I've never done wintersowing before. I did look through the original thread but didn't see the answer to my question, which is, can I put pots in a old plexi covered cold frame that has a large hole in the top? Should I cover the hole with tape and maybe just keep the top open?
I think the notion is to allow the rain to fall onto your plants. But are you planning to use regular pots? Many of us are using milk jugs (or the like) as pots, so that the sides and top of the jugs protect the plants, and the opening is small so not too much rain falls in to drown the plants.
If your cold frame has a hole, that still wouldn't allow all the plants to be watered (I would think), so you would need to provide supplemental water. If you keep the top open but don't protect the pots, that might result in a washout in the event of a rainstorm, plus your plants aren't protected from critters, slugs, etc. But might be worth a try.
I just planted my first 4 containers today and already learned a lesson :) Write on something white like a plant marker and stick it in the container. I wrote directly on the outside and once it was filled with soil I can't read it anymore!
Last time I did ws I wrote with permanent ink on the outside of the containers but found it wasn't so permanent. This year I am going to try little plastic bags with the plant written down on paper inside. Hopefully the plastic won't disintegrate.
Last year, I used a permanent Sharpie brand marker on my milk jugs and I simply numbered them, then lined them up in order. I kept my list of numbered jugs with the corresponding seeds planted in them in the house, and the numbers didn't even fade a whole lot. I'll be doing it the same way this year.
This is my first year WSing as well but found out the hard way to dry my hands in between seeding each jug. The seeds were sticking to my wet fingers and were very hard to sprinkle properly. Tamping down the seeds would get them wet again so I had to make sure I dried my hands each time.
I used a Sharpie which did not fade but my containers got only morning sun. The Sharpies did fade, though, on the in-ground markers during the summer. I'm trying a paint pen for that this year.
I'm making labels from my yogurt containers, which I haven't tried before. Not sure where i read that tip, maybe from someone here? They're too expensive to buy in the quantities I'll need, and the strips cut from yogurt containers seem like they will work.
I started two milk jugs on the 8th (close to 4" of Scott's potting soil). I put first a coffee stirrer down the middle, then sowed two rows on each side of it, each half of the jug having one kind of seed. So - two (future) flowers per jug. To mark them I used wide rubber bands around the pouring hole, like they come with broccoli, for instance. Then I made a Word Table like this (sorry, can't make a table here):
Container# 1 (pink rubber band)
Date Jan. 8
Description By handle of jug: Larkspur, To right of red straw: White Mallow
I will admit that I won't find enough colors of rubber bands, abut maybe as additional identification (e.g. #1, #2) I can use the position in the crate (bulb crates from Home Depot, found by DH some time ago).
I don't intend to sow as much as many of you brave souls, because of some unrelated gardening problems. I may do maybe ten jugs.
I also used a method similar to kbaumle and I did not have a problem with my marker fading (I do not know what brand). I did learn a lesson though...I thought that I was smart. I wrote the number on the jug in marker and pencil and I also wrote the plant name on a plastic knife stuck in the container. No way that I could end up with unlabeled containers that way!
Well that is what I thought. In the spring when I cut off the tops the numbers on the containers went with them. Now I was just down to the plastic knifes to mark my containers. Wouldn't you know that little kids have a knack for removing items like plastic utensils from containers of soil! I ended up with 4 containers of "mystery" plants.
This year I will: Mark the bottom of my containers as well!
Another thing I learned was how tricky it can be to identify plants by foliage alone. At one point I had "positively" identified one of the containers as Heliposis so I planted it accordingly. When it bloomed it looked just like Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium).
Rubberbands do worse than fade, they rot! They break down in the UV rays. Keep a bag of them in your coat pocket to take outside. When one breaks just slip a new one over the old one--they last about a month.
Even better, go through your gift wrap supplies and cut strips of curling ribbon to tie onto the jugs--that NEVER fades. Or go to the thrift store and buy a bag of leftover yarn balls--you'll have a lifetime supply of all the colors you'll need. I use curling ribbon and yarn often in the garden, especially early in the season when I'm getting plant stakes in place to use later on. When I put in stakes I tie some ribbon or yarn to them, enough to do a good job encircling a plant, later on, when the plants are bigger and need staking, those stakes are already there with the stings attached. It's a bit extra work early on but you'll be grateful for it later in the season.
Trudi's ideas probably work best of all. I've tried even indelible and permanent markers and they all faded. I cut up milk jugs last year for markers and I like them but - again - they faded. Perhaps the paint pens work - dunno.
I have to say - prefer cardboard ice cream cartons to the plastic milk jugs. A Breyers type container works well - easier to punch holes in the bottom. I cut the center out of the lid and use a piece of plastic wrap with holes in it to water the seedlings. The container is deep enough and you can easily see in, and lets sunlight in. And you can easily open and close them. I had a heck of a time with too few holes in the plastic jugs making the soil soggy. And making the holes was difficult and I didn't want to go out and buy a hot tool to do it.
alyrics: Just want to be sure what you meant when you wrote: "I had a heck of a time with too few holes in the plastic jugs making the soil soggy." I think you mean that you didn't have enough holes in your milk jugs, so your soil was too dry, and adding extra holes to fix the situation was a pain. Is that right?
