OK, I'm ready to take the plunge into this new (for me) endeavor. When do you guys get going? I'm thinking January, just to get past the holidays. Or ?? I've never had much luck with seed starting indoors and am hopeful this may work better for me. And, yes, I have been reading through the WS forum but find it a bit overwhelming and with info from all parts of the country it can just get confusing. Thanks.
Hey bonehead, it'll be a new endeavor for me as well. I was thinking of January or February to give me time to recover from the holidays and to buy seeds. The nursery told me they get their seeds in around then too.
I have some seeds from last year, planted in March under a cloche, we had radishes, Green Onion and Lettuce long before most we planting, maybe end of April. January might be early as the soil temp can hold back germination and growth.
I will also take a sane approach - sounds like some folks end up with mini-nurseries. I also can't quite figure out why they are labeling both the top and bottom of their containers, seems the bottom would be sufficient. I have a label maker (P-Touch) that works well for my herbs, prints onto either a white or clear tape which adheres well to metal plant markers so I assume will stick on plastic OK.
I was diligently saving milk jugs in my shop, but have now discovered my husband was equally diligently squishing and recycling them... Still my plan, but now I've clued him in to just let them stack up. I like the idea of leaving a hinge on the carton and also punching two holes opposite the hinge for tying the top and bottom together. Haven't quite figured out where to put them yet. Or what to try to grow. Still just a project in my head I guess.
Jan and Feb are not too early to wintersow perennials. Annuals it is best to wait til March. Pretty much anything that grows from seed can be germinated this way. Tomatoes, whatever. I did it so you can. :)
The wintersown.org website, for a SASE, will send you a really nice selection of *surprise* seeds that have been saved from previous wintersowing. I started with that. They send flowers, herbs veggies, I got a very nice lettuce variety new to me, that way, called May Queen butter lettuce, oh YUM was that good!
If you corral your jugs in a container it must have drainage. I had to go out in the cold and drain mine, some of mine, that I had put in a laundry basket whose bottom held too much water. Good drainage is essential.
Don't trust tape as a marking surface, I can almost guarantee you it will come off before you are ready to find out what the heck those seedlings are and plant them out, and you will forget what is what, trust me on that.
Also don't be too overprotective of your seedlings. Put them close by the house maybe but once they've sprouted and gotten a few true leaves (not all will do that at once of course, in any one jug) then leave them open unless it is going to hard freeze or maybe a pounding rain or hail. This is one reason to plant annuals later as they are less able to survive this tough love thing.
When the jugs get covered with snow, it is a good thing! Hard to learn, that was for me, but true. Also, it is okay if the moist soil freezes and thaws a bunch of times. Main thing is don't let them dry out or become soggy.
Good to try to limit how much you plant because it is extremely easy to have too much. And if your seedlings are too thick to separate, never fear, at least not with ornamentals. The method called Hunk o Seedlings works great. Take a chunk about 2 inches square, and plant it. Repeat. The strong survive.
For veggies however you will want to be careful not to sow too tightly so you can separate out.
Don't worry about covering the seeds if they are small. Just lightly press them into the surface and pop that cap over them.
By the way, the top and bottom are supposed to be hinged by means of leaving a little section uncut.
I hope I can do this this year! The one year I did it was so fine, very very successful, I am a believer!
Mom and I tried wintersowing for the first time last year, with mixed results (but we also had mixed complications).
If you have dogs (especially crazy puppies) be aware that plastic containers in the yard are curious items and a big temptation to chew on.
Use big milk jugs or containers... we used 2 litre pop bottles for the majority of ours because we were going to experiment with several varieties of plants, and found them VERY difficult to water and to get the plants out of.
Like Kyla said, it is very easy to get too many plants.
Many of the seedlings do seem to turn out healthier than those that I started in my greenhouse.
Thanks for the advice Kyla and Julie. I already know I'll end up with way too many plants but I can donate them to where we live (a condo.) I was thinking of using 6-7 milk jugs and about 10 seeds each. The only thing I don't know is if I use seedling potting mix or regular potting mix? I'll be getting my soil when I get my spring seeds.
My plan is to set a clear container on my deck, by the railing so they get sun, and then put the jugs in there. This will prevent cats and dogs from jumping in, not to mention neighbors complaining.
So, Deb, most people up here get busy with their winter sowing dreams around the middle of December, just as they are going crazy from the lack of sunlight. This craziness leads them to contemplate growing zone 9 and 10 plants as these plants look so delicious and lush during the cold of winter. Lovely catalog photos call to us. How about tropical vines? Maybe try starting bananas from seed? Surely with just a little extra help these plants will flourish??? Then the seed catalogs have already begun and the wish lists are beginning to grow. Don't forget the seed websites such as www.jlhudson.com, specialseeds.net, hortusbotanicus, among many others.
It's such a slippery slope, I tell you! Very, very slippery! My advice? Be very, very careful! MMWWUHAHAHA!
For the past 2 years, I have had very successful results with ws in the milk jugs. The first year, I marked both the tops and bottoms, and put a lavel inside the jugs. Last year, I just taped over the used jugs, wrote on it, and also put a label inside. Don't forget to put a few holes in the bottoms for drainage. I did the perennials and HA in Feb, the rest in March. I am hooked on it. Don't buy your seeds, unless you want something special. I have a ton of seeds that I can mail to you, and there is the Hog Wild seed trading going on elsewhere. Call me 253-205-5861, and I will fill you in.
Another fan of the milk jug method here. I leave the handle uncut for a hinge. For soil I just use my Tagro potting soil, with the larger wood chunks picked out. I tried using tape as a label and regretted it. Not only did it stop sticking, but the ink faded to nothing. Next time, I'll use a paint marker right on the jug, and a mini-blind tag inside the jug as backup.
As I was trying very hard to clean some black crayon from the window sill I got to thinking ... would crayon work for marking tags? I can never seem to clean them off the blinds, walls, desk, etc so maybe it'd work for tags lol.
There are many seed trades and giveaway's here and on other various gardening websites as well as specials at seed companies.
It is true, we can save too many seeds. So people are more than willing to help you out. Don't spend too much money on seeds unless they are hard to find seeds. Most garden websites have seed exchanges...good luck!
I'm trying to plan out my buying better. I wound up with doubles, more seeds than I need, and plants I'll never plant. I'm going to keep a list of what seeds I have so I don't buy doubles. I'm not going to buy mixes when I want one specific color (did that with Yarrow and Lupine this year.) Buy exactly what I want rather than buy an alternative and THEN buy what I wanted in the first place. I'm also forcing myself to make a "go pile" of seeds that will be going away from here either via trade or SASE.
tikipod ~ Yes, I agree with you about keeping track of ones seeds. I found many that I had purchased each year, the same ones...LOL!
