Hi all, I tried wintersowing last year with great success and I'm hooked of course.
As program coordinator for our garden club I've been trying to locate someone to speak on winter sowing at our January meeting, as the timing is right that people can try it if we peek their interest. I can't find anyone, even the master gardeners I talked to have not heard of winter sowing in containers. Anyway, now I'm considering doing a presentation myself. Just a 'show & tell', as I'm not an expert and I don't particularly like public speaking either, but I just want to 'plant some seeds' so to speak (LOL) and maybe get some people excited about trying it.
Have any of you ever done a presentation or demo on winter sowing for your garden club or society? I'm wondering whether there are tips you could share with me, how much time I should allot, what works or doesn't work, what was well received, etc.
I was thinking about a short why/how/results, along with some handouts (very basic) referring them to some websites for more in depth explanations. I was also thinking about doing a demo to make it more interesting. Possibly bringing a clean milkjug for everyone and having them put the soil in, sow the seeds, label them, tape them up and they can take them home. Do you think it would work? Can you think of any other ways to have some interaction? We are a small (20 members) laid back group.
I'd really appreciate any suggestions or thoughts you could pass along.
I don't know about your gardening club but way back when>I was a member of many local garden clubs. I remember one in particular and that was the organic gardening club.. I remember lots and lots of talk about tomatos and such. I think you are on the right track with getting everyone a jug for themselves. I too never liked speaking in public so to speak. So I think you ought to get them into a small round table style group seating arrangement, so you don't feel overwhelmed speaking to a large audience. After all I am sure you are among friends with such a small group anyways. I would let them choose between say tomato seeds or a flower seed and get them started off. Who knows maybe you could get a little contest amongst them to see who grows out the best tomato or flower. Even better if they could bring their results, or photo's of results to the meeting later. So everyone can ooh and ahh over them. I think show and tell hands on involvement is the best way to teach most. If you just demonstrate it too them they don't really get it so to speak. In reality they are less likely to get around to trying it out for themselves to see how easy it truly is.. On the other hand getting them involved on a simple project of their own may have better, or should I say more addictive results. I have not put anything in the ground yet, and I am all ready addicted to it. If you don't have enough containers to go around you can always go to your local $1 store and pick up a box of ziplock baggies and there will be plenty of containers to go round. You might even do a quick demonstration of how to make your own paper pots for those seeds that do not care for transplanting as well. I wish I could be there to see the amazement in the simplicity of this gardening style. Because I know how many long time gardener's such as myself have never even heard of winter sowing! I think you will have a group of new winter sowing gardener's before you know it. You are doing a great thing introducing them all to winter sowing. With everything you don't need a lot of stuff just share your knowledge and ideas. For a future gardening club you might offer a seed swap where everyone brings their left over seeds from the year and swaps with each other...? Just a thought. Good luck on your adventure.
You have a great idea, there. I do a program each year for my garden club and this year I plan to include wintersowing. Many of my club members do not have the space in their homes for grow lights and stands so I believe this will be a welcome topic. Since there are close to 40 members and we have high attendance at our meetings, I will not plan to bring each one a container. I will have seed lists, wintersowing info and internet sources for their reference as well as examples of WSing containers. It's going to be fun.
Barb, I really like your suggestion of smaller tables and groups. I'm thinking hopefully I won't feel overwhelmed if I keep it as a recounting of my experience. As in 'this is how I did it', rather than 'this is how it is done'. You've given me lots of ideas and inspiration. I like the idea of having two choices of seeds. As for the milk jugs, I'm able to get them at the local convenience store as they take them back for recycling, but I'll definitely keep the ziplock bags idea as a backup. Thanks! I'm off to investigate how to make the paper pots. That might be a good quick demo to fill the time.
Digs, I can see how 40 members would be too many to do a workshop, alright. I didn't think of showing examples of the different containers. I'll definitely do that. Thanks!