I punched maybe 8 holes in the bottom of my plastic milk jugs and I used new Pro-Mix potting soil. I found that the soil didn't drain well in those jugs and the seedlings seemed overly wet so didn't develop good root systems.
Maybe it was the Pro-Mix, maybe it was poor drainage from the jugs. Not sure. Overly dry was not the problem - overly wet was the issue.
I think I liked being able to see my seedlings through the plastic wrap over the ice cream cartons. Its easy to replace also if you need to - but I did not.
I thought maybe the ice cream cartons would collapse by the spring but that didn't happen. Gee I sure sound pro- ice cream - but that can't be all bad.
I have a big question for y'all. I would like to start some trays of impatiens. I was told last yr by a garden center that they should be started in Jan or Feb because they take so long to germinate. Then I looked up growing instructions and they need high heat to germinate. And I know from having them self seed in my garden that I don't get volunteer impatiens till the end of summer. Has anyone ever tried wintersowing impatiens and which variety would be the hardiest to try it with? I do not want to set up lights and all that in the house
I can't imagine anyone having a hard time with milk jugs because the plastic is so soft. I use plain old cheapo scissors from the dollar store. If you need more drainage take a steak knife and stab a slit into the side.
I just got my hot pink duck tape and am going to try the paint markers I got from the Eon plant marker co-op and spray them with some clear spray paint before I start filling them. It's worth a shot anyhow=) I also have some leftover screen from replacing the front door screen so if I get carried away making the drainage holes too large I can just pop a piece of screen in the bottom to keep the soil in.
I just want to say as a for warning. If anyone decides that it would be a good idea to use a wood burning tool or other form of heat to melt holes into the plastic. DON'T. When the plastic burns it give off toxic fumes, your lungs will not like that at all, they may even be damaged.
As far as WSing, I have been using a few methods.
One is making flats of peat pots inside of foil roasting pans with slits on bottom and top. These flats are numered and documented on a tablet, each flat is also marked with little bamboo picks written on in pencil.
Here are about half of the flats on temporary tables under a tree between the out-shed, and the South side of the house..>
Then I am also using the baggie method...About 15 bags here, marked with name of plant, and dated. These are in my little pop-up GH for stratification. The flats outside on the tables that begin to sprout get to go in the GH too.
Thank you all, I am learning a lot from the 'lessons'!!
Must be the different brands of milk - our milk jugs are hard plastic and I couldn't even get a sharpened knife to hardly poke thru. I was concerned about slits not draining well enough. anyway - to each his own on the containers. My friend grew gorgeous dahlias in disposable foil containers slid into a re-closable baggie.
I also found that a great cover are the ziplock plastic bags that grapes come in, as they provide light and a covering, but also have plenty of holes in them.
Well, I started my WSing on Monday and have been doing a little each day.
I was wondering, I have a few different colors of Rose of Sharon, would it be okay to put these all in the same container? but seperated!
I used the wide craft sticks with each seed name and put them in side the containers and then wrote on the out side of each jug (w/paint marker) I also have a list of everything I am WSing on Word Doc. I highlight each one I have sown already.
Connie, that's what I was planning on doing. If I have something I only want a few of, but I have different varieties, or different colors, I'll put them in the same container, but divide it in half or quarters.
What was really nice was T's Flowers 'n Things sends plastic markers along when you buy seeds from them. All you have to do is write on them and you're good to go. I already had the paint pens.
I got my paint markers from our craft store and a few were sent to me from a couple of D gardeners as gifts... I love them... I bought some Plant Markers from the co-op to place in the garden beds, (once we get them in, in the spring). Once I have all my containers done I am going to start arranging what is to go where. lol
I have my seeds all sorted out for Jan, Feb and March sowing. I have been going thru the garden books my DH has bought me, I love the one on Michigans Native Plants and this last one he bought, it has all the perennails and annuals etc A thru Z all seperated and for each zone. Has alot of great designs in it to... It is really going to be interesting to see how all my garden beds turn out lol...
I am also going to be doing a garden bed (along with 4 Lg container pots) at our Church, I am also the assistant youth director & Jr class teacher. I thought since I was WSing anyway that I would have the kids do some too. Then set the jugs behind the Church where it gets the morning sun and shade in the afternoon, That way they can check on their plants each week and feel they have a part in the garden too :o) DH really liked the idea. Their ages range from 6 to15. It's going to be a very interesting project :o)
Karen, I just started gardening this past spring and tried some of those (didn't like them at all) and none of the seeds made it. I didn't soak the pots b4 using them (didn't know you were suppose to.) don't know if that would have made a difference or not, but I won't use them again.
I am trying different things to WS in, to see which I like the best.
Gallon & Half Gallon Jugs
Aluminum pans with the clear tops.
16/20 oz styrofoam cups (made little wire domes for them)
The Baggie method
And what ever else I get my hands on rofl
For our youth group at Church I will use the 1/2 gallon & gallon jugs.