Others on W/S'ing ~ It has been my understanding that all hardy annuals and most perennials can be sown outside during fall or winter. They may even bloom sooner than the same ones that you sow in spring. Now, some people use that same method to sow later in spring, in containers or in milk jugs, instead of indoors under lights or in greenhouses. It is to an advantage to those of us who do not have greenhouses or much indoor space for starting seeds. And, I hear, that most are stockier since they have not been "coddled" in abnormal environmental temperatures needing to be "hardened off" first before planting out.
This time of year - so much to do...but what I really want is to get my hands into some dirt.
I take inventory of what I have and order some replacements for things that didn't make it. (I forgot to clean off begonia tubers this year and they all rotted). So I ordered replacements.
I spend a lot of time looking at what's new and some old favorites. I have learned from experience not to have a few beers and sit down at the puter and peruse the plant websites. Very costly.
I set up the starter pots and lights for my delphinium seedlings that are in the refer right now.
Sketch out what I am going to put where on my garden map, do research to get information on a few plants I have just identifies. Continue to add information to my plant database as I learn.
Usually my fuchsia starts are starting look pretty good about this time (this year they don't look very good at all.)
I just determined what veggies I am going to plant and I am off to get some seeds this weekend.
I have a good feeling about this summer!
Sara - helping me decide what color of impatients to plant in the courtyard this year.
bonehead I thought I would have my ws started by now! but still have not. Too many distractions and interruptions. But it is next on my list. This is the month to start perennials and any real early spring veggies, like kale and other greens. I mention kale because I seem to have gone on a kick with it, both eating it and also wanting to grow various ones... I think I have three varieties to try.
but for me just getting my process set up and getting a FEW jugs going will be great.
I am just going to have to wait and see about slugs and how to deal with that... but don't want to let that discourage me from even making a start, so making a start is my intention.
I haven't started anything yet, but do think WS is a great idea. I'm playing catch up after a difficult 2010, so it may be next year before I'm prepared to WS again. I'll be working on getting my inside seed starting area set up in the next few weeks to catch me up quickly. I have beds to build before I can plant some stuff out...
And I just discovered that I reordered things I bought last year and never used...sigh...
I have had delphinium seeds in the freezer for a while now and am ready to try AGAIN to get some started. Love them so much and wish they did better in our climate. Steve's show of them was very impressive.
I know the timing is not exactly right but I am going to put them in the spare refrigerator for a while-a few weeks?- and see what happens.
Made the mistake last year of using 2 liter bottles, thinking that I didn't need a huge amount of any plants, but found that the bottles dried out too fast and were nearly impossible to get plants out of when they were ready. Haven't decided what to do overall yet, but am leaning toward plastic cups with holes in the bottom in a larger clear plastic container. Even watering was an issue for me too last year as I can't just leave the starts out in my world as the "pups" love to haul and chew anything plastic. Shelving didn't work because of the uneven watering and uneven light.
Okay, next week if not sooner, I start. I have new beds that will be ready to plant in come planting time, and a good spot for my jugs (to the left of those pallets, by the corner of the house) that is outside yet protected some, facing East but on the South corner... by the water spigot...
I've only assembled nine jugs so far but probably tomorrow will look through my seeds and see which ones to start with. Some I am also going to direct seed in large containers, like some of the salad greens, so I'll post which things I do in the WS method... once I figure that out. :)
It's a generally good way to start seeds, even in other seasons, I have found... and I reuse the jugs til the fall apart. But having to start with new jugs this year after moving, didn't bring em with.
I'm going to bite the bullet and organize my seeds (or at least start organizing) tonight and find out what I still have left that I want to start and what I need to order more of. Seems like I am more behind than usual this year. I plan on at least starting some lettuce this coming weekend and will be making a list of other things that I plan on wintersowing. Gotta make sure that the drainage is especially good this year I am thinking! Boy is it WET out there!!!
Good. Your do it and it will lend me some momentum! I am committing to doing that this week, just not sure when it will plug in. Today had work in it, more than I expected. Thursday I have signed up for a free Organic Apple Growing webinar! I am sure I will learn a lot listening in on that... (sorry, totally OT here!)
I haven't planted any seeds yet. I haven't even cleaned out the greenhouse from last year. I may try my hand at more direct sowing this year. I do have a seed bed that was very successful last year in terms of using it to winter sow.
I planted nine jugs. How's this for a good estimate of amount of planting mix? (brag warning) I mixed it up in hopes I would have enough for nine jugs but not much over... These are the last three jugs and the dregs of the potting mix. :)
Here they are all lined up for inspection. I sowed winter thyme, salvia officinalis, sprouting broccoli, green russian kale, tree spinach, PNW wildflower mix, calendula, German chamomile, and the rest of the seeds of Mesclun mix that did not get in the containers yesterday (mostly lettuce seeds).
My update ... I sowed seeds and Microsoft ate them. Microsoft is the annoying little field mouse who has moved into the storage on the deck. I know he's been nibbling seeds from two containers but no nibbling that I can tell in the hibiscus jug. I can't tell if he ate any of my anise hyssop agastache though. I do know he's been eating from my bulb pots.
I am in need of more jugs and soil right now so no more for now :(
Bummer! Did it get in through drainage hole, or where, can you tell? Last year I had ground squirrels who ate every single seedling I planted out, so I know how frustrating that is.
This year I used a single hole punch in top and bottom edges opposite handle hinge, and a twist tie to close the lid on my seeded jugs. Hope that will keep out any local field mice. I have never done this before, have always just let the top sit loose on the jug, attached only by handle hinge. That way it's easier to do things for the seedlings once they are in need of more sun, or water, or whatnot, but reading your story I'm glad I did this extra step this year. (I never had a hole punch before... bought this one for a craft project I didn't do (yet) )
I also have to get more jugs and materials for another mix of potting medium...
No, they slipped in through the side of the milk jug. I didn't think they could since I have it zip tied to keep it on.
My next plan is to take a large saucer with some smaller pots inside, then top it with the top of a 5 gallon water jug. Of course I'd reuse a cookie or roasting rack and drill holes in the saucer first. Maybe use a large clear plastic one.
You sowed 9 jugs in two minutes? it takes me longer than two minutes to find anything, let alone make germination mix or label anything!
I had many bulbs sprout ... and something like mice or squirles mowedthem off flush with the chicken wire I had laid down over them! I thought I was paranoid for building Stalag Hyacinth and The Fortress of Daffodils, but apparantely I should have backed up the barbed wire with minefields.
I gave up on the red chili pepper flakes when i saw that rain washed it away,
My next move will be to arch the chicken wire up so that SOMETHING survives. But then sealing the edges will be a challenge.
well that is bad news, about those mouses, getting in that way. shoot. Someone on the WS forum was talking one year about doing it all in plastic bags with holes for drainage, and lining the plastic bags up inside a clear plastic bin with tight fitting lid, into which more drainage and air holes had been punched.
That seemed like way too much work and way too much new plastic for my taste, but it might deter mice... Anyway, wow, good luck! I am waiting to see what kind of critter eater finds my jugs. That first year I was so successful the jugs were on a deck and so safe from everything but the weather and my mistakes.