I think it would be a wonderful idea to present wintersowing to your local gardening club. If possible, have a supply list ahead of time to let participants know what to bring to class, such as a rinsed out milk jug, pointed scissors, small bag of quality potting soil that would fill their container with 4" of good dirt, seeds that germinate easily such as Cosmos, Marigolds, or Zinnias, plus you'll need to explain the type of tape they will need to purchase & where to find it. You should have several 'paint pens' that are weather proof, sun proof and will not wear off for marking their containers. Twenty participants sounds like a good number or make it two groups of 10 each. Whatever you feel most comfortable with. The main thing is to impart this very successful way of sowing seeds and making it fun for everyone!
Trudi at http://www.wintersown.org would be an excellent resource who can give you lots of pointers when it comes to wintersowing in a group setting. She has done this type of demonstration successfully many, many times. Just send her an e-mail and you'll get lots of help.
Hi Shirley, I was thinking about bringing the supplies for everyone myself, so your list helped me check what I need to bring, and I think I may pre-drill the jugs in case of any scissor-stabbing incidents, lol. Thanks for the tip to email Trudi. I shall do that. I'd like to have an idea of how much time I should allot for this.
Hi, sanannie, I think your idea for a WS presentation is great.
It amazes me how many veteran gardeners have not heard of 'wintersowing' and it's such a neat way to expand your garden plant choices beyond the local nurseries! I wish I could attend. They will love it!
Good luck with it and be sure to tell us how it went!
Thanks, tabasco, yeah, nobody was more surprised than me that I couldn't find someone to do a presentation for our club among two master gardener groups in our area. They were interested in hearing about it though and said they would bring it up for discussion at their next meeting.
In the meantime, I guess I'll be the one to relate my wintersowing experience to our club. I'm a bit nervous about it but I hope my enthusiasm for WS will outshine the nerves.
The time allotment depends on how long you want to talk, number of people in attendance (I assume it will be only adults) and leave time for questions & answers. You need to factor in time for clean up at the end. I would think that 1.5 to 2 hrs. would be sufficient.
Personally, I think that participants would have more fun and learn more with a 'hands on' approach. I would give out a pre-printed list of supplies that each participant will need for the class. Otherwise, you will be dragging a lot of jugs, heavy bags of potting soil, utensils, tape, etc. with you. You might want to bring a few extras jugs & a small bag of soil - just in case, but otherwise I think that the people who have signed up for the class will be motivated enough to bring their own supplies. Poking some holes in a milk jug is quite easy. Again, that's something the participants can do.
Not everyone is an auditory learner. Some people learn through seeing & observing, but most people learn by doing ('hands on' approach). It's more fun to let each person do it for themselves, than to watch you do it for them. If they make a mistake, it's okay. It can be easily fixed.
Are you having them bring 1 empty milk container or will they have time to sow maybe 1 or 2 more jugs? Check out this page from Trudi's website. It might give you some new ideas. http://www.wintersown.org/wseo1/Solstice_Celebration.html Unless you are doing this demonstration/talk in the Spring, it's best to wait with sowing annuals until later.
Can I assume that they will be working at tables and all their supplies will be in front of them? In the case of any scissor-stabbing accidents...bring a few band aids with you. Also, you should have dark colored 'paint pens', in case anyone couldn't find them. Let them know that Sharpies don't work - they fade! Better to use a 'grease pencil' or 'china marker'. Otherwise, they will end up with 'mystery plants', but that sometimes happens. They're called 'happy accidents'.
OK, you talked me into definitely doing the demo! lol
I totally agree that people learn differently and I think they'll have more fun and get to take something home with them too.
I committed myself last night to do the presentation at the January 8th meeting. So... I don't have time to ask them to bring a list of items. I suppose I could phone everyone... but I'll ponder on that. I don't mind lugging stuff as it's only a one time thing and the club will reimburse me for the potting soil. If I had more lead time, it would be fun to do more than one container each as you suggest.
Thanks for the link, I've been reading the site and I've emailed Trudi to see whether I can use the info there in some handouts (as well as any tips she has).
