Hi all, I have read up on winter sowing, but my question is: Are there any kind of seeds that I can put directly in to the ground without protection??
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Maybe I shouldn't speak up, since I kill more seeds than I grow. And I'm a total WS newbie. but maybe my ignorance will encourage someone knowledgable to answer!
But I have good luck with direct-sowing Bok Choy (like Chinese Cabbage, a Brassica), Swiss chard and Snow Peas, as long as soil and weather let them grow faster than slugs can eat them. You can put Zinnias and Marigolds right into the ground. None of them need cold-stratification to germinate, and they grow so fast they need little protection.
I think "WS" just duplicates what people used to call a sheltered seedbed, or a cold frame. It protects delicate, fussy or slow seeds until they can fend for themselves. And gives a small area excellent, sterile soil, controlled humidity and soil mositure, and extra warmth.
I think it depends on how vigorous (fast-germinating and growing) the seed is. And your soil temperature, soil diseases, the quality of your soil, and numbers of insects, snails and slugs.
I see you're in Zone 8a OR - if a rainy part of OR, I would ask: "got many slugs?" Machine-gun holes with slimy patches?
And rainfall: if the soil might dry out or be flooded, crusted or washed away by watering or heavy rain, forget direct sowing for slow-to-germinate seeds. Small WS top slits let in just a LITTLE rain or snow melt. Plastic film keeps humidity in, prevents drying out and keeps away cold, drying winds. Think "freezer burn".
If the seeds need extra warmth to sprout and grow well, they might rot or be eaten between direct sowing and establishing themselves.
WS bottles, bags, jugs and tubs protect them from predators (including cats looking for an outdoor catbox!).
Sterile seedling mix protects them from soil diseases.
The added warmth from the "cloche" or "cold frame" effect of WS probably fgives them a head start over in-the-ground seeds. In effect, it makes your effective growing season start weeks earlier. And it makes the part of Spring that comes after they germinate rather warmer than it is as seen by the bare soil.
I bet it mitigates the effect of unseasonably late hard frosts by cooling of slower at night! And makes it possible for you to drag the whole WS circus onto a sheltered porch if you get a late spring blizzard or wierd cold snap.
Seeds of vigourously-growing species that DON'T need stratification, direct sowed into warm, clean, rich, well-drained, well-aerated soil without grubs, slugs, snails, bugs and mold, probably have a great chance if you are careful about watering them lightly for the first few weeks. (But WS might get them to flower weeks earlier.)
Seeds of vigourously-growing species that DO need stratification, direct sowed at just the right time into clean, rich, well-drained, well-aerated soil without grubs, slugs, snails, bugs and mold, probably have a pretty good chance as long as weather co-operates, and you don't get late hard frosts, but DO get enough early cold to do the stratification. If they are perennials, you may not mind if the late start causes them to flower only a little the first year.
Hi Corey, Thank you so much for the info!! I have lots of zinnias but have never had any luck planting in spring so maybe this will be the cure!! I am so excited, I am going out to try it now!! Thank you so much for all the time you spent giving such good info!!
a few reasons I WS instead of direct sown in the spring...
1) it gives me something to do in the dead of winter - i get to organize my seeds, futz with my "lists" and 'play in the dirt'
2) the containers protect the seeds from critters who will eat the seeds [birds and squirrels mostly] keeps them from blowing away or washing away.
I even WS my marigolds and zinnias
OH... #3) - I will know it's seedling and not a weed.
sometimes when i direct sow, i probably end up pulling about 25% or more - as i didnt think i planted anything in that spot.
>> it gives me something to do in the dead of winter
Totally! And it offloads some of the Spring Madness when we have to do 80% of our gardening in 20% of the time.
Summerflower / Lisa,
I feel better about my answer since tcs1366 implied it isn't all wrong.
And, between the two of you, I'm emboldened to admit that for several years I have violated all the rules in all the seed packets, and sown my Zinnias indoors!
They say Zinnias don't like to be transplanted.
They say Zinnias don't like little pots.
They say Zinnias should be direct-sown OUTdoors ONLY.
They say that I should wait to sow Zinnias until AFTER the soil warms up thoroughly.
All I know is that, one of my first few years starting seeds indoors, Zinnias were one of the few things that responded well to my clumsiness. They grew profusely and made me feel less like a serial seed-killer! "Ka-ching, I'm gonna do THIS again!", I said.
But if you wait to direct-sow some Zinnias outdoors into nice soil AFTER it has been warm for a few weeks, and water getly but consistently, I bet you succeed that way too. And see which flower sooner: WS or DS. Then you can post the results of a controlled experiment here, and we'll have to call your "Doctor Professor Summerflower"!
Do you already have all the Zinnia seed you need? Or would you care to try some marigolds, either big spherical "African Marigold "Crackerjack" or pretty little "French Mix"? Or who-knows-what from trades? People have been generous to me!
I happen to have a stash with some variety of Zinnias and would be glad to send you a variety.
