Asking for your experiences?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

This past year was my first time wintersowing and I did mainly herbals and vegetables. I felt that for the first time ever, I was wildly successful starting all these vegies from seed. I don't believe I will ever purchase vegetable plants again thanks to wintersowing.

That said, I want to start saving containers for the coming wintersowing season so am asking for your experiences. Would a frosty plastic jug (like a milk jug) work better than a clear plastic jug? Any thoughts or input would be appreciated.

pod ~ who is getting ready to haul a load to the plastics recyclers.

Thumbnail by podster
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Pod~I use regular milk jugs and they worked beautifully. I collected mine through the winter and had enough leftover to trade at the last RU. I've been saving mine already this year for the coming sowing season.

Do you think I could start my fall tomatoes by 'winter sowing' during the summer? Did you start your veggies in the winter or early, early spring? I'm intrigued....

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi Stephanie ~ I had used both frosted milk jugs and clear juice jugs. Because I had used them to start different seeds, I didn't have any comparisons and wondered if one works better than the other.

I hadn't thought about starting fall tomatoes at all. I am hoping to keep the spring crops going thru fall. I received a selection of seed from Wintersown.org that were better suited for the southern climate. Also some from a MS DGr. I am growing both smaller plants and indeterminate plants. I realize they may not bloom/produce in the heat of summer but should rebound in the fall. I really didn't consider fall 'maters. I may though now that you planted the seeds of thought. I suspect wintersowing planting would fry them in the TX heat. The containers would have to be in the shade (bright shade) and would require a lot of water I would bet.

I did my wintersowing beginning Feb 1st and continued thru Feb 17th. Was afraid it was a bit late but seemed to work out this year. I shared lots of seedlings with friends and when we had frosts they told me these tomatoes didn't suffer as much as the storebought plants. I think the tomatoes were hardier than purchased plants.

I am excited... No, empowered now! LOL

This message was edited May 24, 2009 3:40 PM

Cumberland Mtns, TN(Zone 6b)

I know this reply is months after the post, but....

I couldnt tell a difference between clear or clouded jugs. I just don't recommend using gallon bags, like it was mentioned on the WS.org site. it was a major waste of bags, my seeds, and time! That said, i'm already saving milk jugs.

I sowed more perennials and annuals than i did veggies. Not next year!

So, its september. i have 3 or 4 jugs that i didn't have room to plant and couldn't bear to throw away. Do you know that there are peppers growing in a milk jug?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Nanniepb ~ I appreciate your sharing your experiences. I've not tried the baggies and appreciate that advise. I will gladly learn from others experience ~ thank you.

I didn't do any bloomers this year but concentrated on veggies and herbs. This has been a learning curve for me and I have enjoyed it immensely. I think I will stick with the clouded jugs as milk jugs are plentiful at my house. I don't think I will feel pressured to start the seeds earlier as Feb plantings seemed to work out well in this zone.

How much soil did you have in your containers that you have managed to keep them alive all summer much less delivering peppers? Amazing!

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Most of us find that a minimum of 3" of potting mix is best. Less than that, it dries out too fast when weather turns warm. In Texas, that could be a big concern, so I'd make it good and deep.

Karen

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Karen ~ that is about how deep I used but can't imagine keeping plants in it thru summer. It would take ever so much moisture here. For sprouting that depth worked fine.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

True, Podster. Even here, once the warm weather arrives, it takes a lot of babysitting to maintain moisture. Keeping them in shade, or dappled shade, helps a lot. Another issue, dependling on number of seedlings/container, root depth could be a problem too.

Karen

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I had wondered about the amount sown in a container. This spring our rain was limited and I did have to water the containers a few times.

I found it was more successful to water them from bottom. I set the containers in a tub of water and let the soil draw the moisture up. If I tried to water (even carefully) from above, the seedlings would be swished around.

pod, kqcrna, may I ask what potting mix you use-bought, home-made?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I used a mix of fine compost, sterile organic potting/seed starting mix, and a good potting mix (w/ no Miracle Grow or other chemicals). I also used milk jugs. DH drilled drain holes in the bottom and holes around the mouth of the jug to let air, light, and water in. We filled the jugs with between 2"-3" of soil, set them on the east side of the house and let them go to town. I planted about 20 jugs and all but 3 germinated. I think one didn't have any seeds in it!! LOL

Thumbnail by stephanietx
Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

For the first 3 years I used the compressed bales of Pro-Mix. It's compressed to 3.8 cu. ft. and expands to 7 cu. ft. One of those goes a long way. I used to buy it @ Home Depot but they didn't have it this year. (They had ONLY Miracle Grow). I couldn't find my Pro-Mix anywhere locally.