I had a bit of exposure on the corporate (administrative side) on training and you reminded me of what they'd teach the trainers. I had totally forgot about that. But it's true! ... and I like the way you said those 3 simple steps, much more our laid back style. I'll definitely keep that in mind!
Hi Shirley, Yes, Trudi sent me a prompt reply with some good suggestions. As for time allotment, she said the concept is easy to explain so it can be done in one hour, but she prefers 2. I need to keep it under one hour due to time constraints with the meeting, so at least I have a bit of a benchmark now. She also suggested to bring lots of seed and have some helpers to help with the handouts and checking containers for soil height, sowing depth, etc.
A couple of things I would never have thought of was to have the members bottom-water their containers when they got home to avoid alot of mess and to bring plastic bags for them to easily take home their containers.
Glad that you got a wonderful & quick response from Trudi on all your questions! She's wonderful!
I didn't realize that you had a 1 hr time constraint. Maybe I missed that fact in an earlier post. Great idea to have some 'helpers', especially with carrying in the bags of soil, containers, etc. Good idea to bring some extra rulers so that your 'helpers' can measure that there is a minimum of 4" of soil in each container. It definitely occured to me that participants would need to water their containers at home. Otherwise, they would have a dripping container to put in their car...it would get rather messy. Lots of plastic bags at the check-out counters from grocery stores work really well. I have a sprayer on my kitchen sink that will not dislodge the seeds, if watered gently (another important point). I think most people have these with their kitchen sinks, don't they?
All your hard work before hand will make your wsing presentation run that much smoother. It pays to be prepared!
A couple of years ago our gardening group had a seed sowing event at the local Infants' School.
We took Compost, Sweet pea seeds (nice big seeds for little fingers), and lots of polystyrene cups to plant them in (we made the holes in the bottom first so no pointed implements were needed!). The tables were covered with plastic table cloths to make it easy to clean up. There were only two of us and the teacher organising it and about 30 six year olds. We gave a little talk about how the seeds germinate and what conditions they like, and then gave a demonstration and then let them plant their own with minimal assistance where necessary. The children loved it they put their names on their cups with marker pens, and all brought their plants to the allotment and planted them out when they had grown a couple of months later.
I should think 20 adults would be much easier to deal with. As it is just an example of what can be started off early on the window sill, small salad plants would be OK too, like mustard and cress, or a sprinkle of mixed lettuce seed. The lettuce can be sown all winter, and used as cut and come again, or transplanted into individual pots or the greenhouse border, or outside if your weather is warm enough.
Patbarr, sounds like the kiddies had a fun time. I'm going to keep things as light as possible, non technical. I thought I'd bring some of those light plastic gloves to save any manicures and I like your tip about covering the tables for easy cleanup.
Well, I thought you guys would be interested to know how the presentation went. It was a big success! I got so much positive feedback.
There were 19 people and we did a hands-on type workshop. I had a small window of time because we needed 1/2 the meeting to talk 'business' so I was a little rushed but it turned out well at 45 minutes, including the questions. Thank goodness I had prepared containers in advance with drainage holes and dampened soil. I brought 24 just in case, but I can use the leftovers! lol I put the containers in a plastic grocery bag, and inside the containers I put a plastic glove and the seeds. I made a handout to explain the procedure step by step so they could do more at home, so we went through that step by step (I had a few index cards to add a few comments as we went along). After an introduction, we talked about containers. I brought a bunch of different samples, both good and bad and I showed some pics of my own experience last year. I also brought along a few jugs so a few people tried out making drainage holes and cutting the tops off the milk jugs. There was some chuckles over who I would trust with the scissors, lol. Then everyone got to sow the seeds, make labels and tape up the milk jugs. Everyone had one to take home. I didn't have time to get into the details of types of seeds and germination preferences, but the other handout listed when to wintersow and briefly what type of seeds are good candidates and then listed a few websites to go for more info. Oh, yeah, I sowed a couple of extra 4L jugs with more 'special' perennials and had a draw for them at the end. They liked that too!
