This is my first year of winter sowing, so this may be a silly question, but ... why aren't we putting these seeds directly in the soil in our flower beds rather than fussing around with all these containers and debating whether to cover the containers or not? What are the benefits of going to the trouble of sewing the seeds in these containers and then putting the containers outside?
Well, I'm no expert, but...
Gardening is all about improving the odds for plants to survive and flourish. In nature, plants produce gazillions of seeds because the chances that an individual seed will actually germinate, survive seedlinghood, and grow to become a mature plant, is really very small. Wintersowing in containers is simply a way of improving the odds for these seeds. Outside the containers, they will be subject to
-greater fluctuations of temperature and moisture
-animals that might like to eat them or just accidentally dig them up or stomp them as seedlings
-molds, slimes, etc.!
For me, I don't have time to do it in the fall during clean up time and they may germinate before winter and not make it through. My ground is too frozen to dig this time of year...and it's too cold to go out and see if it's soft enough to dig! :-(
I would love to be able to do it the way you were stating tho, YardenMan! We just discussed some of this on another thread here in the wsing forum. It was a lot about cloches and if they could be used over directly sowed seeds. Can't remember the name of the thread off hand, but I'll find it for you if you'd like.
For me in Maine our ground freezes solid like a rock pretty early (around Nov/December) and will remain that way until May. I have never been able to grow anything from seed as I always seem to get dampening off. I don't have the setup to have grow lights nor do I have the room in my mobile home to start everything I want to grow. Being able to play with the containers and sow something during the winter has helped with the winter depression I always get (due to not being able to garden) and it gives me something to look forward to in the spring. This is the first year that I winter sow and I have no idea if any will even germinate. I put in half of my seeds of each type and will direct sow the other half in May when I can work the soil and see if there is a difference. From what I understand, winter sown seedlings are much stronger and healthier than direct/lamp grown seedlings. That's what I need some hearty, healthy babies that WANT to survive and don't need to be babied in order to live. I have no idea what the turnout will be but it has been fun trying. It gives me something to trudge through the snow to check on and tend to even on the dreariest of winter days here in Maine.
I'm looking forward (hopefully) to having all those seedlings to play with as I can't afford to purchase flowers this year and am only going to do a couple large trades. It will be nice to say "I grew these from seed" and be able to still be planting and not paying *lol*. I mostly have sown different varieties of Columbine and a few other hardy perennials. Some that I will just direct sow (because it worked out great directly sowing last year) are my poppies and cleomes. Those did wonderful just scattering them where I wanted them at the beginning of May and poppies don't transplant well. My hardy perennials I am trying to winter sow (expecially those that need a year like Columbine and Hollyhocks). I add a few more containers here and there but am trying not to do too many the first year.
Yes Kim, good for you. It is true about being able to do 'something' in the winter. It gives a sense of hopefull expectation. I have had winter blues before, but not this year. :) Now I see it as the time to prepare for the grand show...
YES Anita! How could I overlook how cheap it is to do this!! And we will have loads of things they don't even carry at the garden center too. I just love it! As many seeds as i am sowing, there will not be a bare spot in any bed this year and i will still have plenty left over.
Something I just thought of too. When I water my established plants, I don't water them with a fine spray. Oh no, they get the soaker treatment *lol*. If I were to plant seeds where the mature plants are I know I would get carried away and would soak those babies to death. With the seeds in their own little containers I can "take it easier" on them more so than I would if they were in my regular beds. Not just that but with my memory I know I would either "weed" them or "soak" them so they stand a much better chance being in their own little beds *lol*.