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Winter Sowing: Lessons learned (condensed) - All the good stuff!

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grampapa
Wheatfield, NY
(Zone 6a)

February 19, 2008
1:47 PM

Post #4559123

This thread is the condensed version of all 6 of the 'Lessons Learned' sticky threads from previous years (actually, all but #1 were from last year). A link will be provided from the new sticky thread.

Many, MANY thanks to Terese (tcs1366) for taking on the very tedious job of sifting through 5 of the 6 of these threads (I managed to get thru one of them LOL) and mining out the gems.

Enjoy!

~ jan

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grampapa
Wheatfield, NY
(Zone 6a)

February 19, 2008
1:49 PM

Post #4559130



PLEASE DO NOT POST TO THIS THREAD!

IT IS FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY!!

ANY EXTRANEOUS POSTS WILL BE REMOVED
grampapa
Wheatfield, NY
(Zone 6a)

February 19, 2008
1:50 PM

Post #4559136

This is where it all started, if you would like to see the original threads:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/599007/
grampapa
Wheatfield, NY
(Zone 6a)

February 19, 2008
1:53 PM

Post #4559143

This is a compilation of many Lessons’ Learned Threads here on Dave’s Garden.


tabasco Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6a) said:

Hi, Everybody,

I want to thank all the experienced wintersowers on DG who shared their advice and gave encouragement to everyone's Wintersowing Project this year. It made it a lot of fun to share together our trials and tribulations about getting our seedlings going.

I thought it might be a good idea to make a list of all the 'Lessons Learned' this year while Wintersowing in Zone 6A. This is the third year for WSing for me, and with every year's experience, I am getting a little better at it. (I'm a slow learner.)

So here's my list of mistakes/changes, lessons learned, and please add your own list of Winter Sowing "Lessons Learned"

1. Make permanent labels. Use a truly indelible pen and keep a container ID list in my files. Plastic labels don't work with Sharpies.

2. Try to find a sunnier location--maybe dappled sun/shade would be the best.

3. Don't overplant the containers with too many seeds.

4. If I use aluminum roasting pans, for containers I should make a tent of the plastic Zip Loc covering. Not let it lay on the soil

5. Must make plenty of drainage slits to accommodate spring downpours. Drainage. Drainage. Drainage.

6. Don't fret so much over the seeds and seedlings. "Take the Wintersowing Leap of Faith"!!!

That's it for me (right now). What about everybody else? I know there are lots of good tips to pass along!
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soulgardenlove Marietta, GA (Zone 7b) said:

Silly mistake... For some pots, I used spent soil that had been thrown out and available by the truckload. It was full of it's own seeds!!

If you start wintersowing in Feb, the sunny location of all your pots may well be in shade by April...so think ahead.

I will start earlier next year... Jan, maybe for some things.

Susan
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JuBabe Midland, TX (Zone 7b) said:

Use sharpies only!!!!

**Editorial - most have found that Sharpies do fade, but some have found if you turn the container so the text is not in the sun, it should be OK. Most of us use Paint Pens.
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soulgardenlove Marietta, GA (Zone 7b) said:
I hear pencil never fades and thats what I use.

Susan
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Shirley1md Ellicott City, MD (Zone 7a) said:

Having faith that the seeds that have not yet germinated will do so when they are ready. Whether that is in one week, one month or one year from now.

Only use grease pencils or water proof, sun proof and weather proof markers. Otherwise, you will have "mystery" plants!
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Dave47 Guilford, CT (Zone 6a) said:

Half of my WS was done with bad potting soil. It made a huge difference.
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KatyMac So. Puget Sound, WA (Zone 8b) said:

I will NOT plant as deeply as the package instructs. Those I did have (mostly) not germinated.

I WILL save my milk jugs for next winter.

I WILL find a sunnier location for containers.
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vossner Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) said:

Lesson: Just plant a few things, that way I can commit to taking good care of them. Planting flats and
flats and flats of stuff, not working for me.
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Shirley1md Ellicott City, MD (Zone 7a) said:

I WSed 180 containers this year. I'll never have time to plant them all out before the weather turns really hot. I plan to sow LESS next year!! Please keep reminding me in case I forget!!! :~)

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soulgardenlove Marietta, GA (Zone 7b) said:

I sowed so many containers that I never got around to the veggies!! It was a great thing to learn to do this year and next year I will have a 'tighter" list of what to sow as well.

