It has begun!

Clinton Township, MI(Zone 6a)

OK! It was a long day yesterday. I started by spreading out two old shower curtains as my work space on the floor. Opened my first bag of potting soil and realized I wasn't satisfied with its consistency for starting seeds. It was just a little too chunky (that's what I get for buying the cheaper stuff!) so I headed out to pick up some Miracle Grow which I know is light and fine enough.

Began filling the jugs with the chunky cheap stuff on bottom and topped off with the Miracle Grow. After I had all the jugs filled I took them to the sink where I have a nice spray attachment to water them down. I quickly realized the soil level dropped quite a bit after watering. So I went back and put more soil in all the jugs. Wish I would have watered one or two before I did that! Then I had too much soil in the jugs! Took some out of all! Wow this is a learning experience. It takes a good chunk of time to water 67 jugs!

After I had all the jugs watered I let them sit for an hour to let excess water drain out, and take a break to go for a walk since it was almost 60 out!

Ok time to sow! I used my brand new paint pens and made a label to go inside each jug as well as writting all over the outside of each jug. Gee, wish I would have read about numbering the containers BEFORE I did this. Next year when I reuse my containers I will go to a numbering system and hopefully ignore the writting all over them! LOL. But at least I know before I WS annuals in Feb or March.

For some reason I picked almost all the smallest seeds! My eyes were crossing. After I sowed each jug I punched my two tie holes and closed by threading a piece of yarn. Not ideal but I didn't have any twist ties. I will switch out the yarn after I need to open and close the jugs regularly.

I had one accident where something made me jerk and suddenly there were no Astilbe seeds left in the envelope (the absolute worst tiniest seeds!!). I took my fingers and dragged them across where I thought they might be and then rubbed my fingers in the dirt. Well, I might get something to grow! No biggie as my mom is growing some of most all I have so maybe I can get some back from her.

I put my finished jugs into black crates and set them out. I found out just before I was going to bed that we were supposed to get A LOT of rain overnight and all day today. So I covered the crates with the plastic shower curtains so I don't flood out all my hard work. I'll take the plastic off tomorrow morning.

I didn't finish sowing until 9:30 last night! It ended up being 42 different perennials in 54 jugs. YES I am CRAZY!! I still have some hollyhocks I want to do today but I want to do those individually in coir pots placed in gallons since I haven't had success moving them as seedlings. AND my mom still has probably 60 varieties of seeds yet to send to me. At least some of that will be direct sow annuals. Still much more work ahead. But I do have a system now so it should go a lot faster next go round.

I have everyone at work saving jugs for me and some neighbors. Think I will have enough grown to give back to them for their donations? LOL!!!

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Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Thank you for the post. Every year I say I am going to winter sow and every year I don't do it. Think I will give it a try this year after reading this.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

"I didn't finish sowing until 9:30 last night! It ended up being 42 different perennials in 54 jugs. YES I am CRAZY!!"

Oh honey, you have lots and lots of company!!! I can't wintersow, I'm too far away from my house until spring, but I've got my own thing going inside on a city windowsill. But just wait until the dedicated WS-ers start chiming in here! I love your Astilbe story... Also fussing with the seed mix, I do that too, and going cross-eyed over those itty bitty dust specks that will (fingers crossed) become gorgeous perennials one day. And don't you just loooove how the weather surprises us? Just one more little challenge to keep us from getting too complacent ;-)

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Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Nice setup you have Pfg.

Clinton Township, MI(Zone 6a)

Happygarden you are welcome. I for years wanted to try this but never got around to it. I couldn't do it last year because we moved and we had too much to do working on the house (as you can see in pics this room is still under construction). I hope you are able to give it a try.

Pfg, great set up! My mom has grown that way for years! We would joke that the DEA was going to come for her mistakenly! Up until last year I didn't have room for a light grow system. Now that I have the room my husband doesn't want to pay for the lights. Which is fine with me, as long as this winter sowing system works! Husband does have to put up with shelves in the windows in March though, when I bring my geraniums out from the crawl space and pot them up.

Eventually I will get a small greenhouse, someday.....

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Thanks, It works. Can't wait to see all your results!