Last yr my favorite container was the domed plastic pans that rotisserie chicken comes in at the grocery store. For things that can be planted out early like pansies or Johnny Jump Ups they worked great and gave lots of head room for the seedlings. they are way too shallow for most things though. I would use them for herbs also - like basil etc. Just sow thinly so the root systems aren't too crowded.
You have to get foil pans that are deep enough or it just won't work. - the seedlings roots get matted together and you have to pull them apart in chunks, Actually that was ok for some annuals - things like marigolds, etc.
I liked the large yogurt containers also - plenty of room for roots, and I cut out the center of the lids and put plastic wrap across them with holes in.
One thing that is different at my place is my seedlings are not in full sun, so I am always trying to increase the light to them so they aren't spindly.
It drove me crazy to have to keep unwrapping tape off the milk jugs and then try to re-tape it. But I know... lots of people love them.
Winter Sowing was developed on LI, which is known as the North of the South. LI is zone 7 with 8A microclimates. It gets really hot really fast in Spring and Winters are erratic, they could be mild or very VERY cold. I am WSing as usual and I expect the usual results.
I noticed some of you close your flaps with tape and consider it a pain to reopen and reclose the tape. My friend, Digsgardening, showed me her way of closing her flap on milk/water jugs. she just pokes one hole near the edge of the upper flap and one close to the edge of the lower flap and uses a twist tie to loop into the two holes to keep the flap-lid closed. It's easy to open and peek in. Also, there is semi-ventilation along the seams. I'm tieing mine down this way using Christmas ornament hangers. They bend well like a twist tie.
Thanks for the tip on using the ornament wires, Deb.
kbaumle and gram, I like to open mine to water them if it's a dry winter. But most importantly, they are so much easier to open when the time comes to plant in the spring. Last year I used duct tape and it was hard to get the containers open to plant the seedlings.
I open mine when it warm up in spring, so the babies don't fry. It can get way too warm for them contained in there. Once the weather warms I start with more holes, then open the top but keep attached in case of a deep freeze. Eventually I just discard the top half. It makes them a whole lot easier to care for.
gram - half the fun is looking at your babies all winter while the garden is brown! If they were all hidden except for peeking down the hole of a gallon milk jug I'd feel cheated. Especially when they are just germinating - nothing cuter than a pan of purple Opal Basil babies in early March. I did a lot of experimenting last year with watering with dilute H2O2. We also have really erratic weather in the spring - we are not considered safe to plant annuals and vegetables till the last week of May but the daytimes can hit the 70's in April and dip below freezing at night. If I have warm weather I need to open the lids for ventilation or move them a couple times a day. I can't see how you could water tiny seedlings thru the hole of a milk jug without smashing the ones right below the stream of water - maybe Trudi can tell us what she recommends. I learned that one quick and went to the Dollar Store and got some $1 plastic trays to place under the containers and watered from the bottom. - Easy to tip out and empty if its been rainy.
I also learned an important thing last yr - my first yr which I think has been mentioned - if not in this thread than in the Veg Forum but it might help someone to mention it again.
Wet your soil mix very thoroughly a day before sowing. If you don't, you could rinse the seeds off to the side of your container when you water for the first time - esp if using a soil-less mix like Pro-Mix that repels water initially. I had delphiniums growing up the sides of containers and none in the center - ditto for clumps of poppies that all washed over to the edges of the pan.
The dilute H2O2 solution was an interesting test. It is supposed to provide extra Oxygen to the roots. I believe it helps keep the soil sterile and fungus-free. Some plants really loved it like the dahlia seedlings which shot up every time I used it, others like poppies got scorched leaves and some died when exposed. There are a lot of threads from last yr on this and my personal take away was not to overdo a good thing. If a little is good, then leave well enough alone because more can kill them.
Maybe I just got lucky last year, because I never needed to water. Once it warmed up in the spring, I just took the duct tape off and the top stayed on because of the hinge, so if I needed to water or air them out by then, I could. Maybe this year will be different. And really, you can see the whole surface of what you've planted through that little hole. ;-)
I prefer bottom watering, too. When sowing I moisten immediately before sowing, enough for several containers, then I fill and sow. When the jug is complete, I bottom water to make certain that it is well saturated. I let drain for a little while, then place outside. When the containers are out there, I also prefer bottom watering. One overhead method that does work pretty well, though, is to use my 2 gallon pressure sprayer with the wand stuck into the top hole. I have also used a misting sprinkler attached to my garden hose, but that's messy and I always ended up getting a shower and getting cold and wet too.
I keep my containers on my patio where they get morning sun only. In spring they can get hot! I can't imagine leaving the lid on until plant out time. Maybe the difference is that I am zone 6, hot and humid Cincinnati.
Last year I used zip lock baggies with the zipper. I put a cloths pin to keep it partically (sp) open and as the weather warmed up I unzipped them a little at a time. I numbered and wrote the name of each one on the bag with a sharpie. I also kept a list of what the numbers were. I planted 32 bags and everyone of them sproted. Some of the names faded but the number stayed. They were covered with snow several times. The only ones I lost after planting them in the garden was my poppies. It was my first attempt and winter sowing and I was shocked at my sucess.
