This will be my second year of wintersowing and I enjoyed about a 50% success last winter. I wasn't sure if I would do it again, but of course, I am! LOL. Last year, I think I planted right around New Year's, but I'm holding off this year, due to the warm temps we've had. With weather in the 50s consistently, I was afraid to start things, for fear they'd germinate and then be lost when the really cold weather came. This is not normal weather for us, but there it is, just the same.
Am I right in waiting until it gets really cold before planting and setting them out?
This is my first year for winter sowing but I plan to plant out the things that need cold stratification or warm/cold/warm to germinate. There wouldn't be any fear of early germination due to the warmer temps and the seeds will still benefit from the fluctuating temps they need. Just my 2 cents.
kbaumle: I went ahead and sowed on New Year's. And it's been 70* here! I'd echo what Netwiz said. Couldn't hurt. Even if it's warm, the days are still short, nights are cool, and as long as the containers stay moist enough, you'll still have a head start on outside sowing. So, why not? Of course, I'm not anything near expert on this, since I'm totally new to this myself. So...for what it's worth? :)
I delayed sowing, but it sounds like you guys are going ahead and have good reason. I'll start setting up my containers.
The temperatures drop below at night, but are warm during the day. However, I have not see any plant break dormancy
yet. Day length must be more important then then the temperatures.
I am waiting till the end of Jan or beginning of Feb. That is when I planted last year and I had fantastic results. At least here we have our coldest weather in February and it is too warm to be winter now. So that is my 2 cents worth.
Have you noticed the thread about the seeds sprouting already? That scared me off for sure.
I'm in zone 5b like you, kbaumle, and I'm waiting. Last year I had a 90% success rate in totally different weather of course LOL. The main reason I'm waiting is because we are excessively warm right now and can get some really nasty cold and dry weather in February. I don't know if 3 weeks of 50s and then temps near 0 for a while are going to do it for my seeds. What I'm waiting for is the night time temps to get below freezing (amazing I am saying that in January here!) and then I'll start sowing. I'm not a scientist or even a very experienced winter sower so I don't know that you should take what I say very seriously LOL.
In going thru my notes for last year, I saw that I didn't even start until January 19th and it all worked out fine. I did sow 4 containers last weekend just to see what happens but I only did partial seed packets so I could sow the same seeds later for comparison.
Since I seem to be the only one waiting, I might go ahead and do some sowing today. :)
Most of my perennial seeds will wait until Feb. The only things I have sown so far are things such as hellebores, checkered lily, trillium and cimiciguga to name a few that need warm/cold/warm. The jugs are in my laundry room for the warm period and will be put outside in late Jan. In mid Jan. I will sow the perennials that need cold stratification and are known for long germination times such as clematis and columbine. Everything else will wait until Feb. to make sure winter has truly arrived.
It really helps to see what others are planning and takes some of the guessing out of it. Thanks!
This winter is truly remarkably warm even though the water outside freezes each morning.
Now that I see a camp of more experienced waiters :), I am inclined to wait on some seeds.
I have a large bag of seeds to handle so it'll probably going to take me until Feb to do them
all at 5 a weekend. I'll sort them out and start with hellebores then. ... and keep checking
what others do. I love DG for that!
I haven't started yet. I was just outside playing in the dirt and it must be 50 degrees out there. Warm and sunny. Ten day forecast is for 40s to 50s daytime, 30s and 40s at night. No below freezing temps, even at night.
Now that the holidays are over I can give some thought to WS. First I guess I need to get organized and decide what to plant this year. I still need to look up germination requirements for a lot of them. I might start some HPs soon.
This is a very interesting discussion & I would like to add a few things to consider.
What type of seeds are you sowing now? Trees, hardy shrubs, perennials, cold loving vegetables
Location for wintersown containers:
(East): Morning sun is preferrable
(North): Least amount of sun : Your seeds will not get cooked, but they will take longer to germinate
(West) Afternoon sun : Protect your containers by placing them under a bush or chair to help protect them
(South) Sun: Hot, Hot, Hot!
What type of seeds need stratification http://davesgarden.com/terms/go/878/ and must have fluctuation of temperatures for this to occur. This is NOT a complete list. There are a lot more that I haven't thought of, so please feel free to add to it. By the way, I have not sown all these seeds.
Clematis (multiple seasons)
Cyclamen (warm, cold, warm)
Helleborus (multiple seasons)
Shirley: You seem to know a lot so I hope you can help me out with a question about stratification and temperature fluctuation. Is there a difference between wild and prolonged temperature changes and the more ordinary several day type changes that we usually get here in my area? I probably would have done more containers by now if it was only several days of warm followed by more normal temps. My thinking (and I could be way wrong) was that we have been in the 50s for so long when we are usually in the 20s and 30s that it kind of cancels out normal temperature fluctuation. Also, if we didn't usually get some really nasty February weather I probably wouldn't care so much about the temps now. Does this make sense?