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I like the idea of coir pots nested in the gal. jugs--I'm betting something I want to try is fussy about transplanting so I'll keep that in mind...also since I have a boat load (to me) of cow pots to use up:lol:

Looks great and can't wait to hear updates:)

the Mountains, CO(Zone 4a)

I'm so intrigued by this 'winter sowing' idea.
Enjoyed reading your story. Don't worry, I'm a little crazy too.
I've been collecting seeds from 100's of species and at one time
plan to go insane with it too and just PLANT THEM ALL like an evil genius! Mwahahaha.

Ha, have fun and keep us updated on the germination process!

Clinton Township, MI(Zone 6a)

My neighbors keep asking me where I'm going to put all the grown plants. LOL. I told them each year a section of my lawn is going to disappear. They think I'm kidding!

But it is my hope to give away lots of plants too.

Brigham City, UT(Zone 5b)

I can't believe the green grass I saw in one of your pictures. I love your thread and smile at what I have done exactly as you have. I am glad that seeds are so forgiving and grow in spite of what I do.
I have over a foot of snow and ice crystals are coming down right now. It is only 13 degrees outside and has been getting down to nearly 0 degrees F. It is bone chilling cold here.
I gave a demonstration on wintersowing to my garden club last Tuesday. Most of the members are much older than I, and I am not any spring chicken. They loved it and each went home with a wintersown gallon. I need to do mine today. I am only going to do 50 or so. I really don't have that many places to put them. I also give many away. Last year I had great success on the few that I did.
Wish me luck - especially putting them out in the frigid cold.

Clinton Township, MI(Zone 6a)

MyRee, we just lost all our snow cover. We had several days in high 30s and two days in high 50s. It was actually kind of ironic winter sowing in the den with the sliding glass door open! But it is back to cold now.

I sure hope the seeds grow! I am filled with hope. I have to admit I will be a bit crushed if it doesn't work. But I figured something had to grow out of that many jugs!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Might I make one tiny little suggestion please? Don't cover up the jugs when "inclement" weather is called for. The small openings at the tops of the jugs will prevent the seeds from getting "washed away", but allow much needed moisture in, so by all means, leave them open! Think of it this way... if those seeds had been dropped by flowers out in the wild, they would get all that wonderful rain-water/ice/snow etc. What the jugs do is PREVENT catastrophes, like washing-away, critters eating, and stuff like that. Absolutely leave them uncovered and let nature have her way. =)

Meanwhile, how ya feeling? Like ya just hauled a truck up a mountain with your bare hands? < =D Feels great, huh?? All your hard work looks absolutely wonderful! Now, BRING ON THE WINTER, WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!! =)

Clinton Township, MI(Zone 6a)

I don't plan on covering them again. I just wanted to do it out of the gate because they were already plenty wet and we were supposed to get A LOT of rain.

I actually feel energized! Looking forward to doing more very soon!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

It's super exciting, huh? You're making me wish I were winter sowing again this year, but there's just no way, I've got waayyy too much on my plate this winter (I'll be heading in to put the second coat of paint on that bathroom as soon as my clothes are dry), and before I know it, school will be starting, then work will start, then I REALLY won't have time to keep up!

Well, I shall live vicariously through your fun instead, if'n ya don't mind. =)
So, what'cha gonna do next??

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Jvw eventually I hope to have a greenhouse also. But until then I will try ws. Hope I hVe good success. I will start this weekend.

Thanks for all the tips and suggestions everyone

Royal Oak, MI(Zone 6a)

Jvw, I'm glad you've been asking all these questions. I may finally WS this year! Stopped by HD and Lowe's today but only found potting mix with feed already mix in it, so I need to look some more. I also hope to start this weekend =)

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Eleven, in the absense of a pre-made potting mix, here's an option to mix your own. (I never buy pre-made mixes, I always mix my own). All "measurements" are approximate, by the way... I just go by look and feel.

1.5 parts compost
1 part Peat
1 part Perlite (or Vermiculite)
1 part pine fines

Combine it all really well... Personally, I dump it all into my wheelbarrow, then dig in up to my elbows and mix it by hands. ;) (how I ever get under my fingernails clean is a complete mystery to me!)

Clinton Township, MI(Zone 6a)

Well, the potting mix I am using already has feed in it. It was all I could get this time of year also, so that is what I'm going with! Now I know to plan ahead in summer and have materials on hand for winter to make my own mix next time.

