work for in Santa Cruz, CA (Borland). Anyway, so far I've got 4 out of about 160 varieties sprouting. Have to keep in mind, this is Z6a in mid March, where it's barely gone over 50o yet and sunny days have been rare. Next week should be an active week as it may reach the 60o mark.
tcs... Did I say lollipop sticks? I meant popsicle sticks (aka craftsticks). Either way, they're a desperate measure. I know they'll rot quickly. Initially I bought some plastic type tags, I think I paid over $3.00 for 50 of them and used them up in a week. But then I came across the popsicle sticks which only cost $4.00 for 1000 of them. Figure they'll get me through this season. Otherwise, I'm looking for a deal on bulk plascticware (great idea). But they too will degrade eventually, so I'm also considering other options like metal or stone. They just need to be cheap or something I can repurpose. Stones may be the way, as they're so abundant, even on my property. Besides, rockgardens is the general theme of both my landscaping and gardening.
My home wasn't affected by the floods, got a solid old craftsman bungalow, built in 1920, and on the highest point in my area of town. Everthing flows downhill 360o around my house. But half mile away is a major creek which overflowed and flooded the village center. A friend who lives near the creek has major flooding to her basement... which she rents out to a tenant. Also took me 3 hrs yesterday to make what otherwise is a 2 mile, 20 min round trip to find a way around the flooded area, to get my daughter to school. This morning I got a flat tire on the way back from her school because of a deep pot hole I didn't see. But it's sunny today, still a bit chilly, in the 40's, had a hard frost last night, so the ground is frozen again But every thing is looking good for the rest of the week with sunny days and temps in the upper 50's to low 60's. Come on spring!!
Hanseycollie..can you post a picture of your WS spreadsheet for us to see? It's interesting to see how everyybody organizes their spreadsheets and what information they choose to include. I would imagine one could learn something from all of them and design theirs to meet the individual's needs. I never thought about putting in hgt. of plant. Good idea. I have a flyer here somewhere that I got from a local nursery years ago that list perennials in color categories. Includes Botanical name as well as common name, and also list light requirements(Shade, part sun or full sun). It was put out by a local hardware/craft store that is no longer in business. I also made a copy of a page from a library book that list flowers by heights, which I've had for year. Bet if you did a search on the internet, you'd come up with something similar.
Hey Pippi... good idea, why don't we start a new thread with that topic. There's lots of computer savy gardeners out there and everyone has potentionally something to contribute, where even the saviest can learn from a beginner.
Pasting info like this loses its formatting by cutting and pasting it in, but you can see I have the basic info included:
Container number, date sown, plant name, height, color, sun/shade, perennial/annual, and the last will be date strouted.
70 3/14/2010 Delfinium 3.0 feet Purples Sun/partial shade P
71 3/14/2010 Delfinium 3.0 feet Purples Sun/partial shade P
72 3/14/2010 Lupine 3.0 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
73 3/14/2010 Lupine 3.0 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
74 3/14/2010 Lupine 3.0 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
75 3/14/2010 Lupine 3.0 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
76 3/14/2010 Ornamental Grass 1.0 foot Green Sun/partial shade P
77 3/14/2010 Columbine 2.5 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
78 3/14/2010 Columbine 2.5 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
79 3/14/2010 Columbine 2.5 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
80 3/14/2010 Columbine blue star 2.0 feet Purple/white Sun/partial shade P
81 3/14/2010 Columbine McKanas 2.5 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
82 3/14/2010 Columbine Harlequin 3.0 feet Mixed Sun/partial shade P
83 3/14/2010 Tritona (Red Hot Poker) 3.5 feet Red/Yellow Sun P
84 3/14/2010 Daisy, English 0.5 foot Mixed Sun/partial shade P
85 3/14/2010 Chinese Lantern 2.0 feet Red/Purple Sun P
86 3/14/2010 Echin White Swan 2.0 feet White Sun P
I used to do just numbers which was all linked to a spreadsheet but I see NOW that my fatal flaw was waiting to do it all as I sowed the seed which meant I was all dirty and wet, didn't want to touch the computer so I'd make garbled notes. I see now I should have done the bookkeeping first!! Doh!!!!
Hanseycollie(Cynthia) Thanks for that information. I like the way you use the common name for the plant which I think is what people know a plant/flower by; not the botanical name. (IMHO) I'll show my son's friend what I want to accomplish and have him to set a spreadsheet up for me. He's computer savy, just 50 miles away. Even if he sets it up. it may not be accurrate this year but it'll be there for 2011 to me to use.
Rockgardener...great idea for having a thread about this subject..Would you like to start it? I'm sure a lot of others will reply.
Pippi21... funny thing is, right after I made my post above, I thought, what a task it would be to display my spreadsheets. Not only because I don't just have A spreadsheeet, I have multiple, as in lots and lots. And many are huge, where I would have to take mutiple screen shoots to show all the fields. I know I take it overboard... I'm a fanatic about stats and trends. My work the company that developed Quattro Pro (better then Excel IMHO) was in SPC (Statistical Process Control) which required using spreadsheets to keep track of a ton of numeric data. So in a way, for me, it's as much of a hobby keeping spreadsheets as gardening itself. Anyway, if you insist, I might just start that thread anyway.
I keep a simple master sheet which is sorted by botanical name first, and common name second. Then I have individual spreadsheets with extensive data, in different plant groups, ie wildflowers, bulbs, trees, etc, which are sorted by common name first and botanical name second. So if I have a common name and want the botanical name I can look it up very easily, and vice versa. You must all think I'm crazy... actually it's OCD (like gardening). :)
But I bet you don't do it with dirty, wet fingers or gardening gloves, eh? And you always SAVE! I learned Lotus when it was all the rage in 1986, so I thought I would be a lock for a great spreadsheet, but then I had kids, and got divorced, and got MS, and my brain fried...
sissy, that's great. I've had a few things germinate but am very concerned as the majority have not. I put all my jugs in my unheated greenhouse. Maybe I would have been better off if I left them outside.
carrie, hi neighbor... there's some interesting history between Lotus and Borland, because of Quattro Pro. In a nutshell, there was a major lawsuit by Lotus against Borland's QP because QP had an optional UI which imitated Lotus' 1 2 3 (besides the fact that QP was gaining on Lotus' leading share of the spreadsheet market). The lawsuit seriously drained the pockets of each company. Borland ultimately won, but had to sell QP to help pay for the legal expenses! Meanwhile MS took advantage of the battle and began Excel, which then became the standard. Ironically, while I worked for Borland during that time, my SIL worked for Lotus. When it was all over we both got laid off because of the financial woes the lawsuit created for both companies.