I like your list of seeds and think that those seeds requiring long and multiple temperature fluctuations would probably be OK in my area right now, but of course I am not sowing any of those this year LOL.
Shirley: No, I wasn't referring to global warming, I just meant that we have been 20 to 30 degrees above normal for several weeks now, not just for a day or two. That's a good point about the length of day and the change in nightime temps. Probably why I initially said that I was waiting for nightime temps to get below freezing without realizing why I thought that. 50s in the day and 40 at night doesn't seem like much of a temperature change to me but as you also pointed out, day length is also a factor. Now I see why 50 degrees during a 14 hour sunlight day in April is different than the same temp for several hours in a 10 hour day in January.
The 4 containers I did plant are close to the house on an eastern exposure. Since the sun is at a very different angle now than it will be several months from now, they do not get much direct sun. That is in my favor right now, too.
I agree with you arachide about this being an interesting topic. I read about wintersowing after it was too late to sow last year. I like it because it does stretch out the growing season. I repotted some indoor plants last week and loved having my hands in the dirt again. My husband and I inherited a large growing table recently from his home place. It is already sitting on front deck, but needs to be moved to the other end which will get more sun. That is where I plan to set the containers. I will probably need some sort of rock or something heave to sit in containers so they won't blow away. Can any of you think of what else I might use to make the containers heavier and less likely to blow over? Thanks.
Any ways, take care and have a wonderful day everyone.
It's been much warmer here then the norm. It's more like April weather. One of my lilacs has buds on it for crying out loud. Don't get me wrong personally I am enjoying the milder winter but I am afraid for my plants. I am assuming it will eventually hit and we will go down in temps. Normal for this time of the year is single digits or below zero especially at night. Yesterday it was nearly 50* but the last several nights we've had heavy frosts so maybe the warm front will end soon.
Last weekend I wintersowed some of my seeds and put them out. I did some poppies and some hollyhocks some foxglove, lupine, a few clematis seeds and a few other things. I have a lot more but am waiting to see what the extended forecast says this weekend.
The downloadable database has the following results for hollyhock
Hollyhock Alcea 9 Y
Hollyhock 3 Y
Hollyhock * 7 Y
Hollyhock All Alcea Rosea 5 Y
Hollyhock Red 6 N
Hollyhock All Alcea 8 N
Hollyhock All Alcea 8 Y
Hollyhock All Alcea 8 Y
Hollyhock All Alcea rosea 4 N
Hollyhock All Alcea rosea 6 Y
Hollyhock All Alcea rosea 6 Y
Hollyhock All Alcea Rosea 5 N
Hollyhock All 4 Y
Hollyhock Striped Malva sylvestris var. zebrina 6 Y
Hollyhocks Miniature sidealcea? 5 Y
It looks you should be able to do them in zone 4. Good luck!
I had pretty much decided to wait until I was convinced it was winter and not spring already! Also, I'm waiting until I'm done with my containers and I track down my seeds (again) LOL. I know some of you people have had your containers ready since frost, but tonight is I think the first time it will be below freezing, at least in a long time (I'm thinking November?). I can't remember what seeds I have - I know someone gave me a lot of zinnia seeds, and I bought 2K kinds of sweet pea seeds, but other than that I can't remember!
We're no longer whinning about a warm winter here anymore. It's cold. I'm not sure if it got above freezing or not yesterday, but it was windy and I heard that the windchill was 7 degrees. Looks like plenty of cold through the weekend. Now if we could just get some snow. All of this brown, dead stuff is depressing. White is so much better than brown.
It was just a few weeks ago when my DH and I were outside walking through the gardens and I said, "So, it's what...four months until things really start growing again?" and he laughed at me and said, "You're already counting down the days aren't you?"
I've got seeds that need cold stratification in the fridge, so they're ready to go... but I'm with those who are waiting for colder weather. If I sowed seeds and had them sprout in this oddly warm weather we've been having, I'm pretty sure that the seedlings would perish when cold weather descended on their tender little heads. A few truly tough ones might survive, but I want better odds than that! I know, I baby my seedlings too much... but it's what works for me. :-)
I just noticed a few little sprouts in three or four containers, we'll see how they survive when the weather gets freezing again. I just put out 6 more containers. With all this rain, at least I know they're moist enough.
Haven't started mine yet either...that tunnel is really cool! I think I may try to get some things out tomorrow before it gets too cold to get outside and play...I have a lot to sow, just no idea when to start or where to place them...Deb, do you think the sun on my Deck would be okay? It gets mostly afternoon sun...that way if we don't get enough rain they will be where I can water them too...hmmm...I just have no clue about this...LOL I think I am thinking too much and not DOING enough...