Corey, no, I did not sow nine jugs in two minutes. Instead, once I had sowed (sown? sewn?) seeded -- the nine jugs, they were so grateful, they gave me back an entire 24 hour day!
So I came out well ahead, in terms of time spent. *snork*
Well, the snow did melt but I don't think I would be doing any traveling right now. Can you tell me what species of primrose it is? I have only seen Primula obconica in a peach color. Do you have a picture? Thanks!
Kyla, your wonderful pics motivated us, and as PNW said above, we started some of our wintersowing last weekend. We looked back at our records from last year, and we had started our first WS on Jan 15, and our last batch in early March. It seems like we had the most success with the stuff that we started mid to late February. We sure did learn a lot from things that DIDN'T go right last year, so hopefully this year will be a bigger success story!
Julia, I have spent a couple of days out of doors over the last couple of weeks, and you are right... it is amazing how many little slugs are everywhere! I am on the same page as you hoping that early cleanup helps control them a bit... am also spraying all of my uncovered plants with an amonia spray to add to the prevention.
I am in need of more stuff for my growing mix... in order to do some more jugs. Also waiting for a slight warm up as last couple days have been too cold for my comfort though I am sure the seeds would have been just fine!
Glad to hear your records give mid Feb as the good time of success as that looks like when I will actually be doing most of my WS-ing anyways! I know I had good success in Weed from stuff sown as early as late December! but it sat out on the deck under snow lots of that time... might have done just as well sown in Feb, who knows!
>> I am in need of more stuff for my growing mix...
What is your magic soil mix? I didn't see it up above.
I just made 36 3.5" pots of:
almost a cubic foot of "fine"shredded pine bark (passes a 1/4" screen)
small bag of Orchid Bark (screened with 1/4" screen)
8 qts of "Orchid Mix" also screened down to 1/4", removing many big bark chunks
around 6 qts of coarse Perlite
(haven't found chick grit yet)
small bag (4 qts?) of almost-powdered peat (Jiffy Mix seed start mix).
I fear the shredded pine bark isn't sterile since it is marketed for "mulch", but hopefully that matters less for WS than it would indoors.
I plan to probably WS most of these, 9-12 seeds per 3.5" pot:
9 kinds of Penstemon (maybe I'm starting that 3-4 weeks late for some varieties).
5 kinds of Lobelia.
Maybe as many as 10 kinds of Salvia, though I guess not all kinds need stratification.
Allium "Purple Sensation"
Columbine McKana's Giant Blend
Columbine Dk Blue - Purple from deejay9
Butterfly Flower (Asclepias tuberosa)
A few Delphiniums: darn the slugs, full speed ahead!
Salvia and petunias are also overdue for starting indoors.
I seem to see that Lobelia can also be started indoors, though others say "stratify".
If I found time to research them, these would be my next candidates for WS,
but it looks like that research may have to be done next year!
"Lion's Tail" = "Wild Daga" = Leonotis leonurus
Viola "Johnny Jumpup"
Blue Flag Iris = Iris Virginica
Tiger Lily = Lilium lancifolium var. splendens
Chinese Tiger Lily
White Trumpet Lily
White Datura "Moon Flower"
Lord, Corey, I don't have any magic mix. What I have is always some mix of, well, what I have. But it has to include some decidedly non sterile compost/and/or/manure. And I have no desire to argue about that with the folks who tell us it is stupid and foolish to use organic material in containers. I think I understand their reasons but I has MY reasons. It's all good.
So this time I had a ton of that topsoil mixed with some unknown percentage of probably steer manure, left over from putting it on the beds out back, and I had some peat moss which I never buy but did this year for a reason I turned out not to need it for but now glad I have it cause I have not yet managed to get some coconut coir which I HIGHLY prefer... anyway, so soil, coir or peatmoss, compost or manure (this time I also had some fancy dancy compost from Vermont I bought in a bag from some outfit or other so as to have something on hand, used most of it up.) and some real fancy potting soil just for the sake of whatever all is in it, like maybe bat guano?
so dirt, compost, fancier potting "soil", coir or peatmoss, and vermiculite. Which I prefer to perlite mainly cause perlite is white and also what is in the store has fertilizer in it which I decidedly do NOT want. the vermiculite is clean at least.
anyway, I eyeball this and mix by hand, literally digging my hand in and shwishing around til it is all the same consistency. that's actually pretty hard work to do, it turns out. I have no idea how to tell you how much of which, either, I just do what looks and feels right to me.
It's the vermiculite I'm out of. almost out of.
Now, I know most of that stuff is totally not necessary to germinate seeds. But most of it is, IMO, necessary or at least beneficial, to growing strong seedlings and baby plants sturdy enough to put in the ground later on. which is their fate, after all. I will say I use a thinner mix, less organic material and more "fluff" and "aerating" type material in comparison to a mix I would intend to actually grow something in for long.
Cool! I appreciate knowing that a near-opposite to much that I read can work fine.
>> necessary or at least beneficial, to growing strong seedlings and baby plants sturdy
I understand: looking ahead toward the actual goal or mission!
I can beleive that including soil and compost helps seedling roots find the symbiotic microbes they need for health (endomycorhyzia?)
>> I will say I use a thinner mix, less organic material and more "fluff" and "aerating" type material
That is the direction I've been moving towards for 2-3 years. In my case, it is to mitigate the effect of poor impulse control when I have a mister or watering bottle in my hand (for indoor seed starts). I'm thinking that WS must need even better drainage/aeration.
I used a spray bottle of water at one point, to keep the seedlings moist. I also had to do emergency surgery on some jugs that had sat in water and not been given enough drainage! Fortunately I caught those situations in time.
bottom watering for small containers is something I like also... but I tend to do stuff like put them in a pan or something... there is a lot of newish watering systems and items and stuff, look on Gardeners Supply if you want to exercise your drool muscles, gardeners.com -- they have so many clever things it makes my head spin.
Reminder to self: Plants knew how to grow in the dirt long before there were gardeners!
Editing to say, the first gardening book I ever read really empowered me to follow my common sense and mother wit and instincts and not pay much attention to "experts" This was Ruth Stout's How To Have A Green Thumb Without An Aching Back. In it she made it very clear that in HER learning days, when she tried to find expert advice, she most often found several voices that directly contradicted one another.
Not to say there is not a ton of lore and good advice out there from experienced growers! but just not to be too cowed by their expertise and go ahead and make mistakes and learn -- that approach does work really well.
>> when she tried to find expert advice, she most often found several voices that directly contradicted one another.
And that's a good thing! It shows that (along with whatever else they were doing, in whatever circumstances they had) widely divergent practices can all work.
As soon as I find a set of proceedures that work for me, I'll also start advertising some subset of them (without mentioning or being aware of the others, that make the first set practical), as the One True Way.
Or I'll remember to be humble. That's possible, too.