BTW, JenniferShipway is putting together a Valentine's Day seed swap that she is making very easy to prticipate in. Flowers or vegetables. (Maybe too late to Winter Sow from this year or maybe not.)
Seed Trading: Valentines Day Seed Swap Sign-up http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1148713/
I live "roundabouts" LOL near Barnstable Village, north of 6a!
And yes, there are several "rotaries" on the Cape, all slightly dangerous IMHO, though none as scary as the original roundabouts in England are, which you have to enter by turning to the LEFT. Now that's nerve-wracking, at least for an American driver!
Whoa, I didn't realize DG could terminate people so explicitly.
I've actually posted occasional links to threads or webpages from other gardening sites, when I consider that the information is especially germane to the particular DG discussion of the moment, and I've not been reprimanded yet! ;-) (Even to the older site that might be considered "the competition.") Maybe I've been lucky.
I do agree that it's all about sharing knowledge, and DG has always been such a wonderful resource for bringing all sorts of information together.
Hope you get back to Cape Cod this summer, bluegrassmom! Right now, it's a toasty 29 F outside! Fall is also a lovely time to visit--not so much for the colors, but for the long mellow months of Oct. and Nov.
Hello All, I was just checking out the WS forum and came across this thread. This is my second year winter sowing. I am in zone 5b and would like to try WS zinnias this year but am wondering when I should plant. I posted this question on another site but didn't really get a response.
tcs1366 I see you are zone 5a...what date do you WS your zinnias? Just trying to get an idea of how late I should wait. Thanks so much for any advice!
Corey -- i was sort of rushed in some planting last year. I had to get plants in the ground before i left town.
so -- maybe they went in a bit early -- but they did fine. at least the ones in Zone5 did. I think all the ones I planted survived.
In the past 8-9 yrs i think... i can recall ONE time that we had a killing frost in May.. i recall it because a friend of DH's planted $75 worth of tomato plants. they all died. I gave him some of my seedlings, and he never planted them **shakes fist** i told DH that is the last time i gave him any plants. so that was probably 5-6 yrs ago.
one year i was gutsy enough to plant end of April first week of May and no frost. I did save the tops of the 2 ltr bottles to use as temp. green houses for really windy days... but I had early tomatoes that year. YUM.
>> I did save the tops of the 2 ltr bottles to use as temp. green houses
I was trying to decide whether to use 20 oz. soft drink bottles "bottom up" or "cap up" to protect some seedlings from slugs and rain (and give them a little warmth).
I have small bottles from the work recycle bin, but no 2-liter bottles.
I was thinking that if I used them "bottom up", I could drill vent holes around 1/8th", and hope slugs couldn't squeeze through.
If I use them "cap up", I had better stuff some window screening into the mouths, or maybe punch small holes into the aluminium cap and leave it on.
Another possibility was to put down a small pinch of slug bait, and protect it from rain with the bottle. Then I could use bottles "bottom up" and drill larger vent holes, like 1/4". Then I wouldn't worry about cooking the seedlings if the sun should appear.
Does anyone know if slugs are unable to climb plastic? I think someone said that they can get into margarine tubs to reach beer. (But maybe they do that by streeeeetching.)
Defense or offense? Does it last long if it gets rained on? I could spray some onto spots where they are likely to gather, like under every rock and paver. In late summer, before the rians start again, doing that where eggs are laid could help.
I thought ammonia was most effective when sprayed right onto a slug. If I see a slug, I cut it in half.
Once the rains stop, I'll let you know how beer works for me.
yes, you have to spray them. I dont have them too bad in my hosta bed along my garage... our back in the field yes -- but i dont have prized hostas back there. Yuck.. i couldnt cut them, so i keep the bottle handy.
I have to chime in on Sluggo Plus, a friend and I ordered some last year (can't buy it locally for some reason) and tried it in our hosta beds and for the first summer...no holes! She had a similar experience. We had both used regular Sluggo but "Plus" was much better. It doesn't sound like I get as much rain as Corey though.
Hmm, I'll double-check the label. I don't recall whether mine said "plus".
I used to use a variety with metaldhyde, and I immeiatly saw many profuse slime trails ending at dead slugs. The iron phosphate kind does seem to reduce the numbers of the slugs, but not as dramatically.
I wish I could get a sticky liquid metaldehyde product that I could spray on Delphiniums and Penstmons! The there would be much less total chemical, MUCH less run-off, and the slugs would be drawn directly to it. maybe even plant a row of lettuce around the plants they like best, and spray the lettuce.
>> It doesn't sound like I get as much rain as Corey though.
Moss grows on roofs and driveways here. When I first moved here, we had (if I recall) 40 days ion a row with at least some rain every day. People made jokes about Noah's Ark, but did not seem surprised. However, a flash of sun during the winter IS cause for comment, and we all turn into sunflowers, standing outside looking up at the bright yellow round thing in the sky, trying to remember what it's called.