I am still trying to absord this new info. When you use gallon milk jugs do you cut them in half? Pot with Promix? Don't laugh LOL. I want to try some annuals and my tomatoes in containers this year for an earlier start.
bluegrassmom: If you leave a "hinge" where the handle is attached on the milk jug, it will be a lot easier to tape together after sowing your seeds. If you are planning to grow only annuals & tomatoes, you've got a while before you need to get started.
Yes, but lately Mother Earth doesn't seem much inclined toward cold weather... so my seeds are getting some of their winter cold in the fridge... If they'd sprouted earlier this month, I'm pretty sure few if any would still be around after the temperatures plunge next week. I'll winter sow when it actually feels like winter to me, LOL.
I still have a box full of seeds, plus I am expecting 4 mail orders soon. I'm waiting for Target to get their supply.I have no idea what I'm going to do with this stuff. I keep buying seeds. And I have little space left to plant. I see another lasagna garden in my near future.
Basically a lasagna garden is a bed/border which was prepared without digging into the soil. Using layers and layers (key word w/lasagna) of newspapers, cardboard (I used a few bags of soil too) and other composting material to build the undisturbed ground; then, come spring, you have a ready-made bed, with the help of earthworms of course. http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf582744.tip.html
cool, never heard of doing that, I have heard of raised beds, but I assume this is done so that it decomposes over the winter...really cool!!! I have some spots I can do that too...some really ugly spots now that will be beautiful come Spring! LOL Thanks Deb!
You're welcome, Janet. How do you think I got all those plants you gave me in the ground so fast! LOL
kbaumle, your inquiry about the weather has caused me to do some serious thinking about what I should start wsing in zone 8a. It has also given me the fever more so than at any other time since I started researching the whole wintersow concept. I've now prepared 20 jugs. Will water them tomorrow and let them drain over night before I sow. I also copied Trudi's site for the Zone 8 database. I've decided to go ahead and sow most if not all of these with perennials and I'll wait on the annuals to see if winter weather arrives in south Ga closer to February.
Good luck to you this year and hope your ws success rate keeps improving for '07.
JanetS: If you need new beds, lasagna gardening is the way to go. You just pile up organic materials and you end up with a bed of wonderful, black, compost-y soil. The worms love it. Just google "lasagna garden" and you will find tons of information about it and "recipes" for this wonderful lasagna.
I really want to start expanding my beds, and hope to do some in the spring. I just don't get enough materials to do it at this time of year.
I did add a big bed last year to accommodate my WS seedlings, but I filled it in no time.
Well, I would think a lot of things in the ground are sprouting too, I know they are here...so maybe they will be good...since they are somewhat protected too...in the jugs...I assume...from the winds etc...
Congratulations nikki on your wintersown sprouts! They will be fine!! A couple may be culled by Mother Nature, but the strongest & hardiest ones will live! I also have a couple of jugs that have sprouted too. I have lots of black Peony Poppy sprouts and one little itty bitty Helleborus, 'Gold Boullion' seedling. I think I'm going to start a new thread on seeds that have germinated, so it doesn't get buried to far down in a thread.
Cordeledawg: Don't bring your wintersown containers inside!! If you need to temporarily protect them from a storm, you can put them inside an unheated garage, greenhouse or shed. If you bring them inside, it may weaken their stems. That's one of the best things about wintersowing...ONLY the hardiest survive.
Thank you Shirley. I just needed some confidence building. Scared all my efforts are going to be in vain. I'm just going to bite the bullet and put some out there under a pinetree and hope for the best. Or at least that the best survive, Right.
Well, I am no longer waiting for it to get cold enough to do my wintersowing. It is -5º today. My list of things to wintersow is at 78 kinds at the moment. I haven't ordered them all yet so I may decide to eliminate a few.
Now for the lazy way of lasagna gardening. This is what I do. I cut the grass short, cover with several layers of newspaper, then put on a 3" layer of farmpost (manure and straw ground together and aged).
That is it.
I have been known to plant the same day. All you need to do is move the farmpost, cut through the newspaper, plant and tuck the newspaper and farmpost back around the plant and you have a new garden patch.
I like quick and easy. I started doing this 6 years ago and wouldn't start a new garden any other way. It is very easy to keep it weed free, the only weeds you get are the ones from seeds that are blown in.
zen...I know what you mean about it being cold enough. Perhaps we complained too much about it being too warm. I had -13 a couple of hours ago. I think it's up to -10 now. I am dreading going out in it. But...the sun is shining and it is really beautiful.