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Winter Sowing: WS and Poppy Newbie

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CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 22, 2011
3:11 PM

Post #8324605

I'd like to try WS for the first time with some oriental poppy seeds which will hopefully be here in another week or so. I do have some questions and have been going through some of the threads on this forum to search for the answers.
Is this a good time to WS oriental poppies or should I wait another month or so?
From what I've read, one needs to be careful transplanting due to the long tap root. Can I sow the seeds in paper pots?
Should I cover the seed with soil? I plan on concocting my own soil from peat, vermiculite, perlite and mushroom compost with no added fertilizer.
Don't have milk jugs but I can come up with a comparable setup. When using milk jugs, does one keep the caps on until later in the season? If so, would this be early spring?
Thanks for your patience and help since I'm sure these questions have all been asked in the past.
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

January 24, 2011
7:11 AM

Post #8327353

Cindy,
I'm going to jump in here and help you as far as I can. I have ws mostly annual poppies, but tried orientals last year with some success. As far as the soil you're planning to use, I used pro mix for mine and that seemed to work well. Hopefully someone with more experience using a personal mix will have more advice on this.
I like using clear soda bottles for poppies simply because it lets in maximum light and is easy to cut away when transplanting the poppies out. Paper pots are not generally deep enough for ws and tend to dry out too fast. You can plant out hunks of seedlings when putting them out into the garden to avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. So if you see the 'hos' method for transplanting, this is what is being referred to. You may lose some of them, but will have much better luck with the transplanting percentage overall. And no, you don't leave the lids on.
Poppies need light to germinate so don't cover the seed. Press them gently into the top of the soil instead. You should have wet your potting soil already so you don't scatter them all to the side of your container by watering them in right afterward.
Much more info on ws in the stickies at the top of the forum. Dive on in and start begging for planting containers like the rest of us. It's addictive:))
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 24, 2011
7:52 AM

Post #8327431

Thanks so much for all of the info! I was scanning so many of the WS threads re: poppies, picking up bits but I had other questions that I couldn't find answers for (sadly, impatient).
How deep should the soil be in the WS container? I do have one pop bottle from the holidays that I saved. Will have to look for more containers. My organic milk only comes in 1/2 gallon cartons as does our OJ so no luck there.
I've read a little about the hos method. Does one thin out the seedlings once they've been transplanted to the garden site?
Are the oriental poppies warm germinators, waiting until temps hit the 60's or 70's or will they germinate at lower temps?
Thanks again for the advice.

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

January 24, 2011
7:58 AM

Post #8327438

I'm an annual poppy person. They germinate better when it's cool, and I use newspaper pots for ws'ing poppies, because they dislike root disturbance, I just plant the whole thing. I do at least two flats of poppies, and the paper pots are 2" in diameter, snuggled up against one another. I learned the hard way that no matter what pen or marker I use, you won't be able to read anything written on the paper containers. Use a plastic marker.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
1:07 PM

Post #8327934

I've never had issues with planting poppies. i can't recall if i ever did a large milk jug and divided the 'chia pet' of seedlings... but i know last year for sure, i use qt sized [Dean's H&H] for my poppies and sour cream [ Daisy ] containers ... and just plunked the whole clump of them in the ground. no issues with roots at all.

I do believe mine were always annuals.

>>How deep should the soil be in the WS container?

3-4" of soil... i think most of mine turn out to be about 3.5"
you need to gives the roots room to roam.

1/2 gals are just fine. I use a lot of those, since we dont use that much milk [gallons] anymore.
those Juice jugs are good too... it doesn't have to be milk per se...

CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 24, 2011
2:42 PM

Post #8328088

The milk and juice both come in cardboard containers instead of plastic. I'll scrounge around to see what I can find that will hold 3 1/2 inches of dirt. I want to punch holes in the bottoms, right?
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

January 24, 2011
2:53 PM

Post #8328109

Yes, do punch holes in the bottom of plastic containers for sure. I put my soda..or other plastic containers in a cardboard box. Keeps them from blowing around or from dogs knocking them over. It also keeps them from drying out so quickly. I compost the cardboard when I'm finished with it.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 24, 2011
3:11 PM

Post #8328145

Another good tip! Thanks to all for being so patient and helpful!