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merryma Auburn, MA (Zone 5b) said:

I need to make myself clean out my beds in the fall and not wait for spring. It seems to be race to see if I can get my beds ready before my seedlings start crawling out of their containers. Also, I need to mark each of my planted perennials when I plant them (not just one tag for the whole planting)...so I don't weed them next spring. I bought three packages of shishkebob sticks just for that reason.

Possibly, I may want to cut down on how many containers I do? Hmmm...that's a hard one...especially if Valueseeds is still around next winter.

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gdionelli Huntington, WV (Zone 6a) said:

Double check to make sure I marked each container before taking it out. I could've sworn I did...
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alyrics Beachwood, OH said:
OK- Lesson # 99 will come first. Do not put Dahlia seedlings that you slaved over since February into the garage on a frosty night without covering them. Mice, chipmunks, something has eaten them entirely up. They are gone, kaput, vanished. I learned this lesson 2 nights ago.

Lesson # 98. Do not water seedlings with too strong a H2O2 solution no matter how tempting it is to follow the - If a Little is Good, More is Better philosophy. The seedlings will turn brown and die.

Lesson # 97. When the roots are a visible tangled mass at the bottom of the container, it might be time to pot them up, or plant them out.

Lesson # 96. Do not plant out little seedlings in the sun without giving them a tent of some kind to protect them for a few days. No matter how hardened off they are, they weren't ready for that.

Lesson # 95. Whatever happens, smile. It was all a lot of fun.
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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b) said:

Lessons learned in year 1.

- keep containers covered until second set of leaves.
-make a list of favorites from this year so I can sow more of them next year.
-mark the bottom of containers and even put a plastic marker in the container. When I moved containers around - I separated the lids from the bottoms - duh!!!
-use mostly milk/water gallon jugs for large sowings and large poland spring bottles for sowing a few seeds. Quart milk containers worked well too especially for temperamental plants like dill.
-plant more seeds!!!
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hilomark Homer, NY (Zone 5a) said:

Tie twine around my jugs! I had about 40 1/2-gal milk jugs and 2-liter soda bottles on my patio table...a strong winter wind came and knocked several of them off, disturbing the soil...I am having seeds sprout in the strangest locations in the containers!!!! After a couple of those "wind" episodes, I tied twine around the entire circumference of the group of jugs, and that stabilized them for the remainder of the winter.

Second lesson learned: Winter sowing works and is well-worth the effort :-) !

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alyrics Beachwood, OH said:
1. You really need the 4" of soil in a container especially if you WS early. The root systems are much more developed than I thought and shallow soil ends up stunting the growth of the top of the plant.

2. That said, for something that can be planted out early, the take out containers that a rotisserie chicken comes in were hands down the best containers I used. The high dome accomplished all the good stuff - air circulation, retaining moisture, letting in the right amount of light, and are easy to pop on and off. The other really good containers were clear deli containers, and paper ice cream cartons. I liked the ice cream cartons more than the milk jugs but we didn't have a heavy snow year so the hard protection of the milk jug would be good in snow conditions. The lid of the paper ice cream container - like a Healthy Choice carton, can be cut out, then you lay plastic wrap over it and put the lid back on and poke a few holes. It holds the plastic wrap very tightly and is easier to get on and off than the milk jug tops.

3. I will put my containers in more sun faster next year.

4. I will WS earlier and repeat more often. Although I had 100% germination and all containers eventually caught up with each other, I lost some due to various causes - tipping, guest waterers, rodents! etc.

5. Get a little Perlite or fine sand to sprinkle over the top of really fine seeds. Even though I have a seedling waterer, I ended up washing the seeds off to one side of the container and they clumped up.

6. A tomato grower gave a good bit of advice to avoid the seeds washing to one side, and that is to thoroughly wet your medium the day before you sow, and then let the containers stand a day. If they are good and wet there will be no need to water right away.

