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.
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...
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 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?
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! :^))
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
it's all pretty miraculous, if you think about it. I told my friend that i'm just tempted to go around this fall (one of those months that end in 'R' as I heard the 'plant ladies' on the radio talk about ) and throw seeds in my beds and see what happens.
my thinking is Mother Nature drops and blows seeds around and they come up next year.
maybe i'll throw half of my seeds outside and half in jugs. lol.
This is a good forum. I just didn't have much time to visit it as much as i'd like to. I guess I thought it was a winter thing, but its good to talk about these things so i won't forget, lol.
ps, Podster...that poppy was gorgeous. what kind is that?
here is a shot from the UT Gardens. I hope people will see the humor in this and not think this is what we (tennesseans) consider 'art'. but it was fun to see. they had sunflowers growing in the bed. my other favorite flower.
The smell of Cleome reminds me of skunk, or rather the dog after an encounter with one!
I made a couple of big mistakes with the wintersowing this year, the biggest of which was moving the jugs from the deck onto the ground in April. The slugs devoured seedlings like mad! They crawled right out of the lawn at night, into the jugs, which was never a problem on the deck. So next year I'll content myself with a deck full of jugs for a little longer. Another result of moving the jugs, a bunch were under a crabapple with tent caterpillars I hadn't noticed. When those started falling out of the tree, a bunch fell right into jugs and started feasting.
The other mistake I make every year, not good enough records. I'm so bad about that! The thing I really wish I'd kept records on was my growing mix. I used a peaty mix for a bunch, and a free draining mix with a lot of fine bark for the rest. Some things loved the peaty mix, some didn't, some loved the barky mix, some didn't. I remember noticing something (although now I can't even recall what it was!) that hadn't done well for me the year before in Miracle Grow, was so much happier with the free draining mix.
Ok, my resolution for next year is better records!
Gemini, you had yours on a deck - I assume the deck wasn't covered? We have a large awning over ours, which I think makes it so I can't have ours on the deck cause of the lack of rain, so guess mine will go out in the yard.
We also have slugs, heck we have everything ishy, so what do youdo to keep the slugs away? Just put out slug killer in a circle around the jugs?
I'd planned to use Miracle Grow since I can get it inexpensively at our local Sam's - what do I need to add into it? Thanks, Cynthia
Our deck isn't covered, so they got plenty of natural moisture. I ended up dusting the area with Diatomaceous earth, and that helped till after a few rains. But on the deck they weren't a problem, I saw a few slugs, but no major damage like this year (whole jugs of seedlings wiped out).
I don't think anything needs to be added to Miracle Grow mix, for most things it works fine. I just remembered one thing that preferred a freer draining mix over the peaty types (like MG), Penstemons! They tend to prefer dryer soils with excellent drainage, so that makes sense. If you have some seeds for plants that prefer dryer conditions, you may want to amend MG soil with some fine bark or grit for better drainage.
I researched slugs a few years ago. Seems they become active in spring when the soil temp reaches around 40 degrees. I monitor the soil temp, and when it gets to around 40, I start treating with iron phosphate. I treat all my planting beds 2 or 3 times, several weeks apart, starting in early spring. Since I keep my jugs on my patio, I also sprinkle iron phosphate around the borders of the patio. No slug damage anymore.
My county sprayed BT from helicopters last summer to treat for tent caterpillars and we had very few of them this year. But one did get into 2 of the jugs of seedlings I had started this summer. He had apparently started with the penstemon (half of them were gone) and he was working on rudbeckia in the next jug when I caught him in the act and slaughtered him.
What is iron phosphate, Karen, and where do I get it? I definitely will want to do that before anything starts growing next spring cause the slugs can be notorious here in the spring. Thanks for the advice. I surely do enjoy DG though I read so many threads now it takes me days to get through them it seems, LOL.
Iron phosphate is less toxic to humans, animals, birds, and beneficial insects than most slug poisons. It breaks down to iron, which plants need anyway. When treating for slugs, it takes a VERY SCANT sprinkling for it to be effective. Some more common brand names are Escar-go and Sluggo, but many different brands are showing up in garden centers. Just look for slug baits with iron phosphate as the active ingredient.
You can also set traps- small bowls of beer buried level with the soil, they supposedly crawl in and die. I never did that- slimey boogers aren't getting my beer. A board placed flat on top of the soil will catch them too, then just squish them.
But iron phosphate works a lot faster, gets more of them, and quickly.