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
4:03 PM

Post #8328244

i do the same as bev with the boxes.

also, those waxy cardboard juice boxes... you can use those too. I just cu the tops off high enough and cover with a siran or sorts and a rubber band to hold it on. Some use ziplocs over the tops

I'll see if i can't find an image of that... i know i used those boxes in 07.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
4:07 PM

Post #8328254

I did not have one that was taken earlier in the season, when the covers would still be on... but you can see 3 of the waxy cardboard type boxes in the middle of the image... once it warmed up, I trimmed the sides down so the seedlings got more sun.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Click the image for an enlarged view.

CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 24, 2011
4:19 PM

Post #8328277

Ohhh - did you cut the tops off the milk cartons and then set the tops back on? Since they'd block a lot of light, when would you take the tops off? Thanks for that picture!

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
4:28 PM

Post #8328287

>>milk cartons and then set the tops back on?

are you referring to the waxy cardboard ones?

actually, no -- I didnt put any tops back on.

I'll post more images ...

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
4:34 PM

Post #8328295

here is a tray of coneflowers.

the pans are sort of shallow, but they have a domed lid.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
5:10 PM

Post #8328364

I found my poppies from last year. these are all sour cream containers.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
5:12 PM

Post #8328373

These are zinnia seedlings... I thin the containers were lunch meat containers from Sams... they had a lid, but the problem was, as you can see in the one that is still covered -- the lid is not a dome, and i filled the soil up to about 0.5" under the lip... so there was really no room for growth... i had to keep the covers off once they germinated. if i use them again, i'll not add so much soil.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Click the image for an enlarged view.

CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 24, 2011
5:30 PM

Post #8328408

So the milk cartons would have no tops at all on them? They're left open to the elements? (Forgive me for being stupid.)

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
5:32 PM

Post #8328412

here you can see some half gals, and qt sizes along with Cottage Cheese and Yogurt
the qt size were Odwalla Juice containers.

sometimes i just buy the product for the container... the juice works well in protein shakes.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
5:34 PM

Post #8328421

no -- dont leave them open to the elements... you can cover them with saran wrap - pokes holes in it -- and you'll have to secure it down, tape or rubber band, or ziploc bags upside down... think of them as mini-green houses.

I wish i had taken photos of those... but didn't.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
5:38 PM

Post #8328431

anotehr container i use a lot of are... those #2 deli containers, like for salads. they have clear lids on them... poke/cut some holes, or slits... work like a charm.

i do think there is a thread on "containers".. i'll see if i can locate it.

and the only dumb question is the one not asked... we all were new at this at one time.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2011
5:42 PM

Post #8328440

here is the Sticky ... lots of good links http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/815465/

Containers - it gets a bit chatty, and not a ton of photos... but a few.
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/809636/

containers #2
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/939313/
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 25, 2011
7:28 AM

Post #8329310

Terese - thanks for posting those links. Now I'm sure I can find enough containers for my poppies. I even remember two gallon containers of distilled water and white vinegar that are close to empty as well. I'll be making up my "own" potting mix later today so I'll be ready when those seeds arrive. It'll be a fun experiment to see if I can pull it off.
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

January 26, 2011
4:16 AM

Post #8330843

Great pics, Terese! Yep, we'll have another ws convert in no time. Nothing more exciting than seeing little green seedlings coming up in the cold when nothing much else is happening in the garden.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 26, 2011
3:14 PM

Post #8332048

tggfisk - no convert yet. :) I still love starting the seeds (mainly perennials) under the lights in Jan or Feb. From what I've read, poppies hate transplanting and they need cold. Since I can't sow the seeds in the beds (currently covered with last fall's leaves and snow), this technique might be useful. I mean, I only have so much room in my fridge. :) again

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 26, 2011
3:26 PM

Post #8332066

Trust me... you shouldnt have problems transplanting Poppies.

leap of faith... or try them both ways and see which one performs better.

when transplanted when they are small, you should not have an issue with the roots.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 26, 2011
3:33 PM

Post #8332077

Terese - Thanks for all of the encouragement and answers!