I haven't yet begun the winter sowing. It is on my list today to take some time and organize my seeds. I have a whole section of a very large cabinet pretty much filled with seeds that I have either ordered, saved from my garden last year, or had some wonderful other gardeners send me. Oh yeah, have also picked some up in stores when they were stocked.
We have a wedding in the family next Saturday the 27th and things are a bit hurried around here. All of my supplies are ready and waiting even though I need to buy more seed starting soil soon.
This will be first time for me and I am loking forward to doing it. Thank you all for suggestions and tips. i am glad that this forum is available.
Thanks All! I am soooo psyched to try WS for the first time!
I've ordered my seeds: Morning Glory "Choice Blend", Black-Eyed Susan Vine " Spanish Eyes", Caldndula "Zeolights", Cosmos "Candy Stripe", Forgett-Me-Nots "Spring and Summer", Marigold "Lemon/Tang Gem", Portulaca "Double Blend" and Sweet Pea "Singing the Blues."
The WS method...which appears to be to just let Mother Nature do her thing...sounds good to me. I will be eager to read everyones' reports. And an additional thanks to whomever provided the great excel spreadsheet template for tracking...:-))
Anyone have any experience with WS Impatiens? I have always bought flats of them which is so costly.
On someone's advice, last year I kept all of my containers in cardboard boxes with the tops cut off. It worked great! It kept them from tipping over, but most of all, when it came to watering, it held the water just long enough to bottom water. Then the excess water drained out. I could water with the hose on mist and fill the box with a higher spray. I think it helped keep the containers from drying out, too. Maybe because the containers were so close together? Plus, when I'm done with the cardboard, I use it under my mulch. I plan to do this every year now.
For markers, I use mini blinds, too. You can mark them with a regular number 2 pencil (although a softer lead writes darker) and it will last through winter. I've had them last through two winters...enough so I had to erase the pencil to re-use them.
Merryma, I learned something new from you today! I'll try the cardboard boxes. I've been pondering what to use to keep them from being tossed and knocked over by my dogs. For markers, I do use mini-blinds and also plastic forks and knives too. Haven't tried writting with pencil though. I've been using garden ink markers. I've listed my seeds I've wintersown in my journal and also a database I'm trying out on a trial run. http://davesgarden.com/journal/edit/viewbycat.php?catsort=name1&cat=45455 I'm writing the RID number on my containers too. Probably over-kill but I like keeping records anyway.
edit to say= when you click on the 'prepare to print' it prints out a nice list of all your seeds and notes. I fold the sheet and keep this in a ziplock bag with the reserve seeds. http://davesgarden.com/journal/edit/printbycat.php?cat=45455
It is probably overkill, but last year I wrote on the mini blind markers with paint marker on one side and pencil on the other. I then used them in the garden. So far the markings on both sides are still there. I wonder what spring will bring.
Dave you are soooooo organized! Can you come and help me?
merryma great idea witht he cardboard boxes!
I wanted to start winter sowing last year but didn't...toooooo chicken...lol! This year I'm am going to do it but since I live in the deepfreeze I'm going to wait closer to February. I already have a friend helping me save the 4 litre milk jugs. They go thru 4 jugs a week. That's alot of milk.
Dave, have you considered a twist-tie instead of tape? I know I'm pushing the twist-tie closure but golly-pete it works and costs alot less than tape. I'm using Christmas ornament hooks for twist-ties.
Well, my milk jugs are already taped but most of my containers are 2 liter soda bottles. I'm not sure the twist ties idea would work on them. What do you think?
I would also be concerned that up North your method would leave too much ventilation.
I had that same thought about the twist-ties. Even though my jugs are on the east side of a building, and out of the west wind, we do get some brutal north and east winds during the winter. Here again, I think, may be another difference in winter sowing in the north and winter sowing in the south. Arctic winds. Brrrrrrrrrrrr...
Karen, that's great. This is actually what I do with squeeze tubes of lotion, when they get down to the bottom. I cut them in half and then I can get the last bit of lotion out of them, then put the one end over the other. I don't even need to do the flap for those, but I love this idea for the 2-liters!
I just got 11 containers planted today. I use the same method with the 2 litre and it works great. I ended up stapling the the slit back together, one side ver the other so the top slipped back into the bottom more easily.
I would have done more but the rest of my containers are still outside with 3 feet of snow. While some of you are having a warmer winter we are having a cold winter this year. Usually the snow is all melted within 3 days and it's been 4 weeks! I think I may lose my zone 6 plants this year, we shall see.
Steve - I haven't had the need to tie the handles together to keep them from flying away. I do, on the other hand, use a piece of duct tape on the three cut sides. I learned my lesson to not go crazy with the tape as it can be difficult to get off come spring.
Anita: I had the same experience last year: I couldn't get the tape off in spring. I was lucky I didn't sever off any fingers when I finally sliced them open with a box cutter. This year, I'm using less tape!
How are you keeping weeds and moss down between your pavers? I am having a problem with a unilock brick walkway that was not laid on limestone grit - instead they put it on sand and now I'm getting all kinds of growth thru the cracks. If you pull it, the sand comes out and then the bricks shift. Can't go back - was installed by previous owners.