I have two huge bags of bumper crop from the nursery. Accidentally grabbed it instead of potting mix. It's a soil conditioner and is loaded with composted stuff. Kylaluaz do you think mixing it in with some potting mix might work for winter sowing? I don't think I can get out to the nursery until Spring.
I might mix it with something like coir or peat moss plus vermiculite, rather than actual potting mix, but I sure would use it rather than not trying it... If you do, let us know how it goes!
and once you've planted out your wintersown sproutlets, that material would still probably be good to put on the beds somewhere -- because all the good in it will not have been used up by a few seedlings. That's my thinking anyway.
RickCorey_WA wrote:I haven't killed any seeds yet this year, so I must be doing something right!
... err, getting a late start means no seeds have yet been put into the ground, tubs, jugs, pots or trays.
"No seeds were harmed in the typing of this post."
(BIG SMILE) I have to admit, that I have not yet started either! I have the equipment, but I feel that all has to be organized and put in place just so with my journal(s) at the ready...ready, set, GO! Well, I still need to organize all the seeds I got in the PIGGY SWAP and then get some seeds ready to be sent in DEEJAY's RR. Maybe after I get all those in order I can proceed, but not until then! So, yes, no seeds were yet harmed by me either(and hopefully none were lost!)...LOL!!
Well, I'm having seed pressure, which is a little bit like peer pressure only from seeds. They want me to plant em and they want me to plant em now!
so today I hauled off to the farm store and bought some vermiculite. They only had a big bag so I bought the big bag. So now I won't run out of the stuff. I also bought two 2 cubic ft bags of perfectly horrible but cheap and organic (just meaning it doesn't have Miracle Grrr, or the like, in it) potting soil, which I can mix with the other stuff and get some more jugs going.
I have to buy water in the jugs to get the jugs. I do have a little bit of a problem figuring out what to do with the water! so I can free up the jugs, but I think I solved it...
so tomorrow I hope to get six more jugs sowed, sown? Whatever... but I need a couple dozen more I think...
I buy water for my jugs too. Lately I've been buying Sunny D in the larger containers and I'm saving those too. We never seem to use up the milk before it goes bad when I buy it in gallons.
Since my family is sick we will be going to the store for Gatorade. I'm going to pick up a bag of potting mix and combine it with some of this bumper crop stuff. I can just plant it in the good potting soil when it's time to transplant.
Game plan is to get two jugs done and order a few seeds I'm having a hard time finding. Then I'll work on the rest once the family is feeling better.
The cloche went back up today after making a mess out of half of the raised bed was spread with soggy compost, I erected the trellis for peas, but punted, planting only scallions, radishes, lettuce, and cucumber. Not that the soil was warm yet, but seed is cheap and I could replant in a month if I had to. The cloche reached 90F on sunny days, and was more like 70F when it was cloudy and cold out. So I am not worrying, yet. And the peas go out tomorrow. Promise. When I can level the other half, I will plant it, too.
Okay, well I'll go out on a limb here in order to support the addictions of you seed-a-holics. After doing 200 different seed types last year, plus a seed swapping party at my own house, I have two boxes of seeds sitting here going to waste. I'm doing precious few seeds this year as a way to cure what would surely be pandemonium and chaos if I were to really pay attention to seed catalogs, etc. this year. So if you will post your seed 'wants' I'll take a look see at what I have. I have something you want, or similar, I'll send them to you. Better than having them sit on the shelf.
BTW, if you have seeds that need to be stratified, better get them outside mighty quick. Or into the fridge folded into a damp coffee filter or paper towel in a ziploc bag. Otherwise, be prepared to let them sit for a year.
Pixy, I have searched in vain for silver feather dusty miller ( would LOVE to get it) and would be happy for any tall snapdragons you might not want. Also, profusion zinnias which I think were recommended at your seed party last year. I thought we had ordered the zinnias but find that they were crossed off of one order blank but not added to the one we planned to order from.
Sharon, I know the artemisia you are referring to. I would love to have that one, too. It's really lovely. Alas, no seeds for that, though. I have Artemisia frigida if you are interested in that one. The only zinnias I have are tall and white, called 'Purity'. Dmail your address if you want either of those, or both.
Angela, I have some short pink snapdragons I'll send you. I also have Agastache 'golden jubilee' and also Agastache anisata. The only Achillea I have is A. filipendulina 'Cloth of Gold'.
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Pixy, I will pass on your offers, but thanks so much anyway. It is hard to believe than I can't find that artemisia in ANY of the numerous seed catalogs this year. I just might have to resign myself to the silver dust variety to fill in my baskets this year.
Ugh. I haven't started anything yet. Piles of empty milk jugs mock me. Guess I better whip myself into -shape and get some stuff done. Last year I think it was mid-March before I got around to it, and everything did great, so I'm not going to panic- but it would be nice to get them started a little earlier this year. ;)
Winter storms are one thing that make wintersowing so appealing. Along with these I have sprouts of spinach, kale, wildflower mix, calendula, and two kinds of chamomile. Too rainy out there for me to poke around a look for more than that, that's just what I saw in a glance while holding my jacket over the camera to get a quick shot. :)
Pixydish, thank you for the Snapdragon seeds. I had some caterpillars on the plants that I had last year but the plants died while I was on vacation so I didn't get to gather seeds.
All three mice (Microsoft, Apple and Linux) haven't been seen since I took down the bird feeder. Let's hope that some seeds will germinate. I think I should double check some of the seeds I planted to make sure they are even viable since they were received in trades. I'd rather be disappointed that they are duds now than disappointed that they never germinated come Spring.
I'm sorting thru my seeds and deciding what I'm going to start outside vs. inside under lights this year. Quick question to all you winter sowing folk - is there any advantage to doing the winter sowing method with seeds of hardy annuals that you would sow out at this time of year anyway? I'm thinking mainly of a bunch of different annual poppy seeds that I got from Select Seeds (some gorgeous colors of California, Shirley, and Opium poppies). Any point in winter sowing them? Or is this really for things I'd need to wait until after the last frost day to start outdoors?
I did finally set up 5 jugs with some flower seeds. When would I want to wintersow basil? And, yes, I'm also wondering if there is any reason to wintersow things I normally direct sow (pumpkins, zuke, lettuce, beans). Seems they would be stronger to just set their roots where they will be, but perhaps not? What about corn?
I do plan to try to WS some creeping thyme, just need to find the right seed, I like the red variety and it needs to be low to the ground (not the more bushier thyme). Anyone have some or know where I can locate seed? I've already placed my seed order (Territorial) and they didn't have a creeping red, so I'll likely want to find a packet at a local nursery.
Kym, I cannot direct sow much of anything as I have such a slug problem being out in the woods. I even have a few issues with slugs in the greenhouse because I overwinter lots of stuff. It takes constant vigilence.
Bonehead, I do start my corn in the greenhouse becasue it seems the crows, mice and weed rats get to the seeds before they germinate in the garden. Again, being out in the "sticks" puts a whole different perspective on how to start things. Last year I had a problem with mice in the greenhouse, too, and had to start my corn three times. I will be setting traps early this year.