7. I would like to continue experimenting with watering with H2O2 when the seedlings are up. I reported before that several seedlings really responded well like delphinium, dahlia, nepeta, shasta daisy, violas. Others, like perennial poppies were nearly killed by it. I was not careful about my measurement of the H2O2.

8.I used new Pro-Mix that had fertilizer in the mix and was satisfied with the results. I think the constant dampness probably caused compaction in the peat component so if I use Pro-Mix again I will fill the containers more so there is still good soil depth by spring.

9. I found big plastic serving trays at the Dollar Store and put my containers on them. It made it a lot easier to move them around when I needed to. Which I did because I laid this all out on my deck.

10. A friend told me that the only containers she lost or didn't get good germination were those she didn't bleach to sterilize. So I soaked all my containers in dilute bleach water before using. I know others just wash with soapy water but I didn't have any trouble with germination or damping off.

11. I sowed 19 kinds of seeds and I felt like I didn't do much compared to others. But now that its planting time I'm glad I started kind of small this year. Starting small is ok which has never ever been my motto in the past but this year I was glad.

For next year I am definitely going to WS my annuals. I look at flats of annuals in a whole new light this spring. I need to find out how to store the leftover seeds from last year and would like to hear from others about how they do that.

I really had a great time with this project. It passed the winter months very wonderfully. I kept the laundry room dirty with bags of soil and trays of containers.
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gdionelli Huntington, WV (Zone 6a) said:

One more lesson I'm discovering -- don't plant in containers that are narrower at the top than the bottom -- even a little bit. I had some large plastic dog treat jars -- they're very wide, so I thought they would work , but the openings are a bit smaller than the width of the jars -- makes transplanting difficult, to say the least!
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missgarney Cullowhee, NC (Zone 6b) said:
This has been my first year wintersowing. I learned that:

-I should not use containers with any ridges or indentations on the sides

-I like Fuji water bottles the best

-I should sow fewer seeds per container

-I should find out why the lobelia cardinalis died within days after transplantation (??!!??!)

-I should plant more alyssum and snapdragons and NO bachelor's buttons

-I should plant more than 20 containers. It was fun.
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YardenMan Westerville, OH (Zone 6a) said:

My lesson learned: covering the seeds is not necessary. This is my first year WS'g so maybe I just had beginner's luck but I put all of my seeds in Pro-Mix potting mix in large 2" deep cheap aluminum cooking pans with some small drain holes punched in the pans' bottoms. I put the pans, without any covering on top, on our patio table. I had at least an 80% germination rate. Next year, to make transplanting easier, I probably will put the seeds in peat pots and bury the pots in potting mix in the aluminum pans. But I do not plan on covering the pans.

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gardenwife Newark, OH (Zone 5b) said:

I can tell you that Sharpie markers fade in the sun, big time. You need to use something truly indelible, such as a Zig paint marker or another paint marker. There are various brands, but they're the kind you have to shake to mix and pump the nib a few times to prime - they'll say on them that they're non-fading and waterproof.

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beaker_ch Columbia Heights, MN (Zone 4a) said:

Yardman, didn't your soil dry out? Were you watering alot? I agree about the peat pots. Sure would make separation easier.

What I did to mark mine, I used those coffee stir sticks from Starbucks and then I wrapped that new Glad Seal and Store around the top of the stick. You know, the stuff that sticks to itself but is easy to handle? I think that's what it is called. Anyway, lasted through the season.
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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b) said:

I learned another lesson - keep the seedlings in their containers as long as possible or they become slug bait!

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YardenMan Westerville, OH (Zone 6a) said:

beaker_ch: No, I did not water the seeds. I ignored them (except for occasionally peeking at the trays through our kitchen windows) until the daytime temps started to go up into the 60s. Then I started to monitor the potting mix's moisture level and misted as necessary to maintain the proper moisture level.

Suggestion for seed labeling: buy a box or two of the cheap, plastic, multi-colored toothpicks. Stick toothpicks of one color around one type of seed. Then simply write yourself some notes about which toothpick color corresponds to which type of seed. The toothpicks should not fade that much, if at all, over winter and your notes are safe in the house. If there are not enough toothpick colors for all of your seeds, then draw a rough sketch the positions of the seed contains in your yard and then define the color/seed correlation by container.
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gardenwife Newark, OH (Zone 5b) said:

Good idea with the toothpicks, Yardman. I bet one could fold pieces of duct tape over the ends of the toothpicks and write on them with a paint marker, too.

