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Out Of Containers :(

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Any ideas of what I can plant in? All the milk jugs, juice containers, take out trays, etc have been planted and are outside freezing. I've recruited a few friends to start saving for me again, but in the meantime I'd still like to be planting some things.

If I got some plastic cups do you think that heavy plastic wrap and a rubber band would work for a lid? How about the plastic you use to cover your windows in winter, or the plastic drop clothes for painting?

I can't think of any other containers off hand that are clear and cheap.....anyone have any ideas? The cups are small so I'm not crazy about that, but don't know what else there is I could use. I can't drill holes in the tupperware!!! but I did think of it!! LOL


Midland, TX(Zone 7b)

I know that this isn't exactly what you are supposed to do with winter sowing. I bought containers at the dollar store. I use these every year.

Corinth, NY(Zone 4b)

I have read where people use gallon freezer baggies. People really like it, and plant all of their winter sowing that way. They do the same things as containers, with the drainage, and vent. Them put them out. They are really cheap at the dollar store.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

I went to the dollar store, too, and got aluminum roasting pans (deep ones) and after planting I put them in big strong clear plastic bags from our produce market (heavier/bigger bags than Kroger uses). I planted two or three different seeds in different areas of each pan.) There are giant zip locs that will fit two big roasting pans or seed trays (found them at Walmart/Kroger)

I also got some clear plastic tarps (Big Lots) and spread them over my big window boxes (and tucked them under and anchored the plastic with tape).

I noticed in the Wintersown website there were pictures of planted pans in white plastic garbage bags. I wonder if that would work since I noticed many people plant in white plastic milk jugs anyway? Anyone know?

I wonder if plastic cups might be too small and fussy-- perhaps dry out too quickly-- depending on your level of attention and climate?

I also planted some seeds directly into my patio containers/pots and covered them with plastic. I tried different seed combinations with these--three different herbs in one pot, for example.

Someone also mentioned using the plastic cases that blankets and sheets are packed in as covers for pots and trays. Seems like if you made air holes and drainage holes those would work too. Any reports of that?

Good luck. t.

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

I am using a variety of containers. I haven't used my milk jugs yet. I bought containers from the salad bar, and although they are a little fragile, they seem to work. I bought two sizes of steam trays. I use the very big ones to hold styrafoam cups which have the vented sandwich bag over the top. I will cover the whole thing with vented plastic too. Plastic that pillows comes in is good too. Painters' drop cloths would be great. Of course you'd have to cut them up, so would shower liners from the dollar stores.

I forgot to put drain holes in one smaller steam tray, and I found the seeds floating around under the plasic. A few good vent holes solved that.

St. Peter's, PE(Zone 6a)

Many wsowers use yogurt containers, margarine containers, styrofoam cups, aluminium pans, ziploc containers etc. As long as you can get 4 inches of soil in the containers they will be fine. Clear containers are easier for monitoring condensation but the others will be ok as long as you keep an eye on them in Spring!

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

I've also used plastic containers from take out Chinese food! They have a clear plastic lid & I can just get about 4" of soil in the container. I sowed seeds that are very low growing. Don't forget to add a few polymer crystals into your potting soil if you don't have 4" of soil in your container. Otherwise the containers dry out to fast.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

I ordered two cases of Fiji water delivered to my house just because the bottles are my favorite for wintersowing. (I also like the water.)

Thumbnail by missgarney
Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Wowweee! Thanks for all the responses!! :~D

There's some great ideas! I do think the plastic cups would be too small for what I want...and for the amount of things I want to sow. I'd prolly end up with a 1000 of them all over the yard!

So, are y'all saying it's ok to use containers that are NOT clear? As long as you keep a real good eye on them come spring time and warmer temps? That would make this soooo much easier. I thought that if they weren't clear mabye they wouldn't get enough sunlight. I would cover solid-colored containers with clear plastic lids tho.

Thanks again, you've really helped!!

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Until my batches of winter greens are ready to eat, I buy those big deep rectangular (and clear) boxes of organic salad greens at Costco. They're made by Earthbound Farms, and they work very well.