How about adding, "begin collecting and prepping milk jugs sooner!"
Also, keep the milk jugs taped shut, because opening them disrupts the "greenhouse" effect and causes the growth to be retarded (as in slowed down). I discovered this by accident when I compared jugs I opened to the same type/variety jugs that were never opened. There was a marked difference in the growth rates between the two jugs!
Gymgirl - you just answered a question I'd had but never could figure out - why some jugs grew faster than others - the ones I kept opening were slower!
This was my first year - next year I'll change:
1. I am collecting jugs now and storing them so I'll have them in the fall. Nothing except milk jugs. I am cutting mine all the way around and hinging on both sides so I can store them easier in the basement.
2. Less varieties of seeds - less containers.
3. Leave them in the containers longer before transplanting them.
4. Stick with plastic knives or spoons inside the jugs - they are great markers when you do transplant something. The wooden sticks faded & rotted.
5. Forget the spreadsheet - too much work and I didn't even use it - I plan to write on the jugs / top and bottom / the plant name, color and height with a FAT marker. Might look ugly but it won't fade.
Since there is just my husband and I, we only buy milk or flavored tea in 1/2 gal. jugs. Last year I think I had 4 or 5 colored milk crates that I'd found/purchased from a thrift store for $1.91 each. They were all colors so I plan to buy some spray paint for plastics and have hubby to spray paint them the same color of our siding, so they won't stick out like sore thumbs in the flowerbed. We live in a gated, Sr. Citizens community and with certain rules, so have to hide the crates beside of shrubbery,etc. so they are not eye sores. There are some neighbors that would turn you. As I empty my 1/2 gal. I wash them out real good, using water with baking soda and stand them upside in dish rack to drain. I have been taking a dryer sheet and sticking it down inside to absorb any possible odor. Some I have even put the top back on, and then I am storing them inside the milk crates in the garage. I forgot how many I can fit into each crate. I like the idea of preparing the jugs ahead of time(drilling holes for air circulation and also drainage holes. One could number the outside with a marker so that will all be done. When I fill up all of the milk crates I have, that will be all I'm doing in 2011. I plan to make my list of most wanted seeds and order by end of year. Only plant what I really want to see in my flowerbeds. Sow light handed so I don't end up with lot of HOS.
Do as much as I can ahead of time to speed up the process. Buy PROMIX for WS. I have found a souce close by at a well known nursery. Find out ahead of time when they will have it available. Usually the garden centers and nurseries use their garden centers for Holiday plants and gifts until mid January, then they clear that out and start thinking Spring and gardening. Learn to use a spreadsheet and record my WS information there. I have my mini-blind plant markers all cut but can cut more if needed. Last year I was able to buy a brand new mini-blind for only $3 that made a lot of plant markers! Same place I bought the milk crates for $1.91.
Linda, I am amazed you can WS in Houston - I lived off FM 1960 by the big airport for many years and remember the azaleas blooming in January, lol. We're now in Missouri with a longer winter season and hope to move back to Minnesota one day. Thanks for posting that about opening the containers - my light bulb went off when I read it, like "Duhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Haaaa! Cynthia
After WS this year, I got the FATTEST tomato seedlings I ever had before! What I learned (that I think beefed them up) was this:
I had two identical sets of seedlings potted up to 16 oz. Red Solo cups. One set was outside in a Sterilite tub deep enough to completely surround the cups and protect them from the blowing, chill wind. It was cold out, around 50-55 degrees average daytime temps. The second set of seedlings were set outside in a Sterilite tub that explosed the top half of the seedlings to the blowing wind. Same temperature.
Both sets of seedlings were bottom watered, and the lids were removed during the daytime. Only the tallest container could be covered when temps dipped into the 40s at night.
I thought the seedlings exposed to the blowing wind would be beefier, but this was NOT the case. The protected seedlings grew so beefy I almost brought them to HD and Lowe's to show how I actually outgrew what they had on the shelves for sale! It was totally empowering!
So. Add one more TALL Sterilite container to my WS list! The tall container held about twenty 16 oz. cups.
How is it possible ... maybe it's because they're annuals and all the dogma about winter sowing is meant to apply to perennials? I mean it flies in the face of what we're told about "stronger and sturdier than greenhouse grown" - doesn't it?
GG, thank you so much for the input. I will definitely try the cups in the tub next year. So much better than the milk cartons which really like to hold on to their little plants when it is transplanting time.
Just a further note of clarification on my tomato seedling experience.
I started all my seeds in the one-gallon milk jugs the weekends of Jan 9 and 16th, where they stayed outside until they were approx. 4" tall. THEN, I transplanted them to the individual 16 oz. Red solo cups. I planted them DEEP, all the way down to the bottoms of the cups, adding potting mix as they grew taller until the cups were filled. They grew in the cups until they were approx. 8-10" tall in the cups (and the wind started blowing them over). It was at this point that I sat the cups into the two Sterilite tubs where they stayed until my plant out date in late Feb-early March. By then, they were approximately 12-15" tall transplants.
The seedlings in the tallest tub grew really beefy. The air temp outside was averaging 45-50 degrees daily and the wind was blustery. The ones getting whipped by the wind took much longer to get stocky...
Thanks for the clarification, GG. I'm still thinking I might try the cups from the beginning. It would make watering from the bottom so much easier (and also maybe keep my quantity of seeds planted at a more manageable level.)