I pour boiling water on any that make it through. It kills the weeds and doesn't hurt the enviroment. I have also used white vinegar. It is amazing how well both work and I don't have to do it very often.
alyrics and zenpotter: Getting back to the weeds-between-pavers problem: my DH told me to tell you that if you put down a folded piece of cloth and then pour on the boiling water, it will do an even better job of killing the weed.
He found this interesting site: http://www.ghorganics.com/HotWeedKiller.htm
Also click on the link to "Weed control strategies" close to the top of the page, which talks about other methods too, although all of these are much larger than a few weeds between pavers.
You just made me remember something... oooops. I left some pottery planters outside and they would be quite frozen right now. They are filled with freesia - don't bother with trying that in zone 5 - and red poppies. we'll see how the poppies make it thru the winter. Grew them WS last year and had bunches of them. they did very well as WS seeds.
While doing a simple dinner yesterday, I said, oooooooh, this would probably work. I hope. The "homemade" store bought soup came in a container that I could envision containing seeds. So while the soup simmered, I got the bag of soil and some seeds :>) Will this work?
My other half has determined that I am now certifiable. All he hears now is "I can use that. Don't throw it out!! LOL
It's about 6 inches with ~3 1/2 inches of dirt. The rest is head room. I have it on the back deck which is protected from wind but gets no direct sun at this time of year. I don't know if that's a bad thing or good.
LOL...Venu209 - my DH hears the same thing. He's even shopping with containers in mind. We bought the big Organic Spring Salad Mix at the farmer's market Sunday because the container is a GREAT WS container.
I just have to get them out of the kitchen and to the workroom - he's pretty good about it now, even saving plastic bags that come on bread and veggies and stuff to make my greenhouse-tent thingies in place of baggies.
Re-use, recycle and get expensive plants for mere pennies - how can they not love our obsession?
Anita, I think aluminum or foil tape costs twice as much as duct tape. I noticed new transparent duct tape this year. The price was between the price of the other 2. I'm trying it and will let yoy know how it works (I'm hoping more sun and less mess than regular duct tape.)
alyrics, sorry I am late commenting on your question re the folded cloth when you pour hot vinegar on weeds. My DH (who told us about this) says it holds the heat in longer, that is the purpose, works better, I guess.
I have been going a little crazy with this wintersowing thing. I am making myself an Excel spreadsheet, with the seeds that I have and I am adding the info from TOMCLOTHIER.hort.net into it. I will compare what you all have sown when with what he says - and try to understand.
I am swinging from enthusiasm to despair. For instance, he says for sweet peas "sow @ 70ºF, first nick, sow in the dark , 10-20d" (I changed to word order for sorting purposes) but I know that some of you have already sown them. On the other hand, Malope triloba (white mallow) says: 'sow @ 39ºF, after 21 days, move to 65 to 75ºF , 14-30d', and I have already sown it and it has been freezing!. I know that TC's information is supposed to be a guideline on when to sow (I recently had a question about caryopteris and was advised to check TC)), but - frankly - I don't know how to apply it.
Or am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Someone recently said (I am sorry I don't remember who it was): We usually do our perennials first then hardy annuals, tender perennials and tender annuals last (closer to your last frost date). I guess the time for hardy perennials is here right now, for hardy annual it is right around the corner (a couple of weeks?), tender perennials perhaps in early March, and tender annuals perhaps end of March? Of course, I have already mixed mine up royally, amaranth done Jan 8, delphinium hybrida not yet, echinacea done this week.
So, how do you decide when to sow what? Surely you can't sow EVERYTHING right after the solstice (or in January)?
I am sorry if I am going round and round on this topic, but I am really uncertain about this.
Clementine, while you are waiting for someone who knows more than I do, I'll venture to answer. The complicated sets of directions are for traditional seed starting. One of the benefits of wintersowing is that you can skip chilling & nicking seeds because you are putting them outside in winter where nature takes care of those things.
Dave hit the nail on the head. About the only things that might pertain to WS:
1. light vs dark- bury the seed as opposed to surface sow.
2. Warm germination temp might indicate sowing a little later, cold a litter earlier in the season
3. plant out in sun vs shade.
4. ultimate height and spread tell you where to plant out
I pretty much just sow them, too. I'm shooting for perennials and HAs now, more tender stuff a little later. That's about it.
I figure mother nature just drops the seeds and they germinate at the right time, so I sow them all at the same time and let mother nature take her course.
Now that I say that it is time for me to stop thinking about it and get to work. My big seed order came yesterday so I got all of the tags ready and now it is time to sow.
Wow, I feel a lot better now. I am going right now to do two more jugs. Now I also understand about the caryopteris question I had. kbaumle, Dave, Karen and Pauline - thank you so much for setting my head straight. Now - once more - do you think I should re-sow annuals I sowed in early January (when it was much warmer and my fingers were itching to sow) if they are not hardy or half hardy, just because they would have been in the soil when it was colder than TC would indicate? Let me guess first: the answer will be "NO leave them".
Anyway, it IS fun, and I am learning something in this whole process. Pauline, you will be really busy today, how much did you get? I am expecting two smaller shipment very soon.