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alyrics Beachwood, OH said:

Re- seedlings not growing and root size: I allowed Verbena bonariensis to reseed in one of the beds I use for annuals so I'd have some plants this year. Last night I dug them out and was quite surprised at the size of the root systems vs the tops. Good lesson learned for me. The tops were anywhere from 1" to 4" tall but the roots went about 3-4" down. The seedlings came up in blocks just they do when they are thickly wintersown.
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soulgardenlove Marietta, GA (Zone 7b) said:

Another lesson I've learned... I wintersowed SO much, that I STILL on June 4th, have seedlings in the wintersown pots. I predict that at the end of the season there will still be plants that never got out of the pots. I will focus on a much more tighter list of annuals and grow more perennials from seed. I also will sow lighter and not as densely.

Susan

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KatyMac So. Puget Sound, WA (Zone 8b) said:

I will not number my containers but will ID them with names. With nearly 100 containers, I got totally confused as to which number referred to which seeds. I plan on using duct tape around the bottoms of the containers with the plant name written on with a cow tag marker pen (super permanent). If the tops get switched or blown off it won't matter.

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=2683307
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Mobi Denver, CO (Zone 6a) said:

Make sure and get your soil to plant in now, as it is impossible to find when winter hits. I went to wallymart and got their clearance Miracle grow moisture control on sale!

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DonnaA2Z Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) said:

I learned... to save at least half of the seed you have for a plant to plant later... in case it doesn't work the first time around.

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woodthrush Albrightsville, PA (Zone 4a) said:

Check your containers during the summer for late sprouters. Some seeds take longer to germinate.

________________________________________________________________________________ alyrics Beachwood,
I found that using dry medium right out of the bag turned out badly because when I watered the seeds in they were washed over to the side of the container and I got clumps of seedlings. Somebody on the tomato forum said they thoroughly soaked their soil before scattering the seeds on. They probably stick more easily to the surface of the soil if its wet than if its dry.

Ditto on the 4" of soil. I lost some seedlings because my containers were too shallow and they got rootbound. If they've got depth they will use it. I had delphium seedlings that had nice long 6" roots that came out of a milk jug.

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**end of Thread #1 **


**Start of Thread #3 **

Joy Kalama, WA (Zone 8b)

I just want to add that #2 pencils do fade, but it does take some years. So using them for marking winter sown seedlings is fine. For a more permanent marker once the plants are planted out I've learned to use grease pencils and paint markers. Both of these have held up over the years better than #2 pencils or sharpies.

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tcs1366

my lesson learned from this year... use bigger (higher) boxes. Shoe box size is not tall enough.
The “roof” needs to be higher to accommodate the seedling growth.

_________________________________________________________________________________ Brent_In_NoVa Sterling, VA (Zone 6b)

On lesson that I learned from my previous go at winter sowing is that you do have to think about mature sizes when planting out your babies. I will let many of my seedlings mature for a month or two in pots, but even then they are such tiny plants. I had such a hard time convincing myself that these puny plants would soon be 3' wide.

I was really surprised by how fast my winter sown plants matured and how quickly some of my plantings became over crowded. In general I do like to plant new perennials close to get that full look earlier with the ideas that I can thin them later. With my seedling I though that the thinning job would be in a year or two, but many plants were too crowded after just a few months.


Pameliap Florence, SC (Zone 8a)

Lessons I've learned from this first year of winter sowing (so far)...

A. Fill opaque cups with planting medium as close to the top as possible to prevent lanky plants trying to reach the sun.

B. Remove nasturtiums from boxes as soon as they germinate, as they tend to get too wet and rot (I almost lost my first ones before I realized this).

C. I've learned that this method really works and I love it. It will definitely be a part of my gardening plan from now on.