You still will have to pot up at least once on the tomato seedlings. I had no problem at all watering the milk jugs. I just put the hose on "shower" and aimed at all the jugs. There were enough holes in the shoulder of the jugs, they all got adequate moisture.
I really recommend going on the jugs first, then potting up to the cups.
Mostly because they would be easy to haul around in the large bucket and watered quickly from the bottom. I know you have to repot tomatoes a few times before putting into the garden and to bury their stems for good root growth.
I don't drink milk so we resorted to smaller juice and liter bottles which were difficult to get the seedlings out of. In addition we have a year old pup who really enjoys playing with plastic so keeping them out of her range is difficult.
Gymgirl...Besides milk jugs, liter soda bottles, I also tried some like you did in the same color cold drink cups plus styrofoam coffee cups. Those were placed inside a deep, Clear Sterlite storage box, with air holes punched in lid and in bottom, and in the bottom of the cups themselves. They did fine, buried under the 55 in. of snow we had, but when the snow started melting, the back yard was so muddy, you couldn't go out without sliding in it. I couldn't check and when I saw they were too dry, I watered but they never grew anymore. So that's why I'm doing nothing but milk jugs in 2011. Not even liter soda bottles, which I found too hard to get the seedling out of. Hey, maybe had the back yard not been so muddy, they would have been fine. I'm only going to sow 36 jugs this year and that's it. I don't have room for much more when all the perennials I sowed last year go through the winter(fine I hope). I plan to start numbering my jugs in the Fall, as well as preparing my air holes around the neck of jug and bottom drainage holes. That much will be done ahead of time. If I see potting mix on sale, I will buy that if available.
I'll record my success as well as my failures. If I only have 36 to take care of, I won't feel overwhelmed.
Thanks for the feedback. I started all my tomato seedlings in the milk jugs and then potted up to the 16 oz cups. I planted them deep, only halfway into the cups, and added mix as they grew taller. When they grew taller in the cups they kept blowing over so I sat them all into the Sterilite tubs. That's when they really took off and got fat in the tub that was taller than the seedlings in the cups.
Here's what they looked like just before I sat the cups in the tubs.
Merrymath, wintersowing is a lot of fun, and sharing your experiences is part of it. We all look forward to hearing how it's going. Only a few more months till it gets cold enough to start!
Are you saving those milk jugs? ;-)
I've been winter sowing for at least six years. This has been a very trying growing season this year. We had three weeks of no rain. A week of over one hundred degree temperatures. Some things fried because I didn't get them planted fast enough. I had some jugs with no germination so I sat them aside. The other evening I decided to empty them into my wheelbarrow. My clay soil needs all the help it can get. I found a live plant or two in a few of them. I couldn't believe what I found in jug I had planted blackberry lily seeds. Never give up. lol.
Quoting:Now about how many of those jugs would you suggest is sufficient? I don't want to be too greedy.
And when does one in my hardiness zone actually start WS and for what.
Oh Merrymath, there are NEVER enough jugs/containers if you become truly obsessed with wintersowing. It depends on how many different plants you want to sow with this method. Most of us go overboard and plant more than we ever imagined we would, because it's so fun and gives us something to anticipate during those cooold months of winter and early spring. I pretty much choose some plants I want to wintersow and allot one gallon jug for each type of seeds, except when I spread them out into TWO jugs, or more 'cause I have LOTS of seeds. . . and so it goes. This last winter I planted about 80 jugs of various sizes. . . it's easy to go overboard.
We don't drink a lot of milk in our household either, but I find so many jugs at the recycling center that I can't believe it.
As to when you start wintersowing in your hardiness zone. . . which is not that different from mine (7a). . . t only sort of matters. I sow my WS containers in February and March. Others do it earlier. Some folks swear by the winter solstice. Check out the requirements for the seeds you are sowing. Those hardy perennials that like a good long period of stratification can go in early in the new year. Those half-hardy perennials or annuals go in later in the early spring, when they won't be subjected to prolonged periods of alternating freezes and thaws.
Here I am talking like I'm an expert, and I'm not. A lot of info can be found on the Wintersowing threads. What I like about wintersowing is that it's not an exact science, and every year is a rewarding experiment.
I started WS for the first time last year, and it was so successful. However, what I was even more excited about was doing a later WS planting of annuals. It saved me all of that space that I would have needed under grow lights. Can't wait to try this again this year--starting to formulate my plans on what to WS early and later (annuals).
I started with about 24 jugs last year. 12 were WS plants and 12 were later-sown annuals. Almost all did really well. Had a few failures, but I think it was due to the poor seed source more than any other factor. This year, I will use more 1/2 gallon jugs, as I don't need lots of any one plant in my small space. I've also started saving jugs early this year. I used a Sharpie on the outside of my jugs (generally just wrote on the duct tape closing the jugs), and put a plastic plant label (also with Sharpie) inside each jug. The writing never faded, so had no problems identifying plants.
I also really like that it is a pleasant garden task while nothing else can be done in our zone. How rewarding to plant seeds in milk jugs in January when its below freezing and a foot of snow on the ground. Gives me my gardening "fix" to get me through till it's time to start seeds indoors.
Capecod ... the reviewing of old threads can drive a person loco ... seems like a chit chat gets going and conversations often go off topic. I have done some reviewing of WS past threads to realize my best bet is to start here.
I want to be well prepared when the time comes to WS ... I realize I will probably make mistakes ... hopefully not too many because I will be relying on input from other WS gardners.
All mistakes are learning opportunities.
I shall probably be asking a lot of questions... all input is welcome ... esp off the wall suggestions.
Question ... when is the best time to purchase the potting soil I will need?
Merry--I don't think there is a right or wrong time to buy potting soil (you might want to consider a soilless potting "mix" though for germinating seed). I would recommend purchasing when it is readily available.
In our zone, potting mixes and soils are kept outdoors in garden centers, so if we purchase it in January for WS, it is a frozen-solid block. I like to purchase mine in advance (in Sept./Oct.) and store it where it won't freeze and will be ready for my WS.