Last year I used both Fafard and Metro-Mix and liked them both. But I'd still rather buy one huge compressed bale of Pro-Mix if I could find it.

I have used MG, small bags here and there when I ran out of my others. It worked OK, but I'd rather avoid it if possible. I think my feelings are pretty subjective there though, partially politically motivated. Lots of folks love MG.

Karen

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Stephanie, we cross-posted.

I don't use MG either. I try to keep my soil organic, no chemicals and no pesticides.

Karen

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't have anything against MG per se, but I'm just not okay with chemicals. I try to do everything organically, but I might resort to chemicals for these cucumber beetles that we can't seem to get rid of! LOL

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Colie ~ for wintersowing, I used what I use for my house plants. Sungro by Sunshine... it is a peat based potting mix. In my opinion, you can use a more expensive blend as you use a limited amount in these jugs.

Stephanie ~ your jugs look so neat and orderly. Now I am embarassed that I posted that ugly jug photo. LOL

I didn't have any other openings drilled at the top. The jug acted like a greenhouse with condensation running down the sides and adding moisture to the soil.

A cordless drill would be handy for drainage holes. I wasn't thinking but rather took a stiff bladed knife and jabbed it (carefully) thru the bottom of the jug in all four corners and then, when it went thru, I torqued it. The twisting made larger drainage openings. I will try this fall to remember to use the drill, the drill, the drill.... lol What clever way did you have to slice the jugs open?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL Pattie! DH did all the hard work. We first drew a line on the jug 3/4 of the way around the jug. Then, he used a box opener to slice the jug.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Meant to attach a pic showing the 3/4 cut. This one's already been loaded with soil and was ready for seeds to be planted. Here's a post from my blog about how I did it. Of course, though, I don't have any pics of DH doing the "work".

He did use a smaller bit for the holes on top and on the bottom. We had lots of condensation and such on the inside, even with the holes on top.

Thumbnail by stephanietx
Winterville, GA(Zone 7b)

I save all my quart and gallon size milk jugs and went to Lowe's and purchased the cheapest potting soil I could find, mixed some compost and peat moss into it. I used a punch to make the drainage holes in the bottom, cut the jugs 3/4's of the way around, planted the seeds and sealed with duct tape. Been doing it that way for 4 years. Oh, I also stuck the plant tags in the soil so that half of it was in and half of the tag was outside out before I sealed with the duct tape. That way I could easily see what was in the jug. I used a #2 pencil and wrote the plant name on cut up mini blind slats. I've had around 70 jugs every year, but I'm really gonna downsize this year. It just got to be too time consuming to plant all the seedlings!

I've tried clear soda and juice bottles, but the bottoms are recessed, which makes it very difficult to remove the clump of soil with all the seedlings and keep it intact.

This message was edited Sep 6, 2009 7:23 PM

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Frausnow, I'm thinking the gallon milk jugs and vinegar jugs are best suited. Smaller juice bottles needed more water here and I may be wrong but felt the new sprouts liked the frosted jug better than the clear.

For marking my containers, I just wrote on the outside of the jug. It lasted until planted.

Cumberland Mtns, TN(Zone 6b)

Our part of TN had an over abundance of rain this year so I think thats why my peppers survived in the jug.

I wasnt so neat with my cutting or making holes, even taping it shut...I figure Mother Nature isn't when she's blowing seeds around either, lol. And i didnt even cover my seeds with more soil! i just tried to sprinkle them evenly. it seems like the sloppier I was, the better it worked. i know...crazy!

Marking the outside didnt work for me...they faded in the sun. One of the best tips I read on DG was to put the labels inside a zip lock bag to keep it dry, then insert it right below the soil line. last year, i used sandwich bags and it was major overkill. you had to roll it, squeeze the air out, then it was too long to stick in the dirt, or you had to fold it in half, etc. etc. I even saved them to recycle again this year, but I think i'll use those small jewelry/bead bags like we use for seed trading. WalMart sells 100 of them for 99 cents i think. But I'll make a two sided label: a dark, easy to read one word label to see thru the jug and on other side i'll write the entire name and color, etc.