I agree with you - I'd rather spread the IP around and let that kill them. I don't think I could squish them - maybe pour salt on them and watch the lil boogers sizzle? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww is all I can say! LOL
In reading thru that I will say I won't wintersow cucumbers again. Two different kinds and they did NOT like it. They also germinate far too easily to worry with wintersowing.
I also found that when the growth began, I needed to provide protection from freezing as some tender plants got killed from freezes. After that, I carried the more tender sprouted containers to a sheltered location. I suspect a person could also cover the jugs. Mine may have frozen more quickly as I had them on shelves off the ground level due to dogs and fireants.
There!!! Are ya saving jugs yet, Mamajack? 8 $
Gymgirl ~ where have you been lately? Been missing running into you in the forums too...
Been lurking, learning about wintersowing, which I seriously hope to do this time round. Here's a planting schedule for Arizona Zone 9a that mimics our schedules. I'll be closely following this chart for my winter sowing. I'll also be watching you and Mamajack!
the things that already reseed themselves here are poppies and zinnia. and hibiscus cannabinus. which is the coolest plant. a bit large so not for small gardens. oh and millet. blasted ruellia. in blue and white. and yvonne's salvia. and yall mine got at least 5 ft tall just like up north. so texas reigns yet with having the biggest. lol. a purply green really pretty plant that i can't think of the name. it gets really big too. and loses it's purply colors. larkspur.
i didn't winter sow last year but the year before. i had good luck with quite a few things but i can't remember now what i sowed. one was carnations. good germinaton rate i thought. red buckeye.
Gymgirl ~ glad to know your are still amongst us dreamers. How is your DHs' Auntie? I saw your post on her health issues.
Nanniepb ~ what is a dining room table? or floor for that matter? Right now, I got into some plant swaps which are great. I get to unload some plants in time for winter but am getting paid back by the traders. They are getting rid of some before winter too. Where on earth will I put them all... lol
Mamajack ~ are you going to try some vegies & herbs this year? Or are you only doing bloomers?
I've not used bleach jugs. Anyone? As they aren't clear, how well would they transmit light.
Thanks for inquiring about Aunt Bea. She ate a full plate stewed chicken, rice & gravy, potato salad, and apple pie this past Sunday. Of course it was a contraband plate that I sneaked in only because she was refusing to eat the hospital food and her strength was waning.
Well. I think she's bouncing back, praise God! They're getting her up and walking this week.
Meanwhile, the 83-yr-old twins continue to pick at each other, and I'm agonizing that I run home to cook dinner for them every evening, and by the time we finish it's almost 8:00 p.m. and pitch black outside.
The only thing this time change is doing for me is waking me up at 4:30 a.m. every morning. I figure next week I may as well get started back in the gym, so I can begin living up to my name -- again...
That has been on my mind lately with my 91 YO Mom. She does not have Altzhiemers but rather seems to have Sometimers disease. It seems I always am mediating between her and my siblings (long distance). Some of her antics... and some are intentional make me think how childlike we become as we get older. Hence, vintage children and I am on my way...
I tell ya'll, I'm am learning a LOT of life lessons about being "vintage." I just pray that I HEED these examples, and start making some changes NOW, so that I can enter into those "vintage" years in a far better state.
Like these lessons:
Hold your friends and family dear and close -- you'll need them later!
Keep moving, even when it hurts -- the minute you stop moving, you won't move again!
Cut out the sugar and the salt now -- a mountain of health issues could be avoided!
DRINK THE WATER NOW -- my urinary tract and my skin will thank me later!
Participate in activities that bring you joy -- nothing is worse than having nothing to do except being in vintage condition and having nothing to do...
FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS -- old age is not the time to irritate people with how YOU want to do things in THEIR home...
Buy the best clothes you can afford NOW, so they'll still be classics and you can still look sharp when you're old and penniless...
Get PLENTY of exercise now, and keep on exercising till you freeze up or die (you'll have to fit into those clothes...)
Be VERY careful who you put in charge of your finances if you're down -- I've heard horror stories from these Aunties of how their life savings have been wiped out by relatives they trusted...
Be FLEXIBLE. Rigidity in the vintage years is like the oak tree and the willow tree against a hurricane -- the flexible willow bends and stands to weather the next storm -- the stubborn oak tree snaps in defiance of the wind!
Sorry for hijacking the thread, but I guess I needed to get these thoughts out of my head...these are my experiences.