Out of 193 containers (so far...yes I have more seed, lol), only about 24 haven't germinated. Some of those have hopeful little green bumps and some I know need more consistent warmth than we've had so far or are long germination types, so I haven't given up on anything
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Hineni Woodstock, GA (Zone 7a)

I did learn that heat is far more deadly to sprouts than cold this year - and that the containers hold moisture pretty well. Next year as soon as it hits 70 I'm taking down the tops on my sprouted ones. I only lost a few sprouts thankfully.
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Cordeledawg Cordele, GA (Zone 8a)

Lessons Learned...What works: Initially placing several markers inside the jugs at the start of winter sowing...
One thing I'm glad I did do when I first sowed my seeds... I placed several plastic forks and knives marked with their plant names and date in with the jugs. As I was planting some of the seedlings into groups, I'd just take one of the plastic markers from the jugs to name the seedlings. I planted 3, or 5, or 7, or 9 in a group depending on the plant. One marker per grouping. Now, I can relax and make a "real' marker at my leisure, giving these seedlings an opportunity to grow on further in their new bed. Most will get a nice looking metal marker, later when I'm not so tired after planting.

I'm never original so I'm sure I read this from ya'lls last year lessons learned.LOL

This same information was also written on the outside of the jugs. However, what I plan to include next year will be the plant's maturity height (& bloom color if known) on the outside of the jug. Since there's not enough room on the plastic forks and knives for this. I did have this information on file, but not quite as organized with my maps when I take them with me to the beds. I change my mind to often when it's all said and none (really ready to plant).
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carrielamont Milton, MA (Zone 6a)

Excellent idea of salt/pepper shakers and a little sand for the tiny seeds! I tried plastic knives but I just couldn't write well enough or maybe mine are extra petite knives or something! And the condensation inside my containers caused the writing to wash off in the cases where I put both a marker and an outside number.

xxxx, Carrie
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zenpotter Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4b)

Believe it or not pencil works well. I use pencil on one side and paint marker on the other, just-in-case. The ones from last year made it till now right through the winter.
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carrielamont Milton, MA (Zone 6a)

Ok folks, I didn't have any sand, did NOT want to use salt (I'm not that dumb) so I used sugar. Will that do anything bad to the tiny seedlets? It worked well; I could see the little seeds among the sugar and it melted nearly instantly.

xxx, Carrie
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Seandor Springfield, MA (Zone 6a)

Lesson learned: Sow the seeds and allow them to germinate - then transfer them into little paper pots :-)

And do fewer of each type of seed - who knew so many would germinate?
Oh - something else! The clear plastic containers that Costco sells grapes in appear to be absolutely perfect for winter sowing containers :-) I plan to eat a lot of Costco grapes between now and December.

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Seandor Springfield, MA (Zone 6a)

Cut milk jugs in half. Use the bottom to sow the seeds, use a gallon-size zip-lock baggie as the top. Much easier to cut the corners for ventilation.

Use the top of the milk containers to protect wee plants early in the season from frosts.
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Clementine Chapel Hill, NC (Zone 7b)

Learned the hard way: if you use 2liter soft drink bottles, and remove the big label that goes all around, be sure to write the container number on the lower part. When I started taking off those tops, I just stacked them one on top of the other, and if I did not recognize the seedlings, it was really hard to reconstruct.

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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b)

I made that mistake once too - I always mark the top and bottom of each container.

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tcs1366 Itasca, IL (Zone 5a)

One thing i learned this year was... not to "soak" the seeds. Let Mother Nature take care of that.

every single seed i soaked - because i read to do it (though not on a WS forum)
the seeds molded, or just plain, didn't germinate.

I lost all of my Bean Vine (and i wasn't sure what they were, now I can't "watch" them to see what they were) and I lost a bunch of morning glories... though i had A LOT germinate for me.

Has anyone else found this to be true? the soaking - i mean.

as for the 2ltr bottles, i wrote on the bottom portion.

seandor -- i will use your idea of using the tops of the milk jugs to cover newly planted plants from cold weather or frosts... good idea.

