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Winter Sowing: When to Pop the Top off?

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Forum: Winter SowingReplies: 31, Views: 334
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rebecca30
Cary, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
12:48 AM

Post #4668807

When do I take off the milk gallon tops off? Is it according to constant temp range or how many leaves on the seedlings? (ex: 1st true set of leaves then take off the top?) I live in zone 7b North Carolina. Thanks

rebecca30
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
12:50 AM

Post #4668814

What are the seedlings? Are you getting ready to harden them off?
rebecca30
Cary, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
12:54 AM

Post #4668831

honestly, I have allll kinda of seeds, like 54+ containers. some sprouted, some with true leaves, some not sprouted at all. Off course the ones that have not or just sprouted a few days ago are not ready.

Harden off?? I thought they harden off while in the milk jugs on my back porch in the sun? Can you give detail since I am a newbiew to WSing this year. *listens*

r30
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
1:00 AM

Post #4668856

Ok, to harden them off means that one they get their set of true leaves, then you want to start setting them outside for longer and longer periods of time until the weather and ground is finally warm enough to plant them. The one with true leaves you can start doing now. Wait on the others. You can lift your lids a bit if it looks like your getting to much condensation in the jugs. We're about in the same zone, so you're still a bit early. Do watch that they don't get to hot during the day. Sounds like you're going to have plenty to do shortly :)
I'm running way behind the power curve this year, but got my new seed racks up this weekend. My new heat mats and thermostat should be in soon, (I hope) UPS just ruined the first ones I ordered. But we both still have time. I'm mainly concerned about my tomatoes and peppers, I'm doing heirloom seed this year and I'm dying to try this out. LOL
Please do record your ws information on the new ws database that's being compiled here at Daves. This stuff is important for the future. :)
rebecca30
Cary, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
1:04 AM

Post #4668873

hehe well, I have always had my WSing milk jugs outside from the start. So does that count as already hardening off? :o)

Here are a few of mine. The olders ones been outside since end of Dec and then I just keep adding more jugs outside each weekend.

Thumbnail by rebecca30
Click the image for an enlarged view.

doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
1:10 AM

Post #4668897

No, no, honey. You don't want all your hard work to go for nothing. Those seedlings are just babies, you have to treat them gently and there are no short cuts with this deal. :) Just remember to double check the jugs regularly. As it warms up, they'll have more sun on them, you don't want to toast them. For that you can remove the lids for awhile so the air can circulate. You may buy yourself a little "cheat" time when it comes to planting, since they will probably be longer and stronger earlier.
LorraineR
Gilmer, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 16, 2008
5:21 AM

Post #4669634

I've got some plants in mine that are 6 inches tall, so I opened them up more, you know, took the lid off the milk jugs and make big opening s in the Saran Wrap on the other containers.

We've had one big rain since I started doing that and they seem to be ok. Did I mess up.? Some of them already have blooms We did have one night that got down to 29 and I threw blankets over them till the next morning.

This message was edited Mar 16, 2008 12:30 AM
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

March 16, 2008
5:39 AM

Post #4669682

You are doing fine! Thats the way to do it :)
kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 17, 2008
2:56 AM

Post #4672968

I pop the top when the weather warms, and only close it if nights go below freezing. They get morning sun only, works well for me here.

Karen

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 17, 2008
1:31 PM

Post #4674002

[quote] Ok, to harden them off means that one they get their set of true leaves, then you want to start setting them outside for longer and longer periods of time until the weather and ground is finally warm enough to plant them. [/quote]

WAIT A MINUTE Doccat5, I'm confused now. I thought the whole idea of winter sowing was that there was no muss, no fuss of hardening off, grow lights, heat mats like starting seedlings indoors. Sounds like you are referring to that practice.

kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 17, 2008
1:44 PM

Post #4674050

Yes, I assumed that doccat was referring to indoor grown seedlings.You are confusing wintersowers on the wintersowing forum, doccat!

Karen
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 17, 2008
1:50 PM

Post #4674064

I think Cat might have meant "taking their lids off" rather than "setting them outside"... ?