No way ~ I think you need to keep those thoughts IN YOUR HEAD! Those are excellent thoughts... one my Mom always said was you needed to cultivate younger friends as you age... otherwise you will be alone if you outlive your friends.
Um I found a great way to "drill" the holes in the milk jugs. Quick. I used a hot phillips screwdriver. I put it on the kitchen burner. It went really quickly, too! Also, It is better to burn the holes before you cut the jug. I finished about 25 jugs 2day. Linda
I cut the jug open first, then place on a piece of scrap wood. Then it's very solid and I stab through the bottom of the jug with somethng (whatever I grab- knife, utility knife) and put something (usually skinny scissors) thru holes into wood and twist. Done.
We know how important it is to have those milk jugs washed out with soap and water when they are first emptied. Just in case somebody is saving them for us or we happened upon somebody's recycle bin and find the jugs have not been washed out, what is recommended to get that horrible odor out? Soap and water and vinegar, or bleach? Baking soda?
I'm getting mine from Starbucks, so quite a few are stinky. I just wash em after I cut em open... And, no, the hot plastic wasn't stinky - just hot standing so near the burner after awhile! Now, somebody tell me again why we do this? Linda
Gymgirl... we had a discussion about this 2 yrs ago i think... about the toxicity of the melted plastic. The few times i did that, i made sure the vent fan was on over the stove... that seemed to help.
I too get some from Starbucks... sometimes they dont get washed out and may sit in the bag at the basement sink for a few days... and then they will get stinky... but otherwise, I only rinse.
Thanks for the reminder! Glad I didn't keel over!
Thanks for the reminder! I'm hoping to winter sow as many of my veggie seeds as I can. I spent an aweful lot of money on seedlings I lost last season. This year I spent a little bit of $ for a whole lotta seeds. Hoping to grow good sturdy seedlings and resell em to my co-workers who are gardeners. I figure if places can sell em for $3.50/seedling, I certainly have a shot at selling em for at least $1-2. Don't need a profit. Just enough to cover my own gardening expenses!
I just have to remember which veggies get winter sowed and which ones get direct sowed!
P.S. Have you ever tried winter sowing any tomato plants? I'd really rather not go through the whole indoor, light stand process this time. The DH is on the warpath about our electricity bill. And, while you and I know it only costs pennies a day to run the fluorescent lights, my DH will swear that's what's jacking up the bill! So, to avoid that argument, I'm leaning toward trying to winter sow my tomato seeds.
I'm hearing that anytime after December 21st (Winter Solstice) is a "go" date for winter sowing? I'll put some of the tomato seedlings out then, and more sowing sometime after January 9th for planting out starting the last weekend in February. I'm gonna be brave and bold this planting season, and truly push the weather envelope!
Absolutely on wintersowing the tomato seeds. I had never started them from seed before and was so happy with the results, I will never purchase plants again. I don't know if they are still offering but http://www.wintersown.org/wseo1/index.html was giving out free tomato seeds. You could select the kind you wanted to try or as I did, I just asked them to select some that were suitable to this zone. They sent so many that I won't need to buy any for a while. There should be no electricity necessary. The only thing I did when they began to sprout was provide protection on frosty nights. You shouldn't get too many frosty nights in your area. I didn't sow till the beginning of Feb here as our "in the ground dates" are later.
I don't have any experience with cups, are you covering them? I imagine you would only put one seed to a cup and feel that would work fine. I started mine around the 1st of Feb. and they were still a bit early for the cool temps.
I'm gonna use my milk jugs to sow each individual variety, keeping careful track of what's what. I'll just sow liberally, then separate when it's time to pot up. I'm gonna sow seeds on Saturday, January 9th.
According to the WS website, I don't need to wait for true leaves to form before transplanting, so as soon as those cotlyedons??? show (and MAYBE the two true leaves peek out), I'm gonna transplant them to 16 oz. cups. I'll use the cup itself as a WS vessel to protect the seedling. All the better if I can get lids to fit. I'll transplant to eBuckets by February 6th and to the EBs by Feb 27th. Later for the EBs since there's not protection. Although (I DO love this brainstorming with ya'll!) I did just read on the WS site about using water bottles as clotches?? Hmmm. That could work for the EBs... I sense that an experiment is coming on!
My process will be to plant the seedling deep as I can reach inside the 16oz cup, and then add potting mix gradually as the seedling grows taller -- it's Bocabob's deep rooting system in the self-container veggies forum. This way, by the time I'm ready to transplant to the EBs and colander eBuckets, I'll have almost 16" of root along the entire stem.