Soilless potting mix is a much lighter/looser texture than potting soil. If you read the content of a bag of seed starting mix or soilless potting mix, you will note that it contains only things like peat, bark fines, vermiculate, pearlite. There is no soil or dirt in it. Because it is a much lighter texture, it allows for much better root growth of new seedlings. Things like top soil tend to be way to heavy/dense for seed starting. You also want good drainage and good aeration for good root growth.
If you want to learn a lot more about soil texture, look for some threads by a very knowledgable member who goes by the screen name of Tapla. (I think there is a lot of good information in the Container gardening forum).
Keep asking questions--it's the only way to learn.
I know we tend to chatter [get off course] in some threads... a few yrs ago, a few of us went thru yrs of threads and created the Sticky up top. there are a lot of great links and information in there... we weeded a lot of the chatter out of the "Lessons Learned" threads.
when you have a lot of free time this winter... give it a read.
years of great information.
I'm thinking this will be my 5th year.
and no question is a dumb question... we all were new at this once.
Oh I definitly like Terese ... mainly because she included her name at the end ... an excellent way to get more comfortable with you.
I think it might be a good idea to create my own potting mix ... I found 3 recipes ... which or what other one would you recommend
here are the 3 recipes
Basic Soilless Potting Mix
4-6 parts Sphagnum Peat Moss
1 part Perlite
1 part Vermiculite
Basic Mix with Compost
2 parts Compost
2-4 parts Sphagnum Peat Moss
1 part Perlite
1 part Vermiculite
Basic Mix with the Addition of Nutrients
Add ½ cup each per every 8 gallons of mix:
½ cup Bone Meal(Phosphorous)
½ cup Dolomitic Limestone (Raises soil pH and provides calcium and magnesium)
½ cup Blood Meal or Soybean Meal or Dried Kelp Powder (Nitrogen)
Mary, like other winter-sowers, I purchase my soiless potting mix in big bags, when it's on sale and definitely before the bags get frozen (something to think about if you store your potting mix ahead of time. Once in my innocence I left a giant bag inside my garage against an outside wall and it froze! Had to buy another smaller and more expensive bag that had been kept inside at Agways!)
In my case, I just purchase a good-quality potting mix: Fafard, MiracleGro, etc., (Memo to Self: start watching for sales) and I add a bit of slow-release Ozmacote-type fert if the mix doesn't already have it. Some folks add moisture-retaining granules as well at this time. I'm not really sure if any of these additions make much difference but I add the fert just in case! How's that for a scientific reason?
Therese is right; the "stickies" at the top of the WS forum are a great source of info. But we all love to discuss this subject, so feel free to ask as many questions as you wish!
I've been been enjoying this particular "winter sport" for four seasons, and my results have always surprised me--successes always outweigh the occasional "refuses to germinate" seed. Failures can usually be attributed to my using older seed, which I just try anyway because WS is cheap and easy!
Hi Mary--those high summer gardening tips were fun and interesting!
I don't know about mixing spagnum moss and regular potting "soil" (do you mean potting MIX which is soiless and safer to use when seed starting IMHO? --although a case could be made that Mother Nature starts ALL her seeds in plain old dirt!). I'll bet there are some more expert folks who might have an opinion. For me, a good, high-quality potting mix seems to have the best balance of lightness and moisture-retention.
Why didn't I do the logical money-saving thing and thaw my giant bag in the basement? Two answers: impatience and laziness! Well, that and a bad back! ;-) These traits that've gotten me into trouble in the garden more than once!
Anyway, keep those WS thoughts coming! And I'm assuming that you are familiar with the wintersown.org website, which has a wealth of information as well.
OK, y'all, let me hear your opinions- I will be a first time WS'r this year- been reading all about it and collecting milk jugs. I plan to do tomatoes and peppers for sure. But what about cabbage and bok choi- they seem pretty easy to direct sow early in spring- would I benefit by WS? I plan to get a big sterilite (I think it's 110 qt-or maybe 110 gallon?) and put my filled milk jugs in- Does it just stay covered out in the winter sun and cold? I am really excited to do this. I have a small garden area, so won't need hugs amounts. Oh, and I am going to but ProMix #1 at my local nursery. It's pricey- $54 for a 3.3cu ft compressed bale, but it will do a lot of growing. I'd appreciate all of your inputs-- Thanks-Jo
Jo, if you're doing milk jugs, you don't need to put them into a Sterilite container. The seeds will germinate inside the covered milk jugs (the split on three sides forms a lid...). If you're DSing into the Sterilite, that's another story. And, you could just drill holes in the bottom and the lid of the sterilite container, dump your Promix #1 and sprinkle your seeds -- no need for jugs then, either...
You'd have a HUGE seed tray with that 110 qt. container!
I purchased some deep wooden drawers (7"-10") for $1/ea at a garage sale. I'm going to drill holes in the bottoms, fill 'em with seed starting mix, and use them as WS seed trays...I'll probably stretch some plastic wrap over them, or put them inside some clear plastic bags for the "hot house" effect.
Jo: The milk jugs will just get covered with snow or whatever--that's how they stay watered, too. You don't need to cover them with anything else.
I will respectfully disagree with Gymgirl on one point--I found that it was helpful to put my jugs inside of a cardboard box, simply so they stayed in one place and didn't blow around during the winter. I know someone in our area who lost most of her wintersown plants when a big windgust tossed them about late in the season. I plan on keeping my jugs somewhat contained if at all possible to avoid this problem. However, the thought of using one big container to WS as a giant seedtray is intriguing. Will look forward to hearing results from someone that tries it.
Not sure about the cabbage or bok choy-- you might just get a jump on the season and sow them in very early spring. Don't know if the entire winter session is needed for these, but perhaps someone with more experience will weigh in. Last year was my first year WS, but now I"m hooked! Got my next door neighbor started, too.