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

I use something similar too Zep. I just can't get enough containers right now, lol.

I figure if I can use anything that's plastic, if it doesn't have to be clear, I should be able to collect enough and in enough time. I really thought I had enough saved...little did I know!!

I'm going to pick up some plastic drop clothes at the $ store for covers and use duct tape or rubber bands to hold them down. Anyone use rubber bands outside in winter? How long would they last? Maybe I should stick with tape (no pun intended). lol

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I believe that the container does not have to be clear, but the cover does. Also, if using something like a plastic bag or dropcloth as a cover, it should be clear plastic and be propped up sufficiently above the container that it will not come into contact with the soil or seeds if exposed to wind, rain, or snow. If you haven't already done so you can check out wintersown.org for more info on the subject.



Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

My containers are not clear, but they are BIG.. these are all potted with soil and seeds as of today :)

Good luck!


Thumbnail by soulgardenlove
Wichita, KS

newspaper pots, toilet paper/paper towel rolls - work great especially for those that don't like their roots disturbed

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

I do have the little thing to make newspaper pots, I just don't know if I have the time. I'll probably use it when I start my Morning Glories, but not for much more than that.

Susan, I did see your pots earlier and they did get me to thinking about the whole "clear" issue. (Please don't confuse that with thinking clearly. LOL)

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Good comment, Shirley, on using the moisture crystals with shallow containers. I'm sure that's the reason my salad bar containers worked OK last year!

All this talk of clear covers and how to hold them down over the containers made me wonder... Has anyone tried using Press 'n Seal wrap to cover WS containers? I'd probably back up the seal with a rubber band... but wondered.... since it's a little stiffer than plastic wrap, it'd be easier to pop a few holes in it.

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

I thought about using that stuff too, Critter. I decided against it only because it's more expensive than regular plastic wrap and I'd still have to use tape or a rubber band. But, maybe I'm just cheap.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

I don't know, I thought about it when I opened the kitchen drawer and saw it there, but I can't even get it to 'press 'n seal' normally, so I didn't think it would stick for a couple of months.

I gerry rigged plastic, and now I suppose I will have to make tents which I didn't do to begin with...

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

I'm not going to worry too much about tenting. Once the seeds sprout I plan on removing the covers. Unless I'm missing something. I'm only covering so the birds and other critters won't get to the seeds and so they won't wash away. Any reasons I've overlooked?

I'll make sure to leave enough room between soil and plastic lids for seedlings to grow a bit before they are uncovered.

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

that's a good question about the covering - I wondered if it also created a greenhouse effect in the container.

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

Okay yall, I think I've figure out why they should be covered in addition to the reasons stated.. The humidity stays more constant and the water does not escape as it would uncovered. I just realized this and even though I stated that I will leave mine uncovered, I will probably not be misting them on a daily basis and I want to make sure they do not dry out before germintaion, which would be death to them. I certainly will be making sure that the cover is off on a warm day, as I already know that folks that have already done this lose more to frying than cold... So I will keep a watchful eye on them.

Also, I have used the water polymers for retention and I have way over 4 inches of soil so that should help.. but the top where the seeds are will dry out first in my pots.


This message was edited Feb 17, 2006 9:02 AM

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Vented plastic wrap should work fine! You can always put more than one layer of plastic over the top of your container, if you think the plastic is too thin. Dry cleaner plastic bags work well that your garments are returned to you in.

Do note that rubber bands wear out and you need to check your containers on a regular basis. Replenish rubber bands as needed. Pony tail rubber bands seem to hold up better during the freezing & thawing period.

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Didn't think of ponytail holders, thanks. Have a bunch of extras since getting my hair all cut off...never could throw them away....I knew I'd have a use for them!

Yukon, OK(Zone 7b)

The gallon ziploc bags are great for this! Also my walmart has 2 gallon bags and now ziploc has those huge bags, but I've only used the gallon ones. It works great and is easy to do. There are pics on wintersown.org. I'm also using milk jugs and the kids old sleds. The sleds I poked holes in the bottom of and made the cover out of 1/2" hardware cloth covered with clear drop cloth/plastic. When it comes time to plant I just drag the sled to the bed and transplant. They are about 4-5 inches deep and I added water crystals to the potting mix.