They're already hardened off -- mostly -- in their winter sowing containers. But if they go from their sheltered containers straight into a sunny, windy spot or encounter freezing temperatures on their first night out, they'll get shocky. It's a less drastic change than it would be for an indoor seedling, but it's still a pretty big difference when the lid comes off. Tender annuals (anything that would die when fall frost arrives) can't take a frost even if it's not their first night out.

Some people acclimate their WS seedlings to complete outside conditions by gradually enlarging the vent holes in the containers. I do the same thing Karen does, "pop the top when the weather warms, and only close it if nights go below freezing."

Just think in terms of changing their growing conditions gradually... right now, they're sheltered from wind and staying warmer at night because of the lids, and you've probably got them where they get some shade (to keep them from cooking in the afternoon sun). You don't want to change that all at once.

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 17, 2008
2:15 PM

Post #4674174

Okay, thanks Jill and Karen. I thought I was really in trouble. I just did my winter sowing this weekend. I know, i know, really really late. But at least I'll have my seeds all in one area, no birds, etc. This is the first time for me, so I only did a few.
kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 17, 2008
3:22 PM

Post #4674422

I often do increase the size and/or number of holes around this time of year. But when it gets really warm, I open the jug and then only close for freezing weather. I really do "pop the top" fairly early because our sun can get pretty hot, even in spring. I don't really do much in terms of acclimating the seedlings, except, on the first day or 2 after planting out, I might give them some shade with a chair or something if it's really hot out there. I find that most things will do a lot better with a rather cold environment than a too hot one. They might not grow fast but at least they don't cook.

I don't know what kind of weather you're having in NC now rebecca, but if nights are above freezing I would open them but keep attached at the hinge so you can flip closed in case of frost. And if those sprouted containers are in full sun, I'd move to part shade.

Karen
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 17, 2008
4:07 PM

Post #4674576

Mrs_Ed, I don't think you're particularly late for wintersowing. I think you're pretty much on schedule.

There are a few things that need a lengthy cold/moist stratification (like 10 or 12 weeks) and time may be short for those, but many seeds still have a lot of time to work loose their seed coats, especially if you are in northern Illinois where there is still a bit of winter and cool weather ahead.

Yes, I think some of the terms can be confusing. I was caught confused a few times, too, on this WS forum. Some regard all sowing of seeds by whatever method in wintertime 'wintersowing'. But I think of "Wintersowing" (and the discussion on this forum) as using the vented Milk Jugs or containers and setting them outside in a sort of protected area and checking them from time to time for extra moisture and light needs as the weather changes (as Trudi Davidoff explains on her website 'Wintersown.org').

To keep the posts clear for myself, I call the Indoor seed starting 'Under Lights' and the traditional sowing seeds right into the garden 'Direct Sowing'. And the "Seed Germination" and the "Propagation" forums have good discussions on 'Under Lights' methods and also on 'Direct Sowing' which I find very helpful when I use those methods.

Well, I think I went on too long with this, but I am excited about Wintersowing, too, and want to put the word out on it. I have lots of containers underway, but plenty more to do, too!



Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 17, 2008
5:07 PM

Post #4674850

Well that's good to hear that I'm not too late. I'm looking at this first year as an experiment, so don't laugh at my picture of just a few containers. I have a small garden anyway!

Most of my seeds were sitting in the unheated garage all winter (or two, or three, hee hee). So hopefully there was enough cold anyway.

Thumbnail by Mrs_Ed
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LorraineR
Gilmer, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 17, 2008
6:12 PM

Post #4675077

I have some home made greenhouses, aquariums with out tops, then found window panes to put on top. I started just shifing the tops a little and now keep them uncovered unless it freezes. Some of them have been outgrowing posts, so I've gone ahead and set some of them where they will be planted to let them get use to it.