So Sharon you're saying you winter sow because you can't direct sow due to the slug patrols? That makes sense.
I just started some seeds indoors under lights. Maybe I'll try a container of each outside as well and see what works best.
I'm all excited today because I came across a pair of pretty window panes with a free sign and scooped them up. They are the shutter kind of windows that swing out with lots of small panes of glass. My mind is dreaming up all kinds of ways I could make some kind of cold frame kind of device with them...
Tiki, it's more of a deep pink, but I think it is referred to as red (kind of like all the purple flowers many books seem to think are blue). Actually, while it is budding out, it does look reddish. One variety I have is Thymus serphyllum 'Coccineus' and the other I marked as Thymus rubrus (guessing, and to identify it as the reddish one). I could probably snip and root starts, but I have a pretty large area to plant and was thinking seed would give me more bang for the buck.
Googled Red Creeping Thyme, I think I'll look for that at the nursery lol.
I have 4 flats of winter sown seeds outside. Two are disposable roasting pans with slits, one is a commercial flat and one is a window box flat. I am having much more luck than milk cartons and I already see a seedling. There might be more but I couldn't stay bent down to see lol.
I need to pick up a couple more flats, a few more seeds and do a few more. My Dad likes these much more than the milk cartons because the cartons are more visible by the neighbors.
I experimented with some flower seed which I winter sowed in mid Feb. So far, not even a glimmer of anything growing. Shall I call if a failure, or keep waiting? My jugs are nudged into the soil in a west facing planter box, so they get good afternoon sun and are in a spot that I actually remember to check them for water or life. Salvia and hollyhock.
Deb, I am having the same experience. The only sprouting I have had is black ball centaura, and I have done some snapdragons and penstemon amonght others. Only have a half dozen or so jugs, but I am thinking we need SOME sun to get things going.
I've only had a very few delphiniums come up, and they have stalled at 1/4" to 1/2", 2 seeding leaves. Like, 1% germination.
Mine were in shade until recently, and I was mostly trying to start these:
penstemon (10 varieties)
salvia (6 varieties)
Viola cornuta (1)
Butterfly Weed (1)
My first year WS. So far, even worse than my indoor-tray experience!
And my indoor trays look better this year, now that I have fast-draining mix in my insert cells and plug trays: pine-bark-based instead of mostly-peat.
Yeah, Rick - last year and the year before were both cool springs, but this one is downright cold. I heard today that this is the first time ever in recorded history that we haven't had a 55 degree or above day in the first two weeks of April. And we've been consistently 10 degrees below our average temperatures for the last month and a half.
I think it was three years ago, when i had misread a frost-date chart and thought that Everett's 50% day was in mid-March, that I re-sowed three times due to heavy frosts and even snow after I expected 'probably no frost'.
I agree with whoever wanted to rename "global warming" to "global wierding".
Yeah warming may be happening on average at the poles, but the rest of us are just getting storms. I haven't watched an Inconvenient Truth yet because I know it will scare me. I'm already convinced . . .
Well I admit I am really bummed. My wintersowing went just fine, I could show you jugs full of sprouts and seedlings, spinach, broccoli, kales and lettuces, wildflowers, even the lavender and the monarda have sprouted and I see a bean just about to come out... but this weather! They sprout and then they just sit there. And the ones I was foolish enough to plant out in the ground could not grow big enough fast enough... some eaters got most of them...
I think I feel this way most every year about this time though. Today I made the mistake of going to the garden store, and all the little three and four inch tall greenhouse grown veggies mocking my puny efforts made me blue. My sprouts are healthy as far as they go, but they are disadvantaged children, out in the cold and the gray, no warm glass walls for them. It's just not fair! :)
(Later in the year I will get over this, if the sun ever comes out for more than one day a week!)
I am not going to attempt tomatoes at all I don't think.
Over 50% of the containers/flats I had didn't germinate what so ever. I'd say one or two were victims of harsh wind. The rest resulted in seedlings, although a mix of good and minimal amounts.
I had good results with disposable roasting pans from the Dollar Tree, window sill trays and full size trays. No results with milk jugs. My seed flats sat on my south facing deck and I rarely, if ever, watered. I had a small issue with moss, a lot in fact, but I think it comes with the location. Errors with certain seeds could be the results of receiving duds or just not winter sowing material.
The good results, that WERE NOT eaten:
Korean Mint ... every seed came up.
Golden Jubilee Hyssop ... two seedlings total
Blue Fortune Agastache ... one seedling.
Anise Hyssop ... a load of seedlings that resemble the two Golden Jubilee. Either they are seriously suffering from something or an error has been made.
Creeping Thyme ... every seed came up, still tiny and just getting their true leaves.
Herbs Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Sage ... Initially had no germination but after buying new seeds I had a decent amount of germination.
The good results, that WERE eaten:
Gaillardia ... 4 seedlings, breakfast
Penstemon ... 3 seedlings, lunch
Hibiscus ... 2 seedlings, dinner
Hyssopus ... 4 seedlings, dessert
Every one of the covered ones also has germination going on, just not big enough for me to feel I should leave the top off (well, except the three new jugs just sown this morning with dandelion greens -- Catalogna Frastagliata)
Whereas these here, were wintersown and planted out in another container, and are nearly big enough to start munching for a salad! (The creature is my "rescue bug" -- found it in a bundle of collards purchased the other day, still alive, so I put him out on the salad to see if he'd recover. Looks like he is. Wasps are good to have around. Edit: Heck, maybe he's a moth. Looked like a wasp when he was all frozen and wet, though! Anyway, hope he makes it. Taking some sun today, which we thankfully have a little of!!!!!!)
I did lose an entire jug of really lovely sunflower starts to a slug. Oh well!
I am not meaning to sound smug or to gloat or any of that crap, but because this works so very well for me I wonder if there is something I could share that would assist somebody who is finding it does not work for them. Clearly our growing conditions are similar enough that should not be an issue?
anyway, for what it's worth! I also do not really have any other reasonable way to start from seed, not at all set up for anything like that, so I'm real grateful for this method.
Kylaluaz you're not bragging, just showing the benefits of winter sowing. I think I did quite well for my first year and it was a learning experience. Next year is bound to go better. Best thing I can do is go back, see what worked, what didn't and think of why it did.
I think the location of the jugs and a few dud seeds were my issues. I had to have mine on my deck and the jugs didn't get watered by the rain as well as I had hoped. I tried my hardest to hand water but it kept drying out. The flats collected the rain a bit better. I didn't think of removing the upper portion until it was too late.
That would do it, not getting watered by the rain. Why can't you have them someplace outside on the ground?
Last night we had a he**a hail storm, yikes! but to my utter amazement, nobody got hurt. I was a touch concerned for my lavender and monarda seedlings as they are teeny tiny and were out there uncovered. But they, nor anyone else, showed any harm at all from the pounding, sheesh! Today thank goodness is warmish, like mid fifties, and sunny, oh my.