I would recommend two old threads here to anyone starting for the first time. They are "What I would do different" or something like that. There is a part one and a part two. I found them particularly helpful.

In about two weeks I will have my second round of seeds from my mom. I am starting to panic because my jug donations from work have really slowed down. Looks like I will have to troll the recyling bins next week to get what I need for that round!

Columbus, OH

I planted most of mine this week. I use flats, unlike everyone else, they appeal to my ocd sense of order.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Celene, do you have pics to share please? I'd love to see how you keep your flats semi-covered for outdoors.

Thanks! =)

Columbus, OH

I just use the clear lids that come with the flats, and I stack them up in those green 4-shelf greenhouses from Lowe's, the ones that are about 5' tall and vaguely house-shaped? I'll take pics in a bit for you. I had a lot of wildlife and dog activity with the jugs. I also use four Avery peelable labels on one long side of the flat as "hinges" so the lids stay pretty much in place. The first year I used flats, I taped the "hinges" with packing tape, and it left goop all over the flats. The only down side to the flats is that as it nears planting time, you may need to water them 2-3 times a day if you have fast growing seedlings.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Aaaah, they come with lids, how very helpful! =) Hmmmm, I wonder... would you be able to line up the top and bottom, punch a hole through them together, then use a twisty tie to create a 'hinge'? Or maybe in 2 spots along a long side, like this: __o__o__

So, you stack them on top of each other? Do they still get good enough exposure to the elements when stacked? Ya know, rain/snow/sunshine/air-flow etc. Or, did I mis-understand you?

Columbus, OH

I don't stack them on top of each other, one flat per shelf, with a little room for pots on the end (bulbs, etc) Each shelf has a good 12" for plant growth.

I sometimes use paper pots on the regular old flats instead of inserts, for things that hate transplanting, like poppies or dill.

I also learned my lesson last year...most of the time I have a good idea of the growth habits of what I plant. If I even THINK I won't remember how tall a plant grows, I note it on the stake.

This message was edited Jan 28, 2013 12:21 AM

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh, OK, I did misunderstand what you'd written, my apologies. That makes perfect sense though. Heh heh, and you are waaayyy ahead of me, I always think to myself "Oh, I'll remember that."... famous last words! HA!

So, how many have you got sown so far? And, more importantly, are you having fun!? =)

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

This weekend I helped my DD winter sow for the first time. I've never done it before, but I do 'spring sow' as soon as we re-open the house at the end of March. It's not early enough for the tougher perennials but works really well on lots of things. We used plastic sweater boxes, made the holes with a soldering iron. We filled Solo cups 4" with pro mix, covered the bigger seeds with 1/4" of soil and the small ones with a sprinkling of vermiculite. The soil was moistened with 10:1 water: peroxide with a drop or two of Superthrive.

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Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

What a pretty array of soon-to-be new babies Pfg!! =)
Considering where you live, I would venture to guess your method would work well with LOTS of different seeds. Yippeeee!! =)

Columbus, OH

I am not sure how many things I've sown. I planted some small allium bulbs in peat pots, and a whole flat of nothing but spring veg and greens. Two other flats of assorted stuff, and I have some that I'll sow in March indoors, it's just too cold here tomatoes, peppers, basil, and some tropicals to do well by wintersowing. At least for me.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Some tropicals, really? How cool!!
I've got some basil over-wintering in my basement at the moment.. so far so good. :)

Brigham City, UT(Zone 5b)

Pfg, those look wonderful - especially without snow on them. Everyone is doing great! I have had 4 days off and have done practically nothing. I am so sick of this weather. (Glad for the moisture though.
We have gotten another foot of snow. I can't believe how high the piles of snow are by the driveways. It just keeps coming. (At least it blew the smog and fog away.) My hair had icesicles in it by the time I got through shoveling snow.
My gallons are completely covered with snow. I have many more that I want to start. I couldn't resist ordering more seeds, they should get here this week. My sweetie just laughs at me. I have many to many already. He asks why I need more. I asked him why he needs another science fiction book, they are all the same to me. The seeds may be of a same variety, just not that exact size or color or smell. Science fiction books and movies are about the same to me. He then understood.
I started some pansies under lights, I needed to get them started so they will bloom before the hot weather gets here. I have over 3 dozen that have sprouted so far. That makes me excited.