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merryma Auburn, MA (Zone 5b)

I put all of my containers in cardboard boxes when I put them outside (not my idea, but I wish I'd thought of it). I tried it for the first time last year, now it's part of my routine. Having the bottoms of the containers in the shade seems to keep the soil moist, but the tops still get sun. And when it rains, the boxes hold the water just long enough to bottom water...the rest of it drains away. Plus...I can use the cardboard for mulching when I'm done.
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grampapa Wheatfield, NY (Zone 6a)

I put mine in boxes to carry them out and keep them from blowing away in the wind. But it worked out well, so I guess I'll do it again.

¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_________________________________________________________________________________

Cordeledawg Cordele, GA (Zone 8a)

Next year I will sow annual vines like cardinal climber vine into peat pots and then sit these into the container of soil. These plants do not like to be transplanted.
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carrielamont Milton, MA (Zone 6a)

OK, here's ONE of my numerous lessons learned for next year: If you use soda-type bottles, with indentations in the bottom, plant them out before the roots get so long that they have wedged themselves into the crevices. I may have performed a rootectomy on several of my most adorable noids! :-(
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Seandor Springfield, MA (Zone 6a)

To have faith. I really, really wanted delphiniums so I planted Pacific Giant Blue Bird, and clear springs mixed (like magic fountain). - But nothing seemed to be happening . . . so I planted Connecticut Yankee . . . and nothing seemed to be happening. And I really, really wanted these, so I thought - well, I will plant annual mixed larkspur.

Needless to say, everything germinated . . . I have about 50 Pacific Giant Blue Bird, about 60 clear springs mixed, about 20 Connecticut Yankee, and about 75 mixed larkspur!

Next year, I want to plant fewer plants and be more selective of what I am growing. I don't mind starting perennials for the neighbours if they will cover the cost of the potting soil, etc.

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Shirley1md Ellicott City, MD (Zone 7a)

I love the idea of putting your ws soda bottles into cardboard boxes! What a brilliant idea!! You guys are the best!!!!!

carrie: "rootectomy on several of my most adorable noids!" You had me cracking up and laughing out loud!!

The best thing (another one) I've learned is that wintersowing can be done all year long! Don't just sow during the Winter months, but in the Spring, Summer & Fall. We all have been sowing annuals, tropicals & some veggies now that the weather is warming up. Some seeds such as Hellebores, Clematis, and Cyclamen NEED to have a season of warm temps followed by a season of cold in order to germinate. So, don't stop sowing those seeds! You can also sow more seeds during the Summer months so the plants will be ready to be put in your garden in the Fall. Get a 'jump start' on wsing by starting your seeds in the Fall. What a wonderful way to keep our hands playing in soil all year around!!!

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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b)

One thing I've learned both years that I have tried this is not being able to get away from over-sowing. I tend to be heavy with the hand when sowing the seeds. I have about an 87% germination rate on my containers so far, but within those containers the germination rate varies. I don't want to be stuck with one plant, so I sow more seeds. This sometimes leads to all the seeds germinating or sometimes just a few. It's a toss up.

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tcs1366 Itasca, IL (Zone 5a)

shirley,

a great thing about using the boxes is... if you have to move them - it makes it so much easier for transporting.

lately i have been "away" for 3-4 days... and gosh forbid my kids water my seedlings... so i give them a good drink before i leave and put them in the shade, so they don't dry out. when i get back... they get moved to partial sun -- but i'm home to keep track of the watering... plus -- as someone else mentioned... you just "water" the box, the containers take up what they need and the rest seeps out of the box.

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Clementine Chapel Hill, NC (Zone 7b)

So, lesson learned - DON'T buy cheap soil, it is not worth it.

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zone5girl Painesville, OH (Zone 5b)

My lesson learned for WS is to not be stingy with the seeds. A lot of containers I only planted 3 or 5 seeds, and was lucky to end up with 1 that actually became a plant. I'll definitely oversow next year and thin out what I don't need. Tamara

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zenpotter Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4b)

My lesson is don't plant so much. I am still planting and planting. I am just about out of room and then it will be time to start giving plants away.

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Seandor Springfield, MA (Zone 6a)

I learned that this is the only way I can afford to mass plant - today I planted 35 snapdragons, about 9 old-fashioned carnations, about 15 pinks, 20 viola (blackberry cream!) Plus I have already planted about 50 larkspur, and there are still more to plant!