So all in all it was a very good experience and I'd encourage anyone thinking of doing a WS presentation to your own club to go for it. Not one of the 19 participants had even heard of winter sowing before (which helps remarkably with the nerves, let me tell you! LOL)
Thanks to you all for helping me along as I'd probably still be 'thinking about it' if it wasn't for your encouragement!
Congratulations on a very successful wintersowing demonstration! I knew you could do it!! Bet you'll have a lot of new people who will want to continue sowing their seeds via this method throughout the seasons. Well Done!!
Congrats Sanannie, Yes - I did one for the Des Moines garden club that I belong too- most of all the members (including a Master Gardener) had never heard of such a thing, it was well received & I still get questions from them & I'm sure I'll do it again for them. This year though I'll include picture's, and I love your "hands on" idea, this past summer(2006) we all got together & made cement trough's and cement leaves --- quite fun!
momof2d, I think the hands on part was what really engaged everyone. If I were to do it again, I'd double-bag the shopping bags or drain the containers for more than a couple of days beforehand, as they were still leaking a little with the handling.
I've been to a trough making workshop where they had a big cement mixer going. I think making cement leaves is a great idea for a workshop! Bet you had fun.
It is a lot of fun to teach--it is also a lot of prep work, but you come away from the event as enlightened and educated as the people you teach. For many years I served on a continuing education administration board-we hosted seminars that taught people to teach continuing ed, so from that experience I learned a lot about prep work and course proposals. But it is in the doing--the hands on teaching--where you really learn that the best part of teaching is what you yourself learn from the people you teach. I have alway come away from a class as a better person, I've picked up many small info bits, often not about gardening, but about how we live our lives.
Last month I taught at a new senior citizen enrichment program at a United Methodist Church, and before the class I was given a tour of the church and the history of that particular church, which is right next to the Episcopal Church in that town. Though I went to teach about WS, I learned about cooperation. The two churches had combined their senior groups to form the enrichment program. They had always been "secular silos" but created the program to interweave the congregations in beneficial purpose. Learning about two churches reaching out to each other for mutual enrichment through education was very moving. It was really a wonderful class. They asked watering and I explained about the mud and that I didn't want to dirty God's house and they all smiled. Afterwards we drank coffee and ate pecan pie, which was also wonderful.
Congrats again on your class, I hope you have many more. Don't be surprised if this class brings you invitations to teach elsewhere, that can happen!
Thanks, T. That's a nice story of the seniors merging together. The workshop was a lot of prep work but I was on a natural high the rest of the night. lol I learned that I needn't have been nervous! I don't know about 'teaching' elsewhere, though, might be different amongst strangers.
Teaching strangers is the same as teaching people you know--it's the same information. But you can get over the cautionary sensation by speaking on the phone a few times with the course administration, ask if you can drop by to visit the facility to see the set up. Say that you want to see how the room is arranged so you can make, if need be, suggestions for table placement, water usage, blackboards etc. Also, if you visit the education building before the class, you'll feel less nervous about driving to it--you'll know the way and will be less likely to get lost and late for the class. There's always things people have in common and you can quickly reach out and connect with the people in the room, you'll likely be introduced, or if you're introducing yourself comment about the weather or something pretty you saw along the way on your drive, or ask about the bushes outside the building, talk about the problems or ease with parking, whatever, etc. You can connect on being a human like everyone else in the room and that will start conversation that everyone feels comfy with.
Show and Tell is a great icebreaker--bring something from home that is a curiosity--it doesn't have to be garden related. This Christmas, Hubs gave me a toy kitten, it looks like its sleeping in a pet bed and when you flick on the switch the abdomen goes up and down to look like breathing and the tiny motor makes a sound similar to purring. I've brought that to a few meetings and everyone is simply charmed by it. Does it have anything to do with these meetings? No, but it makes everyone chuckle and smile and relax and that's what being comfortable is all about.
Great job, Sandy! I knew you'd be well received. I did a talk and demonstration to our local garden club in September on floral design using garden elements. Everyone was very attentive and wanted to take the examples home. Its a good feeling, contrats!