Clementine, No need to resow the annuals you have already sown unless you want double the amount of plants! They'll be fine and you'll have more than you know what to do with.
One thing I do when I gets seeds I am unfamiliar with is to look them up on the T&M website. www.thompson-morgaon.com If they say "greenhouse" or "GH" I sow them inside, otherwise out they go. You're looking for the terms "Hardy annual" or "Hardy perennial" to sow right now if you can swing it. I write the category right on my seed envelope so I know what kind of plant it is so I don't have to look it up a second time.
I believe another wintersower made the comment, "analysis by paralysis". It was a very cute statement...but true. All that information you are gathering applies to seeds sown indoors, not to wintersown ones. Wintersowing provides all your seeds with temperature fluctuation, nicking and providing the moisture. All you need to do is provide the containers, soil and seeds. Leave the rest to Mother Nature and enjoy.
I noticed last year that the germination dates ranged from 20 days to over 100 days and I varied my sowing date http://www.lakehousecreations.com/Seed_Sown_2006.htm . I would tend to guess that the ones that took longer to germinate, needed warmer conditions as opposed to the others. In other words, they sprouted when they were ready.
Yes, that's me: analyzing everything to death. Shirley, you have figured me out (somewhat).
I also look a lot at the T&M site (esp. for seeds from Valueseeds!), and - get this Shirley - I copy out the information into my spreadsheet. You see, I have never grown perennials or shrubs, I only had a small vegetable garden, so a lot of what I am doing now is new to me.
The annuals I worried about (a little) are Amaranthus caudatus, but T&M says it is a hardy annual, and Malope triloba, which is half hardy - so I think I will be ok.
Anita, I really like your website!!
Thank you all, you are so generous with advice and encouragement.
I appearently posted in a different thread that I used the new (to me, anyway) transparent duct tape. It was very flexible and lets light through. Cheaper than aluminum tape (which doesn't leave as much of a mess in the Spring as duct tape when you remove it). Looks promising.
Shrubs, perennials and hardy annuals can be sown & will all do fine. If you decide to ws the half hardy annuals now, they'll just wait until the time is right to germinate. Veggies are excellent candidates for wintersowing, plus you get the added enjoyment of getting to eat them.
Beautiful kitty posing with the Dracena (?) and Impatients
Here's a good way to stabilize two liter bottles when you drill drainage holes in the bottom:
Use a cordless drill with a screwdriver bit to screw the cap from a bottle to a workbench or a scrap of lumber, anything you want to use as a work surface.
Threaded side up, so it's like a little cup... make it good and snug.
Then thread the bottle into the cap on the bench. It will be secure, and you'll have a free hand to hold the bottle while you drill your drain holes, or melt holes with a soldering iron, or even stab with an awl repeatedly.
Obviously, this means drilling your drain holes before you cut the bottle in two, but it's a LOT easier this way.
It might work with gallon jugs too, if they have a threaded cap.
I was doing that, but this is a lot easier. The torque of the drill bit makes the bottle more secure in the cap. And the bottle won't try to spin away from you.
Try it, it takes ten seconds to screw the cap down. The drill bit lasts longer, too, not running into wood a thousand times.
...Me too, kb. I hold the jug against my thigh and start stabbing with the ice pick...I just hope I can walk to the phone when I need to call 9-1-1! I was just thinking last weekend that I may have to rethink my hole punching strategy!
I mostly use an ice pick. I stand the jug on a small piece of scrap wood, (works like a little cutting board) and stab quickly to swiss-cheese it. I usually add one larger one on the bottom side by inserting a knife and twisting a little.
I use a box cutter/razor blade type knife that I have from work. I've been cutting sort of V shapes and just folding the cut plastic back towards the inside of the container. I leave a wider center area for the strip of hot pink duct tape for labeling.
Looks like I'll get my 15 minutes of fame Pirl, if you keep telling people about my 911 call. I wonder if I could have dialed on a rotary phone? Love this winter sowing idea. Now I know what to do with all the seed I get and forget to plant! I have saved containers from the chinese rest. but they are only 2 inches deep. not good enough Iguess. I need 4 inches of soil, right?
I priced Rye Straw this morning when I bought some ProMix. The straw is $4.75 a bale but it sure looked clean. It's grown for straw so it gets cut and baled before seed heads form. I'll have to think on whether I can spend that much money, as I need 20 bales.
Boy, first wintersowing and then raiding the neighbors' recyclables! What next? We don't generate much in the way of plastic bottles in our house ordinarily, and upon reading Happy's musings over the neighbors' recyclables, I did it.
Pitch black dark. Am legally blind without my glasses which I cannot wear when temps are under 32*F because the lens fall out. So, talk about feeling your way around. There was only 1 plastic, gallon size container I could use, so now I have to grope my way back down 22 slippery, icy steps to the slippery, icy street and put things back - hopefully as decorously as possible so as not to attract any undue attention. I can see the police interview now, "But, officer, how was I to know it was a bag of recyclables without my glasses on?" I wonder how many other gray-haired, legally blind old ladies reading this thread on the internet tonight lost their sensibility over this? What some of us won't do for flowers!