Keep the posts coming- they are really interesting. I may get one big flat container(like the underbed ones) and try it along with milk jugs.Once winter sets in here in the PNW it seems to go on forever!
That's one of the things I love about WS, Jo. When I'm getting stircrazy in early January, I can play in the dirt and plant some WS jugs. And they miraculously sprout!!! Even after being buried under a foot of snow/ice! It's just too amazing. Do you get much snow in your area?
Be sure you mark your containers both inside and out with a good waterproof marker. I used a sharpie to write on the outside of my jugs (although I wrote on the duct tape that sealed them closed, in case I wanted to recycle any jugs). I also stuck a plastic label written in sharpie inside each jug as an extra precaution.
The one thing I did learn from last year is to not transplant my seedlings too early. We had a really warm spell in April (a month before our last frost date). Everything I planted out that early died from lack of water/excessive heat that early. I need to wait until I have my hoses out and water turned on to water outdoors. In retrospect, it would have been easier to keep them in their vented "greenhouses" and water everything in one spot with a watering can.
Jo--check out http://www.wintersown.org for more information. They also have seeds available (awesome selection of tomato seeds for a small donation).
Jo ~ $54.00!! Wow! I bought a 2.2 cu' of peat and a 2 cu' of vermiculite for a lot less money. Last year I went through all of that and more, after finishing the smaller bags of seed-starting mix from Lowe's, but did not use milk jugs. I just used the old plastic blueberry and strawberry containers and wrapped them in the grocery produce bags until my seeds germinated. I put these all on shelves on the back porch outside in the cold as well as used some indoors as well. They worked pretty well for my first time WS'ing. I will be doing that agian, unless DH finishes the potting shed with the coldframes...then who knows? I had better get my mess off the back porch...that is the deal anyway. Still, I will start a few things indoors as well for winter entertainment value. Some will be downstairs in the basement under lights and some in my room...(always a mess somewhere...)
I think it was Gymgirl who talked about putting her milk jugs in big plastic containers. I also think she said I didn't really need to do that if I have a good place for the jugs. Please tell me if the 2 shelving units I will show you would be good. They will be in a West exposure and pretty sheltered. I plan to have around a dozen jugs.
JoParrott, I think they'll work as long as your jugs don't fall off or get blown off by the winter wind, snow, and/or storms. In my area on the Cape, I'd want to secure the shelves against the outside wall, and affix the jugs somehow onto the shelving itself--even though I keep them in a fenced area. You mention that your shelving will be in a sheltered spot, so maybe this isn't a concern for you.
Both of the shelf units are attached to a wall, and I can put some straps around the jugs. Will it be a problem that some of the jugs will be against a wall and have no light source on that side? They will all get light from above.I am excited to start this project- I never can wait for spring!
Well, for the first several weeks of winter the seeds will be simply resting in the jugs and waiting for spring temperatures to warm them up! They won't miss the light on one side. After they sprout, I think I'd want to turn them occasionally as the seedlings grow IF you leave them in their jugs for a while--which I usually do while waiting for the ground to warm up. This isn't generally until after June 1 in my climate and my seedlings are getting relatively tall (1-2 in.) by then. Plus, no matter how good my intentions are, it always takes me several weeks to get everything planted out! Many folks are able to plant their seedlings earlier in the spring while they're still quite small and wouldn't be so affected by only getting light on one side.
We are not milk drinkers, but do get a few distilled water bottles I've saved. I've also been nabbing my mom's milk jugs out of the recycling bin. I think I've got about 8 gallon jugs and maybe a dozen 1/2 gallon jugs. I find the 1/2 gallon work fine for a lot of seeds for which I don't need tons of plants. I like to save the larger ones for my later annuals, which I do need quite a few of.
I haven't tried the half gallon jugs but have used a lot of two liters. It seems like the half gallon would be easier to cut. I, too, buy the distilled water for my plants. I would much rather spend $1 on the water jugs than to clean out the milk jugs. LoL Do you think you will WS as much as last/past years or more? I'm thinking it will be less but I'm already twitching to get started. LoL
I don't think I will do as many perennials (just running out of space), but I really liked starting my annuals outdoors rather than under lights. I started them around April 1, and they did beautifully. I will definitely do more of that!
Isn't it fun to be able to play in the dirt in January when everything is snowy, cold and gloomy? I do start lots of tender plants under grow lights, but I get these started even earlier. What a fun winter project. I'm definitely hooked on this.
Oh yes, Mom, I'm hooked as well. It's funny that some friends started seeds under lights inside and nursed them with little or no plants to show for all of their work. I started a gazillion jugs outside, everything that germinated lived. But when I was telling them about WSing they ALL looked at me as if I was nuts. Now that my gardens are in my friend wants to bring people over to show them my gardens. She couldn't see my vision until things began to sprout. LoL
you and I are the same zone, i think i do mine March/April.
They will not be blooming in June -- but the ones i've always done, have done well.
Only tried Petunias once, no germination.
I usually do Marigolds, Zinnias, Cosmos and a few others.
they will keel over if they germinate then you get a freeze again. my first year WS'ing, i did annuals the same time as perennials -- we had a warm February and i had a lot of annuals germinate ... some died, and some I dragged into the house or garage and some i just covered out on the front porch. The ones that were protected did great.
Have been lurking and pretty quiet recently but just read thru this 'Wintersowing' thread. I agree that reading thru the Sticky threads at the Forum top will clear up lots of questions and save a lot of grief.
A couple of thoughts on changes I've made (after six years of WSing in zone 6a Ohio climate):
Just wanted to agree with tcs about the annuals and tomatoes too: I DON'T sow them too early. Had to learn the hard way that seeds generally won't germinate until soil and ambient temps get to a certain warmth (around 70 degrees usually) and if the seeds are just sitting there in the cold containers there's a good chance the seed will rot. Or they will germinate early and then a freeze will kill the seedlings off.
One point about the steel shelving and wintersowing~~part of the charm of wintersowing for me is relying on Mother Nature's spring rains to do the watering of the jugs . If milk jugs are stacked up on shelves I wonder how much rain will get to them? Same issue with keeping seeds on the covered porch.