Like tikipod, this was my first year WSing. And I got about 6 sprouts out of hundreds of seeds, dozens of 3.5" pots.
Maybe I had too much shade: on the porch until very recently, to keep away from slugs.
At first, the lids were more opaque than milk jugs. Later, the lids were milky 2 mil plastic film.
If the seeds needed light, maybe they needed more light than they got.
My bet is on this: porch = no sun, no greenhouse effect, cold spring, cold soil: BZZZT.
Maybe they dried out very briefly, but there was always condensation when I popped a lid and spritzed them gently. And they all had a layer of vermiculite on top of the mix.
Maybe my homemade mix was too coarse. I was trying desperately to avoid waterlogging.
I did try to start some "slow and irregular" germinators like Penstemon. I've read that "if your Penstemon don't germinate the first year, save those pots and try aggain next winter".
Maybe you island has been warmer than some of the inland folks?
I know that feeling well. However, wintersowing comes from the feeling of "got to get set up for it" that comes over me in the dead of winter. So when spring does arrive, I am more or less ready to go at least with some things.
anyway, it turns out it is a grand method no matter when you start... in summer you have to watch out for overheating under the lids, at least in *some* climates, maybe not here! but even so, as I said, for me who have no other set up, it works a treat.
Corey we cross posted, that reply was to summerkid.
Do you have slugs in mid winter? I would still put it outside, as that's part of the magic of t he method, apparently.
Also, if you use different types of containers, you need drainage as well as light and room for evaporation as well (the lids on the jugs get left off.) I dunno! but the other thing is that layer of vermiculite on top may have been overkill. with the jugs, if the seeds are little I don't even cover them, just press them into the soil which I have thoroughly soaked beforehand. If they are medium sized I will lightly sprinkle some of the same mix they're planted in, and spritz that down. If they're large I do poke them into the soil, like beans for instance...
Interestingly, yes, I had a big population explosion quite a while ago, during a warm spell. I set out beer saucers and caught lots. Then it got cold again, and I've seen few since, not even eating the one delphinium survivor.
>> you need drainage
Got that, I think, with multiple 1/4" holes.
>>as well as light
Probably not enough
>> and room for evaporation as well (the lids on the jugs get left off.)
Maybe not, but I kept checking for excessive condensation. Maybe the initial lids were not ventilated enough.
Next year I'll start with the 2 mil slitted film coverings, bigger slits, and I guess start them out on the deck, in the sun.
I'll either surround all drainage holes and vents with window screening, keep some slug bait inside the tubs, or rent an R2D2 or ducks to catch encroaching slugs.
>> that layer of vermiculite on top may have been overkill.
Hmm ... everyone says "don't cover" for some seeds, but that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I figure that a thin layer of fine vermiculite even lets light through. But I'll try some with just vemriculite UNDER the seeds, not over them.
Thanks for all the suggestions! I'll add them to my WS notes, and be trying them out next year.
Hopefully, only 2-3 of those were actually fatal mistakes.
I put around a dozen 3.5" pots into a big translucent tub around 5" deep.
The bodies of the tubs are more clear than milk jugs, but the lid was more opaque.
At first I used the semi-opaque lids that came with the tubs, then cut out the center of the lid and clamped the remainder of the lid over plastic film to hold it in place.
In addition, the porch was in deep shade excpet for very early morning.
I have no source of milk jugs, until I find a recycle bin and rinse out other people's rancid milk :-(
And even the 3.5" pots are bigger than I need for the number of plants I want to WS (and the variety of varieties I want). I'm keeping my eyes open for free 2.5" pots in Emory's Nursery discard bin. I've gotten plenty of 3.5" pots from them, and just a few 2.5". If you want gallon and larger nursery pots, they are on 164th near I-5 in Lynnwood.
Water jugs, Corey. I don't use milk jugs either! for that very reason. But I do buy distilled water in order to have the danged gallon jugs! (and then I use the water in various ways.) Then I found out a friend was buying the same kind of water so I started scoring her empties.
Get some Sluggo and sprinkle around the area, if the slugs are that bad. The OMRI kind, now, not the "Plus" that says "For Organic Gardening" but is formulated to kill a bunch of other things gardeners worry about that they probably shouldn't. Sluggo itself is just iron phosphate, and it does go right back into the soil from whence it came, and meantime kills excess slugs.
the basic idea with wintersowing is actually to put the seeds outside, with just enough protection (the jugs) to keep germination maximized. But letting the weather and the sun and all have at them. Opaque lids + no sunlight = no plants.
I'm obstinate about paying for water, when there's a 350-foot-deep well near me with super tasting water. I'd sooner hold my nose while rinsing other people's milk (or water) jugs.
And I do like the 3.5 or 2.5" pots, and don't like the idea of putting neat rows of plaqstic discards out for my neighbors to forgive me for. At some point they or park managment will lose patience with all my gardening clutter, and that would seriously crimp my style. You know how small the lots are in my park! Luckily one neighbor already moved out.
If I can't make small-pots-in-WS-tubs work after a few years, I might have to fall back on cut-and-taped jugs, maybe hidden with a translucent screen open to the south, but looking like a cold frame to most neighbors.
I guess I could split one gallon milk jug into four or six zones with plastic dividers, since they're much bigger than I want to start seeds in. Or the half-gallon size comes closer to my goal.
These have worked tremendously well for me: The clear plastic square bins that the fancy mixed greens come in at my Safeway. Being vegetarian, I go through one of those big ones (at $5-$6) a week.
They are easy to pierce, easy to label, easy to pop the tops off & on & are easy to stack or arrange because they are rectangular. There are smaller ones, too, but I prefer these because they are maybe 5" deep.
You can duck tape one long side & then prop the lids up too.
I looked back at my last post to see when it was...April 15. Today I checked and I now have LOTS of snapdragon seedlings in their jug and a few other sprouts in the other ones. That little bit of sun that we have gotten lately seems to have done the trick. I will post more if there is more news.
The one year I played seriously with WS I used the little 4" pots, put them in a tray and put them on the (shallow-pitched) roof of a shed and just let them alone. I think being on the roof helped with the slugs, but there wasn't a lot of weather protection, so things didn't start to come along until about April. With the cold we're having this spring, ugh! I'm glad I didn't try that this year!
I've been using the boxes like SK's here in the house to start seeds. They do work really well. DH has a bit of a Trader Joe's muffin habit, and those muffin trays are my favorites because I think they're just a bit deeper than the other roll trays I have (We don't usually get the lettuce mix boxes.) I have decided that they are not a good choice for peppers, though. Peppers want to be warm to germinate and I think the thin walls kept the soil cooler. Once I figured that out and wrapped them up a bit I started getting better germination.
Sharon, did I ever say thanks for the lobelia pictures? They were quite helpful. Mine are popping up now-it's amazing how small they were at first.