Thanks, pirl, that makes me feel a little less peculiar about raiding my neighbors' trash. Some of them have been helping me out, but being middle of February, I'm hoping to wintersow now. Well, my list of the hardiest and self-sowiest is finished - tomorrow morning is the day. This whole process of learning and preparing for tomorrow's big event has been the perfect antidote to winter - thank you everyone in this thread and forum.
Ah! A partner in crime - welcome aboard Darius. I'm going to sow my most flamboyant, favorite poppy in that jug - the black peony poppy so I can celebrate tonight's departure from my normally less adventurous life. What will you sow in yours? Looking into my crystal ball a few posts back, I see you mentioned something red, also -- tomatoes?
I know how much you love books - I am thrilled beyond words for you. Maybe we don't want spring to come too soon, now; no better time to suspend oneself out of time with a book than on a starry, winter night.
I've noticed that seeds planted in my soda bottles started to germinate already. None have started to germinate that are in my milk jugs. Some are the same kind of seeds. Could it be the warming effect of the plastic soda bottles, I wonder?
Hello every one,call from Denmark.
How warm is it outside in your part of the world? Here in Denmark its too soon to sow inside the house.The plant's will soon be too long and thin.I cant put anything in the garden before in the middle of May.This picture is from february last year.coooold
My thermometer tells me it is -10º C right now. It is starting to snow and the wind is blowing very hard. The sowing I have done is outside.
Rosa, Where is Helsing? While living in Norway we traveled from Kristiansand to Hjørring by ferry two times. The first time we spent 10 days camping around Denmark the second time was in December in a snow storm we were on our way to Berlin, that was a very difficult drive.
And I thought I was just about done, lol
I ended up doing a total of 20 gallons and 1 half gallon jugs yesterday.
Looks like I will have lots more to do this coming week...
Hope to get them done b4 we get the rain they are saying we are suppose to get..
We ended up getting 4 inches of snow between yesterday and this morning,
now the sun is shining bright with a few scattered clouds... Looks so pretty out...
Really looking forward to Spring this year, and to see what all grows...
Thank you all for the reply's. Here at five in the afternoon the degrees are +3 c.All the seeds I am sowing is sommer flowers and vegetables,best to do that in doors in the spring,some I can sow out in the fall, but I did'nt.
Helsinge is in north zeeland ,in east Denmark.Its a small town about 60 km from Copenhagen.I live about 2,5 km out side Helsinge in the country.Its nice out here
When did this turn into the weather channel? ;^)
Rosa, Do you understand that this is a different technique from sowing seeds in your house during winter? If you look further up the thread you can find a link that explains it all.
okay.. okay.. I know I'm spoiled.. But I still want it to be warmer outside Dave!! Maybe we should talk about this again when it's 100 down here in the shade (and I DO go outside to work morning and night) and your in a nice cool 80 degree day!!! :)
To follow up on what Dave47 was saying, if you check out www.wintersown.org you'll find that the people on this thread are sowning seed, slightly protected in their container, outdoors, usually after the winter solstice (mid-late Dec). This method is perfectly acceptable for hardy annuals and hardy perennials. It's explained in great detail there, with directions for containers and which seeds are appropriate for using this method. I'm trying it for the first time this year (very small scale) because I have horrible experiences with early indoor sowing. Nothing worse than carefully sowing and tending those little seeds and seedling and finding them folded in two one day:LOL: You might consider trying a couple of containers out in your area just to see if it works for you.
What do you all do about the slugs, I didn't have much luck last year and I seem to think it was the slugs because I picked a few out of the jugs and I noticed a lot outside this year. I bought some cheap sandpaper at the dollar store but I don't think that will last long, any other suggestions?
I've got a bunch of egg shells but they wash away from the rain, I feel like I would have to put a flat piece of copper under each jug and there will be too many for that, I only have 20 done right now but I've got a lot more to go! lol
The product "sluggo" is environmentally ok, I believe; maybe sprinkling it around the jugs would work. I'm so glad you mentioned an issue with slugs. I wouldn't have thought of it -- but slugs just love my garden, and I'm sure they'd find the winter-sown stuff in no time.
Too bad copper is so dear right now. I used to buy thin soft copper sheets in 10 foot rolls (and about a foot wide), maybe $10 a roll, for craft projects. It would be great to unroll and set the jugs on it, and roll it up again for next year.
Funny.. I have no problem picking up worms and love them in my garden dearly. I get upset when my kids handle them too rough... But a slug ohhhhhhhhhh noooooooooooo.. I cringe when I've accidentally put my hand under a pot and one was waiting for me. They are the cockroaches of the garden.
LeBug, They are creeping into your jugs? Wow! I've never seen a slug in winter. But I can vouch for escar go. It is like sluggo. Both have no chemicals and really work. Garden's Alive sells escar go. They are a good company even though their sister companies are questionable.
It would freeze in the winter though wouldn't it? I have seen the big slugs on a warm day in the winter creep up a shelf to get to my jugs here, honestly! He was about 3" long! I was thinking along the lines of something a little drier for the winter to put under them.