I have had 2 friends ask me to come to their club and teach them how to do wintersowing. That will be fun also.

Have fun and stay warm.

Marie

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh how cool, you get to go teach others about winter sowing, that sounds like so much fun! WooHoo, go Marie!!

Errr, uuhhh, I think I need to go hide my sci-fi books now. < ;) heeheeheee

Brigham City, UT(Zone 5b)

Do you want any more SIFI books? My house is full of them. To each our own. I got my seed packets today. I am so excited. One more day of work then I am off for a few. Wintersowing here I come.
I love the heeheeheee. Reminds me of my daughter in law.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh goodness, no, but thank you MyRee, I have no idea where I would put any more books. (I think that's why DH got me a Kindle a few years ago). ;) A couple weeks ago I finally got my book shelves all cleared/cleaned/organized to make room for school. Now there is only room for school stuffs... and maybe not enough even. < =/

Ya know, I actually say "heeheeheee" when I giggle. I can't seem to help it! DH pokes (gentle) fun at me when I do. =)

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

How is everyone's sowing going?
No snow here, we are still in a major drought since early LAST 2012....
I am worried about my old hostas that the trees are sucking every ounce of moisture. Can't water cause everything is frozen.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh gosh Happ, I would GLADLY share some of our rain with you if I could!! I was out that way this past Summer visiting my Mom and flew in via the KC, MO airport. My goodness it was soooo dry!! It only rained one time when I was there, (in KS, by the way), and it didn't last nearly long enough. I feel so bad for all the farmers in that area, it's just heartbreaking. :(

All is well around here... damp and squishy when it's not frozen, but well. I do wish we'd get more snow though, but first I wish it would be COLD ENOUGH for snow!

Well, break time is over, time for me to get my buns back to work. I think The List is finally shrinking! =)

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Cleared, organized how do you do that...rofl.
I thought I saw you land here in KC... ;)

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm a Polish MESS of a person, if I don't keep things organized I'd never be able to function! < =D

I waved at you from the plane, did you see!?!? < =)

I never should have opened my big mouth, now we've got a combo of rain/snow, and DH and I have some HD and Costco shopping to do!! =( (need stuff to accomplish more organizing, heeheeheee). ;)

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

Shopping for more stuff to help me....hummm I can understand that. I finally got rid of the organization books, weight loss books, budget books and I am sure there was something else...rofl... I thought at one time I should write a budget book that had one page.....STOP SPENDING MONEY ON THESE STUPID BOOKS.... ;)

Yeap I thought that was you when you came in and left KC...rofl.. You probably circled over my house, how did the garden look? Probably a lot better than it does at ground level. LOL

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Haahahahaaa, that's a GREAT budget book!! ... however, I'm afraid you wouldn't make any money on it. =(

Your garden looked wonderful of course, and LOVE the Begonias! < =D Heeheeheee

Kansas City (Joyce), MO(Zone 5a)

rofl....honestly you could see my big angel wing begonias under the porch? wowzer. Glad I wasn't outside in my nightgown!

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Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Heeheeheee, yeah it's a good thing.... though I wouldn't have teased ya about it, honest. ;)

Yep, those are the begonias I saw alright! < =D

Well, DH and I had a MASSIVELY productive weekend, Holy Moley!! Last-minute change of plans led us to Costco (instead of Home Depot), to buy all the stuff for basement organization (instead of buying the cabinets for the kitchen)... sometimes his "bright ideas" give me a backache! BUT... we bought the workbench, 2 shelving units, and about 40 gazillion storage containers. And we put that workbench together, darnit! < =/ ... Let me see if I can find a pic of it on Costco's website... Well, I can't find the exact one, but it's kinda sorta similar to this: http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=122389 (I found this on some random website which Norton says is safe to view).
The only differences between this one and ours are:
1 - Our "peg board" goes all the way down to the work top
2 - Ours has only 2 cabinets, at the same height but on either side of the table, not directly above it.
3 - Directly above the "peg board" is a shelf which spans the width of the table.

I'll get some pics of it when I can, it's really cool! =)
Now I need a vacation. ;)

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