Hmmm, CLEAR WS containers? i thought that 'translucent' helped avoid solarizing the seeds. (I sledom have snbow, but occasionally a winter day will clear up and give brief but intense low-angle sun.
Would 20 ounce or 2 liter clear soda bottles ("pop") be too small or too tall?
I can get hundreds of those from work. Like closed-bottom cloches.
Probably would not "hinge" well, but I could see into them!
I would still try to corral them in something to hold them upright and shield the neghborhs from them.
Leave the screw-tops off so they don't steam-kill the seeds?
Maybe cover the spout with window screening to break up rain drops & keep slugs out?
A 20-ounce bottle is about the right size for me, 12-21 seeds per bottle and expect 30% germination and seedling survival.
A 2-liter bottle would be wastefully large for me unless I could split it in half and still get the seedlings out.
Maybe I won't care about "size" if I perfect a CHEAP well-draining seedling mix that's mostly well-screened medium pine bark mulch, baled peat moss and crushed rock.
I've seen pictures of folks using 2L pop bottle for WS-I don't see why it would be a problem at all. Same with the smaller ones. I think at the latitudes we are at-and even more so for you than me, clear containers shouldn't be a problem like somewhere lots further south. We have a LOT less light here in the winter.
Course, this is all just my opinion and I'm certainly no expert. I do think it's absolutely worth experimenting with. :)
I think people cut the pop bottles the same as the milk jugs, a couple inches up from the bottom. Not hinged, just all the way through and then maybe taped back together, or just sort of jammed over itself. Another part to experiment with?
I know what you mean about the quantity-I'm on an average city lot and can only use so many seedlings in any given year. I still start more than I can use, particularly if I'm not sure how old the seeds might be (from a swap or something) or I know I'm using some of my older ones.
(One of my experiments this year was seeing what would happen with some lemon cucumber seeds from 1999 that I found stuffed at the very back of a drawer in my garage. I tried the damp paper towel germination method and have had at least 7/11 seeds start to germinate. So far, only one has actually grown, but it's been a fun experiment nonetheless.)
the only problem with size is, you do need enough space for the roots in the bottom and the stem and leaf growth at the top. I found those clear produce/salad boxes to be too shallow.
Yes, leave the screwtops off of soda bottles and leave the caps off of the gallon jugs, most definitely.
Corey, I just used a WS gallon jug to sow three bean seeds for runner beans. I just put them about a third of the way apart. It is not all that hard to separate them when the time comes, you don't need room dividers. :) Unless you are sowing more than a single kind of seed in the container.
I don't put that much dirt in my WS containers & don't care whether they are hunched over by the end, but then I don't plant that many seeds per container either -- nothing like the miniature forests that other people manage -- so they have room to spread out. And near the end I had plenty of room in my cold frames to uncap the salad bins & leave them there.
I'll bet that most approaches work, or can at least be adapted to fit the grower's personality. The plants do, after all, have an interest in surviving!
But definitely listen to Kyla over me because all my WS was done in Illinois, where the climate was much harsher & stuff grows more slowly.
>> Unless you are sowing more than a single kind of seed in the container.
Yes, that's what I mean. I'm trying to test many perennial varieties, a few plants of each. Hence many 3.5" pots, a different variety in each pot.
If they can survive in my yard (including slugs), they should propagate themsleves for at least a few years.
I am trying a few annuals, like cold-weather salvias, in WS tubs, but every salvia variety did better in indoor trays (this year) than outdoors. Some are over 1/2 inch tall and have one pair of real leaves! (I should have strated them a month sooner.
Petunias, on the other hand, are being VERY reluctant indoors this year. I thin k the salvia liked the dryer, chunkier seedling mix, but petunias wanted the fine peat powder even if it was soggy.
To put my WS lack of success in perspective: first year WSing, and it took me 2-3 years to get any success INdoors with fussy seeds.
I am paranoid about the greenhouse effect. My house has South-facing windows, and the low sun angle during the winter turns half the house into an oven ... even in winter.
I guess leaving the top off a jug prevents that. And even the sunniest part of my yard gets less sun than that window does!
I'll try the clear bottles, at least 3" root zones, top cut 360 degrees plus three slits in each half, to interlock and tape a little.
Some kind of "corral" to prevent tipping. blowing, and cat/squirrel depradation.
I'll watch closely the first few clear days, and if necessary change the corral to a shade frame.
Then maybe in mid-spring, make it a "cold frame" intended to provide warmth except for the middle of the day, when it had better not steam any greens before I'm ready to eat them!
I haven't given any thought to WS for crops or annuals - just fussy seeds that need stratification.
But it might have been a good idea: I finally had some snow peas show their face. No true leaves yet. But a lot of squirrel or cat digging - I let the hot pepper flakes wash away!
Corey, maybe that's why you're having trouble! You're doing the difficult seeds. I do all the easy stuff that otherwise would just get thrown into the garden. Or like Susybell, testing old seeds in which I don't want to invest much time.
If the clear bottles are easier for you to come by, maybe you can put masking tape on the sunny side or parchment paper?
>> Corey, maybe that's why you're having trouble! You're doing the difficult seeds.
I like that theory, better than "dumb Corey killed ANOTHER 200 seeds!"
>> If the clear bottles are easier for you to come by, maybe you can put masking tape on the sunny side or parchment paper?
I'm leaning towards some bigger, external flap that would be movable, and also look more like "gardening" to the neighbors. Maybe very open row covers supported OVER the bottles, for light shade. Prevent them from venting at night, to hold more heat.
But mainly, there has to be some kind of concealing "corral".
I started to like some other people's pics of big arrays of jugs: "Marching Munchkins" or maybe "The Revenge of the Recycling Center".
Armies of little Martians, masquerading as milk jugs, covered with mystic scrawls.
But I'm already messy enough in my yard.
Maybe after I get "all" my raised beds built, made enough soil for all of them, improved all that soil "enoguh" ...
.. and have less time pressure, maybe I'll start tidying up everything every day instead of saying "good eneough" as soon as I can move on to some other task ...
... then I'll take more chances on alienating park management and neighbors - probably by building hoop tunnels and clear plastic lean-tos.
(I already give away cut flowers, partly for PR and to apologizer for the construction mess. If I can give away vegetables as well, that may keep me in their good graces.
Park management, I just don't know. Technically we are forbidden to do ANYTHING in our yards without submitting plans and getting approval. FFFPPPTTT.
Ah, that susybell, she is so wise for agreeing with the summerkid.
It's kind of like the whole strawbale gardening thing, which quickly left me in the dust because it got so complicated, with its dripping of teaspoons of this & that onto the bales & its watering & situating, and should you use a plastic teaspoon or invest in the Walmart kind.
I let my bales, which served as a compost corral, rot for a year, plopped some plants into them, walked away and was overrun with the results.
Yes, I don't want complicated either. I like trying different things, finding ways that work for me and not over-thinking it. Being a little too analytical for my own good as well as trying to resist perfectionistic tendencies I can get myself way too tied up in knots if I let it get too complicated.