All of the rocks in our aquariums are smooth, we have 3, I think I will paint a big piece of plywood with sand for next year, I may do it now if the weather gets a little warmer, I think it has to be like no colder than 40 for the paint to dry? I've got paint and I've got sand and a big ole piece of plywood :-) I was really wanting to put them on the ground though, sounds like that is the best place for them to be, maybe I just didn't have any luck WS last year, I did have some things come up. Most of them were on pallets though.
I put sand around my hostas seems to work, it's on the same order of egg shells isn't it? They don't like to crawl on sharp objects so I figure it will work, now if the weather warms up enough to get out there and do it lol
After lots of bad experiences with trying to start seeds I gave up. But this is the second year winter sowing. The first year I did 80 containers and had about 85% success rate! Which I found amazing for me! I had so many plants I never got them all planted over the summer. Plus I didn't have to water them until May. I just set the containers in shade (because the sun, even in the winter, is brutal here) and let them be. This will be my second year winter sowing. It's the only way I ever plan to start seeds now.
dmac085 and Mobi:
I am an indoor seed starting failure also :) I did everything: bleaching containers, fans, lights, sterilizing soil, special tea waterings, etc., only to watch them all die at some point in their short little lives. This is my 2nd year winter sowing and I love it. I only planted about 15 containers last year because of previous failures and just assumed this would not work for me either. I had about 90% germination and had enough plants to share with other people. I didn't start watering until about April and that's all I had to do until they were ready to be planted out.
I'm already up to 40 containers so far and am even being adventurous and trying annuals this year. It's so fun to try things I can't buy in this area and have a reasonable hope that I will actually get plants from seed.
I had planted 80 jugs and 9 jugs didn't germinate. So the percentage is more around 87 % (if my math is correct- it's been a long time). But each jug that did germinate was filled with seedlings. I had to do the plant a chunk of seedlings when I planted them. Since I did the "scatter a lot of seed in the soil" method I have no real way of knowing the percentage of actual seed that germinated. I have a list that didn't germinate, 2 containers of dicentra, 3 of astillbe, 1 chelone, 1 trollius, 1 verbascum, 1 meadowseet, 1 aster (I might have had sterile seed).
The ones that did the best
columbine ( I has SO many of these)
sweet william -tons
lambs ears - coming out my ears
What I was most disappointed in was not winter sowing but having the see germinate, getting it planted, having it bloom the first year and then never seeing it again! I know we have those plants that don't come up the next year, for whatever reason, but since I actually got it to germinate, the death of these ones were harder! I still think of the candy lilies I had that year and just didn't return.
Mobi and Arachide, Wow! That is so reassuring and very exciting to hear such great result:) I guess most people are "show me" types and find it difficult to believe this works despite all of the praise, testamonials and posted results:LOL: I told a co-worker who is aspiring to be a "gentleman farmer" about DG and Wintersown.org and he still hasn't bought into the WS idea and keeps questioning me about it. I get that it's just about letting nature take its course with a bit of help and survival of the fittest which happens naturally with reseeders and volunteer plants all the time, only we get to choose the plants we want. I'm hoping he at least tries a container or three just to see for himself.
Thanks for the reassurance=D
Here's more reassurance... I had soooo many plants that I still have some in LAST YEARS wintersown pots and they are still wanting to be planted out, and I will do that soon!..
Of the pots I lost, I'm positive it was due to drying out..even though I eventually had my husband put a misting/watering system over all my pots. While this year is a little cooler, last year was relatively warm and I had them covered too much. This year, I would only cover if it was below freezing at night.. which it is doing now.
Also, a big mistake I made was getting spent potting soil by the truckload from a nursery and Duh.. it had it's own weed seeds, some of them were stronger than my true seed.. but a little bit of a mess nonetheless.
I am going to be direct sowing more seed this year and getting beds ready by cleaning them up and applying some good soil to the top and making sure the area stays misted and damp as I would if they were in wintersown containers. Zinnias in particular.. I bought a huge amount of seed for this.
Also, since I am soo full throttle, compulsive and the mother of two small children, AND the unexpected always seems to happen when I least expect it... I am going to take the time to sow lots more in my own handmade newspaper pots. This way, I will not have to rip apart plants that have become overcrowded in those small spaces. I know it's is a lot of work up front, but I have I determined for me... being as how I can't guarantee that I can plant out at precisely the right moment in time, paper pots assure me that the plant will have room for its own roots and I wont have as many overcrowding casualties.
Wintersowing works... mine may be a variation of the true wintersowing gurus.. but we all tinker with stuff and make it work best for us right?
Here are just some of the pots I did last year. The plastic you see on the side is how I covered them and the PVC held it from touching the pots and plants.
My first attempt to WS is coming up, since I found out about it today. Two questions:
1) Is it too late to winter sow today March 1?
2) Can I WS things like sunflowers, love-in-a-puff, baby's breath etc, despite of the label directions to sow after danger of frost?
Sunflowers are also listed in the catalogs as Hardy Annuals. Most of us wih birdfeeders can attest to the hardiness of the seeds because we have them germinating in April/May from the winter feeding stations, so I would put them in the "annuals to wintersow" category.