I also have what seems like thousands of milk jusgs and stuff and some of them I had to open cause the plants were getting too tall,

I; hope we don't have another freeze, don't think so, but I can see me out there trying to cover all those things up.
rebecca30
Cary, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 18, 2008
1:05 AM

Post #4676439

Mrs Ed, cool pic.

rebecca30
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 18, 2008
9:40 AM

Post #4677547


Mrs_Ed, Your WS project looks very neat and concise and sane! I am sure you will have loads of success with it and you won't be overwhelmed with seedlings like I will be in a month or so--wondering what in the world I was thinking!?! Kudos on your restraint!!
kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 18, 2008
7:58 PM

Post #4679367

tabasco: How many containers do you have out there?

Karen
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 18, 2008
9:43 PM

Post #4679729


How many do I have? Oh, it depends on how you count them...

I've got these bins...

Thumbnail by tabasco
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 18, 2008
9:44 PM

Post #4679736


And these bins...

Thumbnail by tabasco
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 18, 2008
9:55 PM

Post #4679774


And about 10 more bins outdoors not pictured...

About half our bins are filled with 6" plastic nursery pots or peat pots with a variety of different seeds in them. The other half are filled directly with potting mix and planted with just one or two kinds of seeds. (Assorted size bins--some big and deep-- about 38" x 24" x 18"--down to the size of large shoe boxes.)

Plus I have my 'Under lights' seedlings-- about 8 flats including some tomatoes, zinnias, Japanese morning glories, assorted salvias, herbs, and tithonia. These flats under lights are requiring a lot of attention. I don't know why I started these. I guess I got a little over excited but it's fun to learn how to germinate seeds.

I haven't wintersowed my annuals yet. Am waiting for this rain to let up. (-:

Thumbnail by tabasco
Click the image for an enlarged view.

kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 18, 2008
10:19 PM

Post #4679857

t: You should definitely have enough plants this year.

Karen

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 18, 2008
10:19 PM

Post #4679858

LOL Tabasco!!! Now I know why you told me I had restraint!
LorraineR
Gilmer, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 19, 2008
1:39 AM

Post #4680637

Gosh, and I thought I had a lot of them germinating!!! You win.

I've taken to germinating in paper towels and baggies.
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 19, 2008
1:59 AM

Post #4680699


Oh, yes. I have my seeds in the freezer and the fridge in moist perlite in zip locs germinating too.

At least this year I'm not taping my coffee filters on the front windows trying to germinate my seeds (Deno method).

My DH had a fit when I was doing that last year. It worked, too.
LorraineR
Gilmer, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 19, 2008
4:35 AM

Post #4681261

Ok, what about the window. How is that done? Guess I haven't heard that one. I think I can see it, and if I'm right I bet your windows looks great from the outside.

I put some in paper towels a couple weeks ago and I guess one of them fell off on the floor where I couldn't see it. Went in and saw it today, poor little seeds had germinated and found a spot I didn't seal it up and were climbing out of it. You would have thought it was some kind of space alien.
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 19, 2008
10:56 AM

Post #4681544



Ha, ha. You must really have a green thumb to have that happen.

Well, if the seeds need light and warmth to germinate, take the seed filled moist coffee filters and tape them to the window panes on the sunny side of the house.

Quite an elegant look from the outside.
tggfisk
Garner, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 19, 2008
11:11 AM

Post #4681564

Oh, tabasco...You shouldn't have said that, LOL! Guess what we're gonna do? I have enough to plant out now...and you're NOT helping *mania setting in!* I spent an entire Saturday setting out hos-poppies- and didn't make a dent in my containers. Clunk!! That's the sound of the other shoe dropping;-)
Susan_C
Alameda, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 19, 2008
3:58 PM

Post #4682401

For things that need warmth, I put the baggie/coffee filter on top of the fridge. -I stick the baggies inside of tea boxes with the lids ripped off to keep the baggie upright.
LorraineR
Gilmer, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 19, 2008
5:40 PM

Post #4682764

I'm sure people come from miles around to see your decorations, I'm almost to that point running out of room for even ptowels. Someone said to put the baggies on top of your lights and it gives them some warmth, and it worked. Some that was taking a long time to sprout really started coming out.

Also, don't worry if you drop them. I dropped a big gallon one and I know the seeds got all mixed up so I left it anyway, now there are sprouts coming out the side on the bottom, everywhere!

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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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