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.
WS 2011 changes
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.
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.
lollipop sticks -- Been there done that. I used them my first year, and they do rot.
Seems our weather has been quite similar ... though we did not get as much snow or rain [hope you are not in the flooded areas that i've been seeing on the Tube]
the sun is FINALLY shining here with blue skies... something I have not seen in some time.
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.
One reason i always use the Scientific name in my spreadsheet/database is many folks refer to plants/seeds by the scientific name. [which i'm learning many of]
If i can't figure it out, i will use the "find" within the program and find it that way, where it will also have the common name.
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...
hi everyone checked my ws and I have sprouts in every jug I didn't think there would be anything as they were covered in snow for so long
sissy... snow is good as it is an insulator. THe snow never bothered me, it's the COLD and frost....frost mostly.
we have cold coming tonight, but it wont last, so i'm not worried about any of the lil seedlings i have out there.
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!
This message was edited Jun 21, 2010 2:28 PM
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.
It's a great thing when someone affirms the discoveries we make. Glad we figured it out together!
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.
Wow, I am surprised too - I'd have thought the exposed ones would be beefier too - I wonder if that would work for perennials in early spring here (when the temps are 50's and 60's)?
OK- I'm hooked- I'm jumping on the WS wagon- thanks, Gymgirl-
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?
Good experiment, G.G.!!
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...
I believe the tall tub was 18-21" deep.
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.
Is there a reason you wanna start in the cups?
Here're my milk jugs...
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.
This message was edited Jul 21, 2010 3:10 PM