I'll try to explain more/better later. i'm rambling

I hope later in the year someone starts another 'what i learned about WS' this year thread. thats where i got the best understanding of what to do for my first year of WS.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Label your jugs with paint pen. It won't fade.

Karen

Thumbnail by kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

My husband helped me plant out several years ago. Several of his plant labels remain in my flower bed, still perfectly legible 2 or 3 years later. Paint pen.

This is what happens when husbands help.

Karen

Thumbnail by kqcrna
Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL Karen ~ what a sense of humor ~ Beetlejuice (?) plants? I like it! Looks like you used cut up plastic containers for markers. I did the same but used a #2 pencil. It is totally fade proof.

NanniePB ~ I followed the rambling... especially more/better! Lived in east TX too long ~ LOL I was wonder while reading your post if a plastic wrap might serve the purpose of a baggie?

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I use the cardboard(for lack of a better term)egg cartons for the quick growing veggies(squash,cukes,melons,etc) that are generaly big enough to set out 2-3 weeks after sewing. I sew 2-3 seeds per cell and thin out once I see which will be the stockiest. Just tear or cut the lid off the carton,I put it under the "egg cell" part so it'll be a little stouter for handling once damp. Once the little plant is ready to go in the garden,I just pull each cell apart from the others and pop them in the ground,cell and all because the roots will grow right thur it. I very seldom use any kind of cover because I have a greenhouse that protects them from the elements. If I do have them outside,I put them in nursery flats the flip another flat over the top and secure the two together w/ twist ties or those zippy things you use for bundle wire and cables....keeps the dang squirrels from destory them and you don't have to take the top tray off to water.

For tomatoes,peppers,eggplants and such that take a little more time,I start them in anything that has enough deepth for the roots. throw away alunimum(sp?)roasting pans(and these more often that not come w/ clear lids),those big clear plastic clam shell containers,cakes,cookies or pies come in from bakery. When they get to the 4 true leaves,I plant them out into tall(16oz?) styrofoam cups but I only fill the cup half full w/ potting mix so as the plant grows I can add more soil around the stem so by the time they're ready to set out,they have a good root system. You don't need a label,just write your info on the lip of the cup then when it's time to set them out,cut off an inch or two from the bottom,set in the ground with2-3 inches above ground so you can see the name writen on the cup and that part sticking out serves as protection from cutworms.

Peggy

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Now THAT is efficiency at its' best! I think allowing the tomatoes to establish such good root systems with make them endure our climate better. Do eggplants and peppers do the same thing, growing roots along the buried stems?

On the egg cartons, the only kind sold locally is out of styrofoam so I dare not plant them in ground without removing the carton. I need to punch holes in them too or they will become waterlogged.

P ~ you don't have the squirrels trying to gnaw thru the plastic tops or trays you attach? Sounds like squirrel season needs to open. Guess I am blessed with too many dogs/cats. They keep the squirrels up in the trees where they belong.

Cynthia (N. Kansas C, MO(Zone 5b)

This is a great thread! I have a room that is filling up rapidly with milk jugs and clear pop bottles. Also saving the containers I buy roasted chickens in as the bottom is about 2-3 inches and the top is quite high. If anyone looked in that bedroom, they'd think I was crazy...lol. Well, maybe there's a point here I shouldn't be making! :^))

Hi again to you Podster! How Pod doing?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Hope you don't have any surprise company coming... lol I'm so bad, I look twice at everything before I toss it.

Pod & pod ~ both doing great & wonderful! 8 )

Cumberland Mtns, TN(Zone 6b)

Podster...i thought saran wrap might not be as waterproof. I bought the cheapest bags there are from the dollar stores. lol. and it seems like they keep multiplying.....i cant get rid of them!

pain pen? like the kind you repair knicks on your washing machine, car? lol I dont get out much.

I think i learned about #2 pencil after the fact...mayhaps (i love that word) i will try that this year. you know....it was all good, no matter what. its all about learning/trying something new, yanno?