Rick, have you considered tracking down the local bonsai club and buying a soil mix or getting a recipe from them or one of the members? Their mixes will drain well. The nice thing is a local mix will have proved successful in our climate..
Park management, I just don't know. Technically we are forbidden to do ANYTHING in our yards without submitting plans and getting approval. FFFPPPTTT.
Has anyone complained or turned you in yet? Has the manager come knocking at your door? How on earth are you going to grow all those lovelies without anyone noticing? Maybe they (the mgmt.) will wait until you have your garden in place all nice and then tell you that you must remove everything since you did not get that required permit. (GRRR...)
>> Found it nearly impossible to get the seedlings out of the 2 liter bottles. Won't try that again.
That did occur to me as a possible difficulty, but it seems as if, at worst, I could cut the bottle away with tin snips. I'm wor4rying first about getting some seeds to survive out there, THEN I'll worry about getting them out of pots, bottles or jugs.
>> Has anyone complained or turned you in yet?
No, in fact the two most imposed-upon neighbors would look at the dirt piles or stacks of pavers and scattered tools, and say they appreciated the flowers! Then one of them moved away ... for other reasons. The relators trying to find a buyer for her manufactured home look at me funny, but I tell them that I'm tidying up her gardens some, and they seem the think the tradeoff is good.
>> Has the manager come knocking at your door?
No, but they are whimsical, and I think I'm getting away with things more out of their laziness than anything else. The owner (whom we almost never see) told me that cats are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN and that if I was thinking of letting a cat outdoors, she would SET TRAPS.
That bothered me, but my SO poo-pooed the idea. In fact, the neghborhood is CRAWLING with outdoor cats, you can't be outside for an hour without seeing a couple of different ones.
I just wish they would chase the squirrels away, instead of treating my beds as a cat box.
>> tracking down the local bonsai club and buying a soil mix or getting a recipe from them or one of the members?
That never occured to me, but isn't bonsai all-indoors, and long-term, like years in one pot?
As for buying prepared bonsai mix, I'm not sure they would be as cheap as I am, considering the hours of primping they put into each pot. I'm guessing that "bonsai mix" might be one of the few things even more expensive than "orchid mix".
But looking for a recipie, or rather suggested components for a fast-draining inexpensive recipie is a good idea, i'll check for bonsai "Meetups".
I already know of components used for fast-draining mixes where price is no object: expanded shale and clay products like Turface. Not where to buy them, but I know some names of products.
Considering that I would rather have the components all be cheaper than Perlite, that is a severe constraint. I'm even thinking of ways to get p-eat moss out of the bale while preserving longer fibers, on the theory that it will drain at least a LITTLE faster as long fibers, than as powder. Or at least be eaiser to "open up" with grit, bark chunks and perlite.
Mainly, I think i need to have fewer fines and less powder. I'm sure Al is right that you can't make fine stuff drain _well_ by ading big stuff ... until you've added so MUCH big stuff that the % of fine stuff is low.
I also realized that $10 for 55 pounds is not a GREAT price for grit, since that's only a little over 1 cubic foot. Almost the price of bulk Perlite, but at least grit has irregular shapes and isn't ugly.
I guess I like a challenge ... naaah, I'm just cheap.
Rick, get thee to a Bonsai meeting! (Puget Sound Bonsai Association) Bonsai are most definitely NOT only indoor plants!! (I went through a Bonsai phase until I realized I enjoyed looking at them a lot more than maintaining them) Very few are truly indoor plants at all. That's one of the reasons so many get killed off-people try to keep them inside. And also why their drainage has to be so good---and why Bonsai gardeners are so very knowledgeable about growing, soil, and drainage...(like Al, for example...) The bonsai club meetings usually have folks selling things, and also at the workshops they offer. Prices for plants and supplies/tools are often much better at the club functions than you'd see for any kind of bonsai stuff at most nurseries.
The last batch of bonsai soil mix I had was very coarse-small red volcanic rock, some type of bark fines, maybe some sand, if I remember correctly, but it's been gone for a while.
PNWMountainGirl wrote:Corey, we tried both milk jugs and 2 liter bottles last year in our first WS attempt. Found it nearly impossible to get the seedlings out of the 2 liter bottles. Won't try that again.
Was it easy to get them out of the milk jugs? You guys might laugh but I used a spatula to remove the seedlings from the disposable pans. I cut them like a cake or brownie and scooped them up lol.
With the jugs, I take and up-end the whole thing into my hand, over a dishpan, and once the entire ball of roots, seedlings, and dirt is out in the pan, I separate with my fingers the "chunks" I want, or the individual plantlets, or whatever. Then whatever I did not plant out is still intact, and it goes back into the jug with some additional soil to fill the container again, and a splash of water, and back in the "holding tank" area for me to decide what to do with the rest of it.
>> Puget Sound Bonsai Association
>> very coarse-small red volcanic rock, some type of bark fines, maybe some sand
Drool, drool envy.
My idea of "pefect" would be crushed, screened volcanic rock like pumice or tuff of anything porous and slightly crumbly. Like pelletized rock dust.
I hope they can point me towards sources of supply, and the principles they use to roll thier own.
My own nature is that I don't like pre-packeged mixes (even cheap ones!) or someone else's recipie cloned blindly and without understanding. I wnat to understand WHY something works, and prove it to myself by interpreting or even extending the principles, not following some process by rote.
I realize that people who "just want the result" save a lot of time and effort by doing things exactly the same way someone else found worked for them, in their circumstances.
My inclinations may seem perverse, but for some reason, the process of learning, understanding, and (I suppose) "experimenting" appeals to me as much as or more than a big bed of colorful flowers, and neighbors saying "You grew those FROM SEED?"
It's the Frank Sinatra Syndrome: "I did it my way".
I'm hoping to ease the pain of pulling chunks of soil out of smaller containers in a few ways:
1. Cut the bottle all the way around, no hinge.
2. Like Kyla: invert, dump, pull apart.
3. After I filled a trash bag wioth all ikinds of 20 oz bottles, I stopped collecting any "wasp-waist" bottles. Now, if it doesn't have pretty straight sides, I leave it in the recycle bin.
Straight-wall bottles are harder to find in the 2-liter size than the 20-oz size, but I want the small guys more, anyway.
Maybe, in a few years, if I start starting annuals and crops by mid-spring "WS", I might want some bigger containers. If my tubs-and-pots still aren't working as well as soda-bottle-cloches, and I haven't bult a cold-frame, then I may start asking neighbors if they throw away any gallon or half-gallon jugs.
I already drop off cut flowers to the lady who isn't complaong about looking at a compost heap and hill-of-clay. If I move up to giving away vegetables and potted plants, I should be able to get some jugs in return without having to clean out other people's curds and whey.
Yes, I am back, but that is all I want to share right now. The cloche has a good show of radishes, but onions and lettuce are more or less void. I reseeded them yesterday, along with putting in some bush beans. Its been a tough spring in MLT.