About the 'cold frames': I like cold frames, too, but generally most WS ing purists don't consider using them 'wintersowing', in the sense used on this thread, because they don't typically allow for Mother Nature to provide the moisture (unless you poke holes in the roof/top). They are another great way to start seeds and plants though and I love 'em. There could be a whole other forum discussing Cold Frames and Cloches and other ways to lengthen the growing season. The Propagation Forum has some good threads on building and using coldframes too. I found out a lot of good stuff about how to start difficult seeds on the Propagation Forum too.
About 'direct sowing' into the garden kale, cabbage and cool season crops: The seed packets often instruct them to be sown this way but WSers often like to do them in containers to protect the seeds and seedlings from the rabbits and other critters. Likewise WSing solves protection issues for zinnias and sunflowers and other seeds often times instructed to be 'direct sown' into the garden according to the seed packets.
Use of the 'big flat underbed' plastic containers: I have filled them with planting mix and sowed the seeds straight into them in the past and they are fine if you can keep your various seed varieties within them ID-ed thru the winter and spring but the depth is rather shallow for when the seedlings pop up and you still want them to be lidded for some protection. I also ran into issues because come spring time certain seeds were germinated and tall seedlings ready to plant out and others hadn't germinated yet so I the un-germinated seeds were left in the large (mostly empty) container. Got to be a little messy. So then I switched to planting in plastic cups and keeping them in the plastic containers and that worked a little better but tried to stick with the deeper Sterlite containers (available from Big Lots and Home Depot).
Reading thru the thread it occurred to me that a lot of Wintersowing success depends on how Mother Nature behaves in your garden. WSing in Houston is not at all the same as WSing in Cincinnati so adjustments need to be made for winds, rain, bright sun, growing seasons, etc. It took me a few years to get the WSing intricacies of my particular location down.
I love wintersowing too~~what a relief to have most of the seed starting outside~~and one winter I didn't do it and I sorely missed the fun of trying to grow rare and fussy seeds and getting darn good results and joining in the chat on this forum. Like others, I highly recommend trying it!
I'd love to read more tips and tricks from others here. Always something new to learn about seed sowing...t.
Pic of seedlings in Sterlite Containers from Big Lots:
thank you ladies for doing a much better job at explaining the whole thing ,Ive learned as well thank you again.you are so right about mother nature!!! Iam going to do a bit of wsing this spring outside !!! I love setting up my lights too !!! Iam glad you mentioned soil temps,didnt know the 70 ,ahh good info..=} Tamara
This will be my third year Winter Sowing and I have varying success the last two years. I have sown annuals, perennial & veg's in milk jugs and various other recycled containers.
I've decided 3 things for next year: 1). I'm going to try to only use the sturdy, square-ish 1/2 gallon jugs that my cranberry juice comes in because I can cut them open on three sides and they will still stay closed by themselves (no hassling with tape, or slots, or twisty ties).
2). I will continue to put my containers in my old laundry baskets with the holes drilled in the bottoms. This works so well because it's easy to move everything if I need to, the jugs stay closed and they won't blow away.
3). I'm only going to do veg's & annuals, and not too many. I was so lazy this year never got around to planting some of my WS perennials (still plan to though, probably, maybe).
When to sow is still a little tricky for me, but probably sometime in late February / early March.
Tabasco, your lurking is fine ... but please jump in from time to time to offer advice ... we want to learn from your exoeriences.
I will be a first timer at winter sowing ... and I have begun preparing ... my grandson is not so thrilled with all the winter sowing materials now resting in my detached 2 car garage ... He is 21 and lives with me.
I should have enough pine bark mulch, peat moss, perlite, and osmocote to mix all the potting medium I will need.
I have been raiding neighbors recycling bins for planting jugs ... purchased 1/2 dozen sterlite containers from Big Lots ... and harvesting seeds.
Major question is when is the best time to do the winter sowing for different seeds?
I would be most grateful for your input and suggestions.
Mary -- from what i've read, you can start at "winter solstice" but who has time with the Holidays?? so most of us do this in the dead of winter, when there is nothing else to do.
I've started as early as Mid-Jan to Mid-Feb.
The year I did not start until early March --- many seeds did not do too well.
You can start annuals when you're pretty sure you wont have a 'hard frost' again.
I think last year i did my annuals at the end of March. though you are in a warmer zone than I am.
But getting 'rolling' in Jan/Feb is a good time frame.
Keep one thing in mind... Don't make this more difficult than it needs to be. It's really a simple process. The first year, you get all worried about timing, soil, wetness, how much sun [too muc, too little] ... try not to fret over too many details.
when you look at "mother nature" ... seeds fall off the plants in the Fall, sit on the ground, maybe get covered a bit... go thru a 'frozen winter' and germinate when the soil heats up enough. We're pretty much doing the same thing... but we put the seeds in a 'container' so the birds cant eat the seeds, heavy rains/melting snow can't wash them away, or blown away in high winds... put them in your contain with about 4" of potting mixture [wet material, before or after adding seeds] seal container, put outside. Start peeking for germination once the 'weather breaks'.
In a quick nutshell, I BELIEVE a hard freeze usually means dipping down below 30 degrees for a SUSTAINED PERIOD OF TIME. Which means anything in its wake will freeze harder than an ice cube.
Light freeze, means it can dip for a very short period of time (a coupla hours or so) below freezing, but still have time for the sun to help with thawing, so whatever gets hit won't necessarily freeze hard as a rock.
I've kept cabbages, broccoli & greens out in a light freeze with sheets thrown over them, and they were fine, because of the short timeframe. I watered all of them beforehand, cause it takes longer for water to freeze.
I'm sure others will jump in and correct any inaccuracies I've posted here. Feel free!
I also find... a 'light frost' may just wild my annuals, and a "hard frost" or killing frost, will do just that; kill the plants. Impatiens for instance will turn to mush with a hard frost, where a light frost will make them look really sad and wilty.
we have had light frosts within our Park, up here is south-central Wisc ... open areas had light coating - but in the interior of the Park, where I am, we were not effected yet.