I have a basement that I dont go downstairs very often. I took old clothesline and made a thing like fishermen use when they catch fish and run that thing thru their mouths or gills, and then throw it back in the water? well, I run the next milk jug onto the rope, and just let the line go down the stairs. then i hook the end/loop back on the wall, and my jugs are out of site, dry. but.....I am gonna start cutting the tops and making drain holes before i put them down there. so i wont have that prep to do next year.

lol......like i have soooo much to do now ;)

Cumberland Mtns, TN(Zone 6b)

oh, another thing i did was to keep my jugs in boxes. (learned that from DG too. that one might have came from Karen....I remember seeing her name alot )

that kept them from blowing away AND the wet boxes helped the jugs to not dry out so quick. also, it made it easier to carry outside when i had a full box of sowing. my potting shed was my kitchen for the most part!

I filled my jugs with potting mix... for most of them, I gave them all a good soaking, either in the sink or anything they could drain into for several hours, if not overnight. sowed the seeds then taped them shut, etc.

here where i took some out of the boxes one sunny day when i started hardening them off. you can see how wet the box was. poor boxes, LOL they held together just long enough


Thumbnail by nanniepb
Cumberland Mtns, TN(Zone 6b)

PS. Big Red....those ideas are 'keepers' too, lol. literally.

i did perennials and herbs. well, peppers and tomatoes too. but next year, i'm not sowing any seeds in my big garden....only plants. thats the plan anyhow.

i better hush. i'm hogging the thread and i'm supposed to be working on a quilt since its wet outside.

ive enjoyed this thread =)

Cynthia (N. Kansas C, MO(Zone 5b)

I hadn't even thought of getting the jugs ready now by cutting and drilling them. Duhhhhhhh. Novice here, newbie, duhhh X 2. Nanniepb, I can't wait until next spring to see if mine look like that! Of course, I'm afraid I'll be the only person in the US who can't winter sow, LOL. Cynthia

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

pod,
Yes,peppers and eggplants form roots along the stem just like tomatoes.

You need to get on your local egg sources about those dang styrofoam cartons. The fiber/cardboard kind will decompose in the landfill......if your not into recycling via veggie growing.

nannie,
I'm all about getting as much use from items as I can. Another one of my favorites is to cut the middle out of the bleach bottle then cut them into strips for labels,use the top as a funnel or scoop(with lid on) and the bottom for a saucer under potted plants to catch drips.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Aha! Large margarine tubs work well for plant labels too.

Cynthia ~ after you have spent hours on end cutting the jugs, it would have occured to you to do one at a time when you empty them. Experience speaking ~ been there, done that! 8 ))

Nanniepb ~ hog this thread all you want... there is always something new to learn from others. Sow only plants in your garden ~ I agree. I'll NEVER buy more plants and make a vow to share many of my wintersown veggie plants with others.

Peggy just taught me that eggplant and peppers will develop roots as they grow. Only difference is they will demand warmer weather than the 'maters.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

nanniepb: I might have been the one to suggest the boxes, I've done it for years. My area is very windy and in my first year WSing I found that smaller containers, like 2 liter pop bottles or 1/2 gallon milk jugs got blown over by the wind.

Now, I use gallon milk jugs almost exclusively because they work best for me and require less babysitting. They've never been harmed by wind in 4 years. I put mine in sterilite containers (or half of my big dog cage) because they are easy to move around the yard, too. One is an underbed storage box that I sometimes use to contain cups of individual last-minute annuals.

Karen

Thumbnail by kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

winter

Thumbnail by kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

spring

Thumbnail by kqcrna
Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

That would work really well in colder areas. Here we received frequent rains and the boxes would have to drain or the jugs would stay soggy. Amazing to see how our wintersowing style needs to be tweaked for the area we are in. Fortunately, here I am sheltered by woods so it breaks up most winds.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I put my jugs on the east side of the house so the house acts as a windblock. They get morning sun and afternoon shade. Also, last year, I started in February and most of our "bad" weather had already passed.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

podster: My sterilite bins have drainage holes drilled in the bottom and on the lids.

Karen

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Now that makes sense. Sorry, I didn't notice holes in your spring picture.

Stephanie ~ we actually get some hefty winds in Feb here but putting them on a sheltered side of the house is good. I know you receive a lot more tough weather as far as cold & wind.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.
BACK TO TOP