I have been sifting through these amazing threads on winter sowing and would love to try it! This year I grew everything under lights in the city and then drove the plants out to Long Island in May where I planted them in the garden. Everyone thought I was crazy until they saw the gardens and ate the fresh veggies :)
Winter sowing seems less tedious yet just as much fun! However, if I'm working in the city M-F, is weekend care enough for the containers as the weather warms in the spring and they need watering / larger slits, etc? I'm worried they will dry out and get fried by the spring sun while I'm not there to care for them. Any thoughts?
No, I don't think I'd trust them to just weekend care in spring.
If you're away and the weather suddenly gets hot (well, that does happen here), the jugs need to be opened or the seedlings will cook. They'll need more frequent watering too. You could do the watering with sprinklers on timers, but someone needs to be physically present to open them.
Conversely, if it's warm and they're already open, you need to close them for sudden frosts/ freeze warnings to protect them.
You can totally ignore them in the cold winter weather. Spring is the tricky part. Is there anyone who can help care for them in your absence?
Peckhause what kind of set-up do you have there in the city? Are you an apartment dweller? You really wouldn't need that much outside space for winter sowing (that is untill you become an addict like the rest of us). Even if you have a patio or a balcony you could find space for 1/2 dozen jugs which would give you plenty of tomoatos, peppers and onions. :)
Thank you for the responses. Yes, I'm an apartment dweller with no balcony. Sigh. But, thankfully I do have access to my family's garden outside of Manhattan. I will keep thinking if there is a solution for winter sowing -- I'm already addicted to growing my own plants from seed, but have only tried direct-sowing and with lights so far.
I'm strictly a Darwinian gardener - survival of the fittest. I think, if your containers were big in respect to the # of seeds, and you had plenty of slits/drainage, you'd be ok until the time came to plant them out. That's just me, though, and clearly other people feel differently! You could start some under lights to make sure.
You know what? I think you have nothing to lose in running the experiment. Do some of your seeds winter sowed, and see what you get. As long as the seeds are protected during the hottest part of the day, they may be just fine. So, if you can find a site with morning sun and afternoon shade, that may be just right.
Once the days really warm up, you can open up the top for more ventilation. Also, the Weather Channel can give you a pretty good estimate of the weather 10 days in advance.
So, for what it is worth, I say go for it - give it a try. :-)
Peckhaus, if you're not around to babysit the plants, try the Aerogarden. I used to travel full-time and was only home every other week. The Aerogarden is designed for minimal attention. I got it initially with herbs, but then I bought lettuce and their master gardener kit to do my own seeds. So far, I've been able to mix stuff. But if you're only growing one or two, the harvest is a bit limited.
Guess, they are a bit pricey. We travel all the time so we were able to redeem for Skymall certificates to get them.. They work and I'm pretty happy with them. Can't beat some that's virtually free and works great. :)
Peckhaus, once the ws seeds sprout, sit your ws containers under cover of deep shade and watering them only on the weekends should be fine. That's what I did for mine here in South Georgia. They sat under the shade of a huge low branching pine tree from the start to the finish. Since you know that you can't get to them but only on weekends, ensure that you use good potting soil even if you have to make your own by adding peat moss to retain water and vermilite(sp) to allow the roots to breathe.
My milk jugs dried out some around the sides and the soil would seperate from side. The seedlings did just fine though with once a week watering. With seedlings already up in a confined jug, it's better to lean towards the dry side than staying wet, IMO. Using the orange juice containers, eventhough smaller than milk jugs, the container itself absorbs moisture and they actually stayed moist longer than the jugs.