I also planted about 100 or so impatiens (started inside - then moved to veranda). Also planted about 15 foxglove, and I still have to plant the delphiniums!
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tcs1366 Itasca, IL (Zone 5a)

Lesson Learned -- do less next year.

last year was my first stab at it, and i had way too many seedlings.

i will do less seeds per container

plus i will be more choosy when it comes to seeds.

certain seeds i will direct sow, like sun flowers, since the bunnies eat them anyways... so why go thru all the trouble SW'ing them only to have them on the bunny buffet.
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kqcrna Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6a)

I have to do less this year. After 2 years of wintersowing and cramming seedlings into every visible inch of soil, I'm running out of bed space. Plus, perennials which stayed small this year and didn't bloom will need more space next year than this year.

I sowed 80 some containers the first time, 60 some containers the second time. I just have to cut back.

Karen
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carrielamont Milton, MA (Zone 6a)

My motto for next time is: PAINT PEN!

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tcs1366 Itasca, IL (Zone 5a)

i used the paint pen and it worked fabulously!!

funny thing though... i knew what everything was when it was still in the jug... but then, when i got them in the ground, i forgot to add a plant stake so i knew what was what. plus i need to keep the weeds under control a bit better... since i didnt know what was what, i wasn't pulling weeds, since i wasnt sure if it was a plant or a weed. kinda silly... but that's what happened to me.

So – another lesson learned …. use plant markers for your seedlings when you plant out.
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Seandor Springfield, MA (Zone 6a)

I think this year I will space out the seeds more so they can grow in the containers better before I plant them out. I also found that the plants REALLY take off once they are in the ground.


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karmaplace New Orleans, LA (Zone 8b)

Hi, I'm VERY new to wintersowing, but I've already learned one lesson. Make sure you clean out your milk jugs WELL before you set it aside. I only rinsed it and tossed into my saved containers pile, and yesterday went to cut it up per instructions, and it reeked!!! I spent a good bit of time scrubbing and washing them down. Just thought I'd contribute a little something, since this forum has helped me so much.

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Grow_Jo Calgary, AB (Zone 3a)

"Is my understanding correct that if you use a large enough container to start you don't have to transplant them until they are ready for the ground?"

Well, I'd say it all depends on how many seeds you start in each container. A lot of us who use milk jugs put entire seed packets in the milk jug and you end up with something that looks like a Chia pet! LOL. I think Trudi recommends sowing entire packets, but I think over time, with experience, we'll all start to figure out which seeds we really need to do that with and which we don't...I'm still going to sow entire packets in milk jugs this winter...

Edited to say that I ended up transplanting a lot of my seedlings, but only because I had to give HUNDREDS of them away...otherwise, most of them were robust and big enough to go into the ground.
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tcs1366 Itasca, IL (Zone 5a)

Oh Yea JO -- I had TONS of solid gallon jug chias. some were difficult to separate, so i just plunked the whole thing in the ground.

that is one item on my list to "do things differently" (lessons i've learned)

I guess when i was adding the entire seed packet, I wasn't expecting ever single seed to germinate.

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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b)

That's why I started keeping records. If I got the same poor results two years in a row, then I either change the sowing date again or I don't w/s them again.
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zenpotter Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4b)

I keep promising myself that this is the year I will carefully draw out each bed to scale and put the plants in place. Maybe next summer. It would help if I wasn't one of the gardeners that thinks the more the merrier.
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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b)

I found that a small piece of duct tape on each side of the container made my life alot easier that wrapping all the way around. I was amazed at how stuck the tape was come spring.
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Syrumani San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b)

I did the same, except just one piece of tape on the opposite side of my hinge.
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Anitabryk2 Ronkonkoma, NY (Zone 6b)

I think keeping individual records is very important. While you can use others' results as a guide, none will be more accurate for your yard than your results. I'm reviewing the dates I've sown and when the seed germinated to determine when I will sow them this year.
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Illoquin Indianapolis, IN (Zone 5b)

Seandor, I did my first few jugs like that with the name in black on the bottom half of the jug, but found I could not read them -- dark writing on the dark surface (with the dark soil behind it, I mean) It drove me crazy. With all the plants you have, I would strongly urge you to put in plastic plant markers now that can be moved with the plants themselves at planting out time. You need to streamline the process now so you can get those plants in the ground the very most effiecient way.

