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Plug Trays for WSing?

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Greetings Friends!
As a result of the Great Generosity at the Seed Swap, I am in seed heaven! Now, being the flower greedy gardener that I am, I'm thinking about WSing some of these seed in a plug tray. The one I'm looking at has plugs 2" in diameter and 4" inches deep. It occurs to me however, that that simply won't be sufficient depth for WSing.
What are your thoughts?
Marlene Trays&cid1=224&cid2=405&cid3=-99

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I would think that 4" deep is plenty adequate. I have some in deli salad trays with only two inches of dirt. When they grow a bit I move them to pots by the clump method, then further move those that prove hearty.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Hi Marlene!!

What would you cover the trays with? Or are they going in your new greenhouse?

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Hi All,
SSgardener, I'm thinking of covering the trays with a couple of pieces of saran wrap:)
Oberon46, wow, Alaska! Talk about winter sowing, LOL. I was concerned because of though the depth is 4 inches, the diameters of the plugs are only about 2 inches; hence a real lack of soil for warmth. It is freezing here in Silver Spring, Maryland today. I'm sure though, nothing compared to the temperatures in Alaska!
I'm still sitting on the fence about ordering those plug trays. For one, even though they are billed as reusable, I worry that perhaps they are the more fragile resuable plug trays.
Perhaps I'll come to a firm decision by tomorrow morning:)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Marlene, if it's 4 inches deep, and you use about 3 inches of soil, then it gives only 1 inch of headroom for the sprouts to grow... unless you can prop up the saran wrap somehow? I've seen pics of people using ziploc bags as covers for single containers, but I guess that wouldn't be practical for a plug tray.

I was told by experienced wintersowers to avoid sowing in narrow containers, because they dry out so quickly in the spring, especially when we get our occasional early spring heat. They told me even a 16 oz water bottle would dry out much faster than a gallon jug. For the smaller containers, I was told to put them inside a bigger pan (like a lasagna pan or a clear tupperware bin with drain holes) to prevent drying out while still letting excess water drain.

I ran out of plastic bottles, so I got aluminum lasagna and bread pans with plastic dome covers at Safeway. They're reusable, already covered, cheaper, and less likely to dry out than plug trays.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

We are running 42F now, and it was 52F a little earlier. The pond has a big open spot and I can see my fish. It won't last but it seems so springy. Shirtsleeve weather for us.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Good Morning Oberon46 and SSgardener!
SS, you are correct. I was trying to imagine how to protect the plants from the extremes of weather with the small amount of soil in each plug. I also was trying to figure out how to keep the roots separate from each other to avoid disturbing roots too much when it comes time to transplant.

This morning I think I lucked in! I came across some styrophoam containers, and I think that using sand to mix the smaller seeds and sprinkling them over the top of the soil will work just fine.
55 degrees shirtsleeve weather? Oberon, clearly, I'm just not that hardy:)
OK, I'm off to set up outside!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Well, with the sun shining and all.... course, I didn't say how long I stayed out there. :)

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Hiya Ladies! (and gentlemen, if I missed any). :) Marlene (gosh I love your name, it's my Mother in Law's name and she is the bestest!!), and SSgardener, I'm just around the beltway south of you two, how cool is that!?

I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly Marlene, but I think it sounds like what you are trying to do is protect your seeds/new babies from the harsh and cold environment of winter, yes? No? See, the thing is, about Winter Sowing, you actually *want* to expose that soil that the seeds are in to all the harsh cold of the Winter climate that you can. That's how nature intended it to be for so many seeds, they need the freezing cold, and then cold-thaw-cold-thaw back and forth in order to .... what's that word?... stratify. Exposure to the cold and freezing of Winter is necessary for many seeds to get started, so by protecting them you're actually doing more "harm", per se, than good. The main 3 things that Winter sowing containers (like milk jugs) do are: 1- protect seeds from predators or blowing away in the wind, 2- control moisture intake/output, 3- control heat/wind exposure come Spring, when it's "hardening off" time.... which ya don't have to do with Winter sowing because they grew up outside so they're already hardened off! =)

I hope that all makes sense and is of some help to you! Oh yeah, and I totally agree with what Ssgardener says about smaller containers for Winter sowing. My first year of WS'ing I used oooooodles of 20-ounce water bottles, and they were such a pain to keep moist enough, they're just too darned small!! Never again with those things, from now on the smallest container I will use is the half-gallon sized milk jug.

Oberon, that sounds like my kind of weather! =)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Hello neighbor! :-)

A fellow DGer from Silver Spring showed me how to wintersow. I'm so grateful! What fun!

Do you ever go to Mid Atlantic plant/seed swaps? The next one's in May. Check out the Mid-At forums for details or you can feel free to Dmail me.

I have some smaller containers, but they're all in bigger containers for moisture retention. I was warned multiple times by veterans like you! :-)

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

And a Howdy Neighbor to you too! :)

I wish someone had warned me about the small containers and WS'ing, but learning the hard way can be a good thing, at least for me. Stuff I learn the hard way I tend *not* to forget... ever. On the plus side though, all those water bottles are the ones in which I'd sown my bachellor buttons, and even though they were a pain, they ended up producing loads of viable babies which ended up self-sowing very nicely the next year. I wouldn't call myself a 'veteran' by any stretch of the imagination, but I did start my gardening 'career' with WS'ing, so I really paid attention to a lot of stuff, especially what works in our zone. Rule #1: Mimic Mother Nature as closely as possible (while simply protecting those hard-won little babies).

I sure hope I'll be able to attend the seed/plant swap in May. That's a busy time at work, but hopefully I'll be able to get the Boss Lady to finagle the schedule so that I can have that day off! =)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Why Oh Why?
Did I go to the HD today? There I spied the inexpensive greenhouse ($99.00) of my dreams. I'll bet it would make WSing an even more joyful experience!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Haha Marlene, congratulations! HD is a dangerous place ;-)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

What did that greenhouse look like? If it's what I'm thinking about, my friend has one of them and she starts her seeds in those Jiffy things that look like a donut and you soak it to get it to open up. Marlene..surely you can raid some neighbor's recycle bin for milk jugs or juice jugs or even the deep deli containers, or like SSGardener said..she got some lasagna or loaf pans with a plastic cover at the store today..better yet, hit the $ store, they are cheaper there.

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