OH -- hard frost kills mosquitoes -- as i sit in the yard being buzzed by the dang things.
I am not considering doing any winter sowing soon ... the earliest would probably be the middle of January.
I just want to acquire the bulk of my winter sowing needs while the weather is nice and the getting is good.
I am quite pleased that I took advantage of purchasing the pine bark mulch when I did ... 2 cubic ft bags at 5 bags/$10.00 at my favorite local garden center ... they are now sold out and will not replenish until spring.
Quoting:Major question is when is the best time to do the winter sowing for different seeds?
I would be most grateful for your input and suggestions.
Mary, that's what we all wonder about, especially as beginners! I've learned a lot from Jill (Critterologist) an experienced WS-er who has described how she "staggers" her WS seed planting in the following useful article: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/585/
Quoting:February is a good time to start winter sowing around here. The usual January thaw has come and gone, and with luck the more tender seeds won't sprout until after the late spring freezes. Following experienced winter sower Illoquin's advice, I start with tree and shrub seeds and with perennials hardy enough to reseed in my zone. Hardy annuals and other perennials will follow, and by March I'll be sowing half-hardy annuals.
This is pretty much the schedule I follow, too. Really warmth-loving tender annuals like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants I don't WS until late April. (Our average day of latest frost here on the Cape is May 25.) I have also been known to fling a blanket over my WS jugs if a late frost threatens my seedlings. Works fine.
The fun of WS is that many seeds are relatively flexible and there's some leeway in when to plant what. My records from the past three years show that I've planted marigolds as early as mid-Feb. and as late as mid-April, and had seedlings to plant out each time.
I've never had much success starting tomatoes and the like from seed indoors (I don't really have space for the light setup I would need, and my plants were always puny). Outdoors they get all the light they need naturally, even if it's cold. And as far as the seeds of those tender plants being out there early - they just aren't going to germinate when it's too cold.
An example: I have a huge, loaded tomatillo plant in my garden right now that I didn't plant. It sowed itself from a seed dropped by last year's tomatillo plant. The seed (and actually there were more that came up that I didn't keep) sat out in the cold all winter & sprouted when it was ready. That's nature's automatic "winter sowing", and all we are doing is just getting some control over that process.
So although I bought my plants late this Spring, and wasn't able to find a tomatillo plant, I have all the tomatillos I want now. Next year I will Winter Sow them on purpose.
I could have enough seedlings for my entire growing season from just one tray! And then do all the tomato seedlings in another, taller one for my co-workers and BFFs. And do all the flower seedlings in another. I love that each seedling would be in it's own individual tube. So much easier than the Chia Pet, and more attractive than my beloved Starbuck's milk jugs!
I'd modify a tomato tray by using a 3" diam. pipe, cut between 4-6" tall. I'd plant the seedlings deep and add more potting mix as it grew up for a deep root system. I've learned that tomatoes do well when their roots fill the starter pot, so hopefully they'd have extended systems by the time I push them through and pot up ONCE, directly into the garden.
OH NO !!!!! All we need is a new idea! Now what to do with all the milk jugs I have collected-- :-) The pvc sounds so good- not all that different than toilet paper tubes, and they are biodegradable. The brain is whirring!
I guess you're right, Gymgirl- it's a cool thought, tho!
So, are you thinking of pvc in place of milk jugs, or will you test it first? Since I haven't even done WS yet, I get excited with every new idea! Maybe pvc inside milk jugs???
I was trying to come up with ideas to make things simpler. I don't know if it's possible. I don't have any tools for cutting pipe or wood. It's a test to get the milk jugs and two liters cut without injuring myself. I like the idea of planting by the chunk. If I want fewer plants I can plant in rows instead of sprinkling randomly. I think the PVC is an excellent idea but it would be more work for an individual with my mechanical abilities. LoL
Diamond--I've found kitchen shears work really well for cutting those milk jugs. I use a box cutter just to poke a hole through the plastic, then use the shears to cut all around. I don't trust myself with sharp knives that can easily slip, either (I've got the scars to prove it LOL).
Mary--I thought I read that someone on that linked thread was using 1.5" PVC. I would just be concerned that 3/4" might not allow for proper root growth over a period of time. But, if you have some hose to spare, it wouldn't cost anything to experiment. It would certainly be durable in holding up to the elements, which is a benefit.
I wonder what other creative ideas people will come up with to try?
Hope I didn't 'cause confusion by posting yet another WSing option. It Appealed to me because of how neat the one tray system is.
I'm moving, and my yard space will be 2/3 less than before, so I'm into space-saving, efficient ways to produce my harvest. As it is now, I will need to cut down 3 money trees, 2 Crepe Myrtles, 1 Sago Palm, and shoot the partridge in the pear tree if he even looks at my tomato plants!
Hey, Gymgirl--I think it's great we have lots of options to consider. Everyone can think about what will work best in their situation. It's fun to hear all of the different things people invent, devise, imagine...Hopefully, it will help us all be better gardeners.
Hope you'll post photos and share your results if you decide to try the PVC this year.
gymgirl,I liked the thread A LOT,Ive never winter sowed.I grow under lights.but Iam thinking Iam going to try it,and it will cut down on what I start indoors.Do you think I could use my flats ? or does the container need to be deeper ? I have lots of flats,and cells..The pvc idea is really cool,boy I dont need more potting stuff !!!!
I think you could use your existing flats, long as your pvc tubes are wedged in so they don't/can't fall over. I bought several old deep wooden drawers at a garage sale for $1 apiece, intending on turning them into flats. Now I'm gonna drill drainage holes and retrofit them with the PVC tubes. It's the plant individuality that so appeals to me.
Since you can control the root depth by the length of the tube, the transport vessel really only needs to be sturdy enough for transporting, have good drainage, and keep the starting mix from washing out..