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Keyi that sounds like a very doable job! I don't have any old sleds, but am wishing I did. I'm going to ask my niece and nephew if they have any old ones they haven't discarded yet. I love the idea of being able to drag the flowers thru the garden the most! No wheelbarrow!!

Yukon, OK(Zone 7b)

The sleds work great for me. I do wildflowers / annuals in them then just transplant clumps into bare spots in the garden. Then fill in the sled and plant again thru spring and early summer.

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

That's a very good idea. If I can come up with some sleds I'm going to try it. I may just look for some sleds on clearance too, for next year. Thanks for the great idea!

New York & Terrell, TX(Zone 8b)

This is a picture from wintersown.org; I hope it gives you an Idea of the baggie method.

~* Robin

Thumbnail by NatureWalker
Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Thanks Robin! I have seen the baggies on wintersown.org. They just still seem like they'd be small. I may pick some up at Wal-Mart tonight anyway and see how it works. Now that I know I can use other than clear containers it shouldn't take too long to gather up some more. I'm still planning on using drop cloth plastic or window covering plastic. If I learn any tricks while I'm working with it I'll let y'all know.

Quincy, MA(Zone 6b)

just when i was running out of WS containers this weekend,
my neighbor lady threw out 16 2-liter pepsi bottles ...
pepsi obviously being her sullen teenager's beverage of choice.


thanks, goth-boy!

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

LOL!! a soda drinking goth-boy... Just what a ws'er needs!!

Robin, that's a great little diagram there!


Moon Twp, PA(Zone 6a)

And DDs wondered why I supported their soda drinking habit this summer, I knew... ~ Suzi :)

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

"goth-boy" LOL

I picked up some 2.5 gallon zip top bags tonight. I didn't even know they made them that big! Yowie, what are you people storing out there????

I also got the plastic drop cloth, so I'm ready to be a sowin' again! Thanks so much for your help everyone.

Maybe I need to get me a goth-boy next door so I don't have these problems next year! LOL :)

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Just body parts, Heathrjoy, just body parts.

We've been living off the neighbors' habits too. Everything is starting to look like a possible w/s container to me. Old shower cap? hmmm

Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

A shower cap could make a good cover for a container!!

Norfolk, VA

I used cheap palstic cups and used the electric drill to punch drain holes through large stacks at a time. Yes the cups are small, but I put the seedlings in the ground before they out-grow them (i'm in zone 8a so it's not a problem.) Also, if you place the cups in shallow planting trays (the plastic ones with textured bottoms) it keeps them managable. I made a big cold frame with salvaged window sashes this year and I can't wait to see how it works out! I'm always finding old window frames on the side of the road...has anyone else had luck with them?

New York & Terrell, TX(Zone 8b)

Yes; I have. I found a nice sized "Picture Window" frame with the glass still inside it by the side of the road just yesterday along with some other window frames included!! What a find!

Sometimes someone elses "old junk" is just an unused palette in disguise.

~* Robin

Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

I saw a bunch too..but I've never used a cold frame before. Could you share pics of yours? Also - what do you use it for? The plants you have sown indoors?

New York & Terrell, TX(Zone 8b)


I can't help you with pictures, cause mine isn't contructed yet.... too darn cold & windy outside to do anything right now.

But here's a site to give you some ideas; make sure you scroll down the pages too, as some of their ideas have pdf files that you can save to review later on. Don't forget to bookmark the link!

This is a cold frame picture I saved to my files:

Thumbnail by NatureWalker
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

For an easy 'cold frame' you can get hay bales and place them in a square the size of your windows, put your seed flats and pots inside and put the window on top to 'protect' them. Then when the weather warms, lift up one side of the window and hold it up with a couple bricks to give them ventilation.

Not quite the same thing as the WSowing idea because natural moisture won't get in and you will have to watch over them closely.

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