Oh, Cathy4, Yes, that would be a problem...with any of the sharpies, much less the colored ones. If you need to have the name exposed, a paint pen is truly the only reliable marking pen. (There are other garden markers that will work as well, but they are specialty items, and I'm not really talking about them. I don't like to use them because some I have bought have a HUGE tip and I can't read what I wrote because it's just blobs.) I like to us a Sharpie because I always have them around, but I tuck the tag down in the jug with the name facing out. I can read it through the sheer milk jug, but not from real far away, so I bet it might not work as well for you.

Suzy
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alyrics, Beachwood, OH said:

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. 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.


netwiz, York, PA said:

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.

Joanne


Cordeledawg, Cordele, GA, (Zone 8a) said:

I've listed my seeds I've wintersown in my journal and also a database I'm trying out on a trial run. I'm writing the RID number on my containers too. Probably over-kill but I like keeping records anyway. = 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. Deborah♥
http://davesgarden.com/community/journals/sj/Cordeledawg/3304/


SW_gardener, Southern Ontario , (Canada), (Zone 6a) asked:

Anita, Have you WSd the hybrid Califonia poppies before?
I regular sowed some last year and ended up with only 2...some others spouted but they died.

Steven

Anitabryk2, Ronkonkoma, NY, (Zone 6b) replied:

Steve - I had great success with the California Poppies last year. I plan on doing quite a bit more this year! I had flowers all summer through late fall!!!


alyrics, Beachwood, OH said:

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.


Clementine, Chapel Hill, NC, (Zone 7b) asked:

So, how do you decide when to sow what? Surely you can't sow EVERYTHING right after the solstice (or in January)?

kbaumle, Northwest, OH, (Zone 5b) replied:

Seriously? I just sow 'n go. I sow them all and they will come up when it's the right time for THEM.

Dave47, Guilford, CT, (Zone 6a) replied:

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

kqcrna, Cincinnati, OH, (Zone 6a) replied:

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.

Karen

Illoquin, Indianapolis, IN, (Zone 5b) replied:

One thing I do when I gets seeds I am unfamiliar with is to look them up on the T&M website. [HYPERLINK@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.

Suzy

Shirley1md, Ellicott City, MD, (Zone 7a) replied:

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.


LeBug, Greenville, IN, (Zone 6a) asked:

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?

soulgardenlove, Marietta, GA, (Zone 7b) replied:

Slugs wont cross copper wire I hear. I crush all my egg shells, spread around hostas and it's like a razor blade to their slimmy little bodies.

you could always use precious beer and set traps as a last resort... poor in tuna can and put them down in the ground and the slugs will drown in it.

Susan

happy_macomb, Chevy Chase, MD, (Zone 7a) replied:

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.

Dave47, Guilford, CT, (Zone 6a) replied:

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.
Dave

pirl, Southold, NY, (Zone 7a) replied:

How about trying gravel?

LeBug, Greenville, IN, (Zone 6a) said:

I think I will paint a big piece of plywood with sand for next year,

kqcrna, Cincinnati, OH, (Zone 6a) said:

Does sand really kill slugs?

Diatomateous earth is supposed to work well, but I've never heard of sand...

Karen

LeBug, Greenville, IN, (Zone 6a) said:

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


soulgardenlove, Marietta, GA, (Zone 7b) said:

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?



Illoquin, Indianapolis, IN, (Zone 5b said:

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.

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edit to add additional items from thread #2


This message was edited Feb 19, 2008 9:44 AM

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Other Winter Sowing Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Winter Sowing Seed Swap .....part 2 alicewho 213 Mar 23, 2007 1:01 PM
Lessons learned for next year #2 zenpotter 256 Mar 23, 2007 7:56 AM
Milk jugs TurtleChi 99 Mar 19, 2007 12:20 PM
WS Poppies & transplant problems marie_ 100 May 11, 2011 4:44 PM
Database germination info bluespiral 6 Mar 5, 2008 12:23 PM


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