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 26, 2011
3:35 PM

Post #8332082

ya just have to try it once... and you'll be hooked.

I think in my 4 yrs here, doing WSing... i think i've seen 2 people who were not happy with their results.. and probably over a hundred who were ecstatic. so the odds are pretty good...
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 26, 2011
3:36 PM

Post #8332085

You mean I might win the lottery???

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 26, 2011
3:46 PM

Post #8332102

LOL.
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

January 26, 2011
7:13 PM

Post #8332450

If ya mean the poppy lottery...You just might, lol!
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 27, 2011
8:16 AM

Post #8333172

I am so ready to start these seeds as soon as they arrive. I keep watching the mail.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 29, 2011
8:10 AM

Post #8336708

Oh crumbs! One more question. My seeds have arrived and I even received a free packet of annual poppy seeds. And of course, there are 3 different species - orientale, rhoeas and paeoniflorum. Would all 3 be treated in the same manner with WS? Sorry to be a pest.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 29, 2011
8:23 AM

Post #8336727

I'd treat them all the same.

and from what i've read from others... dont go by the directions on the packet.. those are usually for in doors sowing.

I'd do my poppies now thru early March if I had some to sow.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

February 21, 2011
7:35 PM

Post #8385505

Hey guys. I still have two feet of snow and more coming. I cut two gallon milk jugs in half, filled 2/3 with seed soil, some polymer crystals and some osmocote (just a bit of each) watered, sprinkled poppy seeds (annuals and meconopsis) sprinkled just a tiny bit of soil on top (per dratted envelope instructions) and out back up against the garage. About 12 inches from a big snow drift. Only place not buried in snow. Obviously they will freeze solid, but I guess (hope) the theory is that they will eventually begin to warm and thaw as the days get longer and warmer. I looked up the germination time and if it works, then I should see germination somewhere between May and August. lol. It should be fun for a first try. It was -5 degrees here this morning.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

February 22, 2011
5:33 AM

Post #8385918

just plain Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

February 22, 2011
2:18 PM

Post #8386905

Hey Wisconsin, you guys are no slouches for bitter cold. Apparently not as bad as say Minnesota or North Dakota?? My profile says a 4b but I am in a micro-climate up here so I am really more like a 5a, but the cold seems to last longer. the zones only seem to measure top and bottom ranges of cold, but not duration. that has thrown me quite a bit in trying to compare with other gardeners that are theoretically in my same zone. I am probably a good two months behind all of you. :(

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

February 22, 2011
2:56 PM

Post #8386965

My "WI" is more of a zone4a i think. that is my mid-apr thru mid-oct address. When everything is toast up there, i can come home and enjoy the end of the season here... I usually have things blooming in Early Nov sometimes.

WIsc has much colder night time temps then we do down here. but sometimes, COLD is COLD once you get below 20f or so... i'm getting whimpier as i age.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

February 22, 2011
3:58 PM

Post #8387073

I guess I can't complain here. Bet gardeners in AK have to go in for the plants that bloom quick and produce edibles in a short time span. Have seen some gorgeous garden photos though and everything always looks so healthy. Good soil?
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