My plan for my tomatoes is to start
In a tall 6-8" tube and add soil as the seedling grows taller so it'll root all along the buried stem. By the time it grows to 10" it'll have an 8" rootball at plantout.
linda ,I guess what I meant to say was ,using flats with out the pvc tubes instead of say milk jugs for ws.But the tubes are a great Idea for tomatoes,I just dont need anymore stuff !!! Iam trying to use what I have on hand. do winter sowing vessels need to be deeper than the flats ? Boy it would be great to use them ,I have lots of flats !!!! Thanks Tamara
The flats are 3-31/2 inches deep,Iam going to try them.I will be using saved seed so If they dont survive Iam not out much.Iam looking forward to this !!! Oh I see now I need lids I get it now !!!! mini green house ok ok Ive got my thinking hat on straight now.Great link Thank you
I have questions for the people using the sterlite containers and styro cups, does your containers have "clear plastic" or transparent lids? The lids I have found are colored. none with the transparent lids. I know the plants may get some sunlight through the sides of the containers but just curious how important the transparency of the lid is.
Also, what did you use to mark the styro cups? Did permanent marker last through the season or did you have to use the paint pen?
For the styro cups, did you remove the bottoms or just poke holes? What did you use to pole holes in the sterilte containers?
These items might work best for me this year. I think the sterlite containers could be saved to use every year and would provide plenty of protection from the elements.
Has anyone tried using an eyeliner pencil,I found they work like a grease pencil and dont fade ,but can be annoying in heat they melt !!! I have used up many old liner pencils,wrong color or to short to use anymore.
Have your DH tape a couple sticks or rods to the corners of the flats and make a tent. Slip the whole flat into a clear plastic bag (a dry cleaner bag will do). The sticks should keep the tent from collapsing. Vent it with air holes for oxygen and to catch the rain. Put it in your yard where it will catch sun and rain.
Regarding the Sterilite tubs with the cups inside. I rarely used my lids! Only when the temps were dipping below freezing at night, or when it was going to rain so the seedlings wouldn't get pounded to death from big drops. Otherwise, it was the side WALLS of the container that provided protection from the blustery winds! I'm sure there was some thermal situation going on inside that tub with heat building up during the daytime. Since the lids weren't on during the day (as long as the temps were right), they got cool air too. My average daytime temps were between 50-45?, with nice sunshine.
I used a broad tip Sharpie marker on the cups. I used 16 oz. Red plastic Solo cups, not styro, although I know some people do use styro...
I used a pair of scissors to snip and twist slits in the bottoms of my 16 oz cups. They were pretty substantial size drainage slits in the bottoms.
I did NOT put any holes in my Sterilite tubs. I think I was rationalizing using them again for something else. Not having holes allowed me to bottom water the cups inside the tub. Also, I could catch some gentle rain when I wanted to. I generally put the lid on during a hard rain to keep it from pounding the seedlings. After they grew larger (around 8-10") and were drinking a lot, I put the lid on catty whompers, leaving some corners open, and weighted it down with something to control how much rain dropped into the tub for watering.
At some point, I started adding a weak solution of MG water soluable when I watered the tubs.
Tamara -- at this "supply house" i have near by -- they have those heavy duty domes... they are about 7" tall -- so comes in really handy for when seedlings are growing taller. they have vents in the roof too.
I just threw away 2 lids for flats ,thought I willl never use these,I needed the flats bought the kit ,now I want the lids hahaha... Iam sure I will find something before I need them .Thanks everyone !!!!
I have used both clear and opaque lids on my sterlites. Clear are the best but you can get by with opaque until the plantlings get to a certain size.
I used a small drill to put holes in the lids (making sure the holes were evenly distributed over the cups to provide rain water) and also in the bottoms for drainage. And I used a sharp pointy knife to poke holes in the cup bottoms.
I think with our wild and cold winter weather the cups of seeds can profit from having the lids on during the worst of winter. In springtime when the weather warms up, that's a different matter and you can remove the lids if you need to/want to, although having the lids on (or at least propped on top) will help keep the soil moist and reduce watering in many cases and protect delicate seedlings from this crazy rain we are getting.
I can't remember what I used to label. I often take red plastic drink cups and cut them into strips for labels and write the plant names on them with ball point, although that is not at all fool proof. I think paint pens are the best and then possibly markers.
Sometimes, if I am setting out seeds late like in April, I will use those lidded clear plastic containers that strawberries or mixed lettuce greens come in. They already have holes for circulation and lids attached. I might use these to start zinnias or some annual that doesn't need to take the whole winter to germinate since these containers are a little flimsy.
I have started many seeds in those small clear berry containers. In fact I have washed and reused them for a second year. I cover them with produce bags until the seeds germinate. It works better outdoors than indoors as if heat is used, they can dry out...must be watched carefully. I start those on shelves on my cold back porch in winter. Good for perennials and slow-growing annuals like snapdragons. Also I have started tomatoes indoors in them. they have worked so much better than some "professional seed-starting kits", in many cases.
The only thing that I wintersow in those peat pellets are lupine. I usually transfer them to cellpacks when they get big enough.
I have been kicking this long, underbed, clear plastic storage box around for years - without the lid (used to hold my socks under the bed)(where the lid is God only knows). Linda - did you mention - someone did - using one of these to sow in? I guess there's an idea. If I only felt safe in leaving a giant tray full of soil outside with all the squirrels, rodents, birds in my garden . . .. But I don't.
Can all you creative people throw some ideas my way?
About learning from mistakes - I have been WS for 5 or 6 years now, and I never do seem to get around the problem that my Sharpie "permanent" markers ALWAYS fade from weather/wear/sun. If I don't have a good idea what the seedlings are supposed to be or supposed to look like, then it's a mystery. Hummmmm... I like the idea of plastic cutlery - the knives would be my pick to use because they are straight and tall.
You need to buy one of those brother p touch machines that prints the labels for you. Ask Fruity (FOTV) about them. She has one. I have plants from her and the names are still attached to the tags! Great little machine!