February 23, 2011
8:30 AM

Post #8388151

I am no expert on soil, just judging it by whether things grow well or not, but I would have to say on a whole that it is very good. Out in the Matanuska Valley they have peony farms, apple orchards, wheat growing, etc. And the occasional musk ox farm. lol. I went to the state fair in Palmer and it was pretty impressive. We always gape at the prize winning pumpkins and other vegies that weigh in at over 100#'s easy. Pumpkins that is. I only garden flowers here in Anchorage. And yes, when I do try a vegie or two (peas, beans, carrots, broccoli) I look for the short maturation ones, like 65-75 days. I start the tender stuff (vegies and flowers) indoors under lights April 15 and plant out June 1. I experimented last year with planting dahlia tubers out the middle of May, the logic being they would not be exposed to frost (if it came) before June 1. But the ground is so cold. I guess the advantage is that they are 'hardied' up naturally. I am trying winter sowing for the first time. I just have to make some adjustments for our duration of winter. I put out flats of poppies which are really hardy here, last fall. They are under snow now and I regret not putting the tops on them. As the snow melts it will fill the flats with water (no holes in the bottom). I guess I will wait until snow is melting down to the point I can trudge out there and find them along the stone path I put them on and carefully dig them up, cap them and put them on the back deck. I got a soda from Barnes and Noble yesterday and realized that, with its top, it is a totally clear little greenhouse. Enough for one or two seeds anyway. I thought to try the WS thing with a couple of nasturtium seeds as it will hold about 3" of soil with 2+" of clearance and a lid. I would have to check but I think everything is frozen solid by the middle of October and snow isn't clear to April 30 or so. But that leaves frozen dirt for a while. I shoveled my raised bed out front last year free of snow in a desperate attempt to get sun to the soil. It had to have helped as there was still over a foot of snow on the ground around them for weeks after.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

February 23, 2011
1:56 PM

Post #8388678

Sounds definitely tough to garden up in AK. DD is contemplating a move from TN to MI and there will be quite a bit of zone adaptation for her.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

February 23, 2011
2:36 PM

Post #8388753

As long as she isn't heading to to UP, it won't shock her senseless. I visited in Paris, TN for five months, from Feb to June 1980, and about died. Between the heat and the humidity I stayed indoors most of the time. My dad had moved there and he had garden plots everywhere. He was disappointed that spring bulbs didn't seem to do so well. We guessed it was too hot.
bluegrassmom
Lewisburg, KY
(Zone 6a)

February 25, 2011
7:29 PM

Post #8393124

I was wondering if anyone had tried using thick newspapers to make a paper container for poppy seeds? Maybe even put them in a muffin tin for support. I know they hate being moved. LMK
Thanks,
Teresa
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

February 25, 2011
10:38 PM

Post #8393300

I have wondered that too but haven't tried it yet. Seems like a really good idea.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

February 26, 2011
4:53 AM

Post #8393426

I dont know exactly where it is, but i guess Dave made a video of sorts on how to make paper pots. From what i've read, mixed reviews on them. but it would solve the 'don't mess with my roots' thing.

Probably took on the "Extras" page.

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

February 26, 2011
4:58 AM

Post #8393430

I use newspaper pots for poppies. I use a 1.5" or 2" piece of PVC for a mold. They're not terribly stable, so don't plan on carrying them around without a tray, but they do work well. I also use them for vegetables. I hold mine closed with two staples, which disintegrate nicely. I used to tape the bottoms, but I hate trying to peel tape off of the relatively floppy pots, and I hate having bits of tape in the garden soil that never disintegrate. I even tried paper tape, I am still finding pieces of it. I love paper pots, as long as you know you can't carry them around.

I will take photos soon if someone wants. I'm getting ready to make a slew of them.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

February 26, 2011
7:25 AM

Post #8393708

that would be great. I have flats of poppies out under the snow and was going to try the 'transplant by the bunch' method this year rather than trying to transplant each little plant. I could go from the flat to paper cups then into the garden. Don't you end up with lots of paperclips in your garden?

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

February 26, 2011
2:05 PM

Post #8394276

I just use staples, they rust away to nothing pretty quickly. I'm a barefoot kinda gardner, and never had an issue.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 12, 2011
9:14 AM

Post #8422249

Late to the party here - out of town for a couple of weeks.
You can use a soda or beer can for the mold for making paper pots. I don't use staples but instead fold the top edge down all the way around to form a rim - helps hold things together. I use one strip the length of the newspaper page since, by the time it gets wound around the can, it is sturdy enough to fill with soil.

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

March 12, 2011
10:32 AM

Post #8422391

I can never get them to stick together--do you fold them inside, towards the center?
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 12, 2011
2:34 PM

Post #8422713

We had a big wind and it blew my containers over a few feet. Jumbled all the dirt in some so my oh so carefully planted poppy seeds are now not so up to -- supposed to be surface sown as I understand. :(
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 13, 2011
4:50 PM

Post #8424934

Celene - I fold the "rim" to the inside - maybe a 1/4" minimum. Also, if I have problems with the bottoms not being too stable, I either get them filled with damp germination mix and kinda squish them down in the tray or use a little bit of tape.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 19, 2011
9:16 AM

Post #8436301

Question - looks like some of my poppies have germinated already. Will they be okay during those occasional below-freezing nights?
mstella - hopefully your jumbled seeds will still germinate for you. Can always hope.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

March 19, 2011
9:17 AM

Post #8436303

OH yes... poppies will be fine.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 19, 2011
12:15 PM

Post #8436511

Good to know. At first I was ecstatic that I had some germination and then dread set in since it's only late March with more freezing nights to come.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2011
1:24 PM

Post #8436602

Even after germination in sub30 degree weather??

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

March 19, 2011
2:31 PM

Post #8436706

Maybe...you could cover them with fleece blankets if you're iffy.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2011
3:06 PM

Post #8436764

That's a novel thought. Why fleece blankets rather than visqueen?

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

March 19, 2011
3:06 PM

Post #8436767

All of mine have now germinated.

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

March 19, 2011
3:14 PM

Post #8436775

I have fleece blankets and I don't have visqueen. LOL
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 19, 2011
3:42 PM

Post #8436822

Hmm - another question. Now that some of the poppies have germinated, do I need to keep them in a sunnier spot? They're currently on my back patio on the east side of the house so don't get afternoon sun. Not sure if I should encourage more growth with more sunlight or just let them be. I'm thinking the microclimate inside of the gallon jugs was warmer this past week due to higher temps and more sunlight (we're so cloudy during the winter - ugh).

Celene

Celene
Columbus, OH

March 19, 2011
3:53 PM

Post #8436840

They like full sun, just be careful not to roast them.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 20, 2011
8:13 AM

Post #8438137

I guess I'm concerned with the heat building up inside the plastic jugs. I know the heat can escape through the top opening but is that normally sufficient?

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

March 20, 2011
8:29 AM

Post #8438162

i think there is a recent thread about "did i cook my seeds" where they were talking about heat build-up.
Pfg
(Pam) Warren, CT
(Zone 5b)

March 20, 2011
8:39 AM

Post #8438170

The 'cooked seeds' happened in a plastic- covered set of shelves where the zippered door was closed. I noticed that thread because I have one and plan to use it. The consensus was that under 90 degrees was most likely ok.

I've read that some people when they WS cut extra vents in the plastic tops of the containers to be sure. I guess it depends on how much sun they're getting and what's happening with the outdoor temps.

I'm watching this thread because I plan to WS oriental poppies in 2 weeks. Until then I'm stuck in the city and the windowsill is full, so I just have to wait until we open the house. Better late than never, right?

Pam
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

March 20, 2011
12:39 PM

Post #8438554

I'll see if I can check out that thread. Our temps have been varying quite a bit this past week and will be below freezing at night by next weekend again. I have a spot in mind where they can get some more sun but still be sheltered and accessible.
I got some freebie yellow horned poppy seeds last week and was thinking about WSing them but I'm not even sure they'd like my garden site since I don't get full sun. Anyone have any experience with these?
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

April 11, 2011
5:41 PM

Post #8488611

Me again with another question. How soon can I plant out the poppies? Normally I wouldn't plant out annuals until the end of May but since these are winter sown, am I wrong to assume that the can go out in "wilds" at any point?
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 12, 2011
4:17 AM

Post #8489354

Poppies-with the exception of California poppies-can take the cold. I'd try to plant them out if you can.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

April 12, 2011
6:51 AM

Post #8489770

Thanks for that advice! Didn't want to jeopardize my newbie success (or luck) by planting them out at the wrong time.

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Other Winter Sowing Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Winter Sowing Seed Swap .....part 2 alicewho 213 Mar 23, 2007 1:01 PM
Lessons learned for next year #2 zenpotter 256 Mar 23, 2007 7:56 AM
Milk jugs TurtleChi 99 Mar 19, 2007 12:20 PM
WS Poppies & transplant problems marie_ 100 May 11, 2011 4:44 PM
Database germination info bluespiral 6 Mar 5, 2008 12:23 PM


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