I may use the same process when I go to the eBuckets, too. Start 'em deep, and fill in as the plant grows taller. This'll be easier in the eBuckets, because there's a lid to protect them. Actually, the more I flesh this out, the more sense it makes in the eBuckets. By the time I fill it in, I should have close to 20-24" of roots on each tomato stem.
I can do the same for the okra and eggplants, too!
If this works, I'm gonna sell my healthiest excess seedlings for at least $1.50 apiece, just to cover my growing expenses (coco coir, cups, lids, and fertilizer), from season to season. I have alotted $100 for my entire 2010 gardening budget... Linda
Gymgirl: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've never done this before, have you?
You may be overthinking/overplanning things. If you're planning to sow a lot of seeds, you are describing a huge project. I never pot up anything, everything goes from milk jug to ground. You should be able to transplant everything early in Texas, right into the garden.
The beauty of wintersowing is it's simplicity. And if done in the usual way, it's very inexpensive and works well.
You are correct -- I've never done winter sowing before -- I guess my tretise exposed me, huh?
I'm only planning on sowing seeds for about 6-10 varieties of tomatoes, in only 6-10 milk jugs. The first year I ever tried tomatoes, I ended up with 130 seedlings -- faaaaaaar too many for my very small backyard eBucket/EB operation! This season, I'm shooting for a total of only 12-15 tomato plants for myself, and selling/giving away any past that number.
So, with WS, I do NOT have to pot up into anything, first? Directly into the EBs and eBuckets? Well, now, that certainly is a horse of a different color! And, that certainly is beautiful simplicity!
P.S. Do not EVER hesistate to set me straight and back on the right track when you see me straying...I TRULY appreciate not having to repeat unnecessary mistakes!
I've spent an aweful lot of money on my gardening mistakes. I can't afford more expensive mistakes!
I'm anything but eloquent. And I don't even know what an Ebucket is.
Gymgirl, I, and many WS veterans, transplant right from jug to garden. I sow perennials and hardy annuals in winter, and plant out whenever soil is thawed up here and I can tolerate the temps myself. Anytime, even months before last for for HAs and HPs.
I don't even sow more tender things, including toms, until late March or April. I don't plant them out till after last frost, around mid May in my zone.
Last year I did my toms inside (COLD WEATHER YEAR!) but have WS toms successfully.
For any tiny flower seeds, I just sprinkle them and they grow like Chia Pets. I dump them out, cut into chunks, and plant out the hunks without separating, thinning, or potting up.
**I grow almost exclusively in containers (5 gallon buckets and patented Earthboxes), although I have two expanded raised beds (4x8 and 4x10) for root crops (turnips, beets, carrots, and lettuce and Brussels Sprout). I'll use the beds for beans after the winter crop harvest)
**I am in Zone 9a near Hobby Airport in Houston, which is a bit diff than Pod's Zone 8a
**Because we don't get too many freezes in my microclimate, I've been told my area can grow just about year-round (although more like two seasons: mid-winter to late spring, and late summer to mid-winter).
**My regular veggie plant out target date for my area is around the 1st week of March for my tomatoes. (Actually, planting later than the last week of February is pushing it, as I grow mainly late-season heirlooms that average 80-90+ DTM, and have to be harvested by mid-June due to our brutal heat -- yeah, I know, I push that envelope every time). I plant around the 1st week of April for the heat-lovers.
My plan was to start my veggie seeds with wintersowing to be ready for the plant out schedule above. Tomato seedlings by March 1st; then, bell peppers, okra, eggplants, squash, cowpeas, cukes, watermelons, corn?, after that.
I have some sort of mental block when it comes to the planting schedule. And other than the tomatoes, I haven't gotten it right yet! I keep missing the optimum plant out times...but, I keep trying to find what works for me in my area...
Linda -- the nice thing about WS, even in warmer climates is, the seeds germinate when they are ready.
If the 'conditions' are what they need to be for said seed... mother nature takes care of that.
Once your seedlings are ready, just plant them in your EB's , buckets or raised beds.
I remember my first year... i was all worried about timing of everything... then, as i saw it progressing, i was so relieved at how easy it really is.
Linda, remember that WS is mimicking the natural cycle of the seed. So if you go ahead and plant now, the seeds will remain dormant until the conditions are right for them to sprout. I kinda think of it like self-sowing plants or those that re-seed except you're planting the seed in a container (jug) instead of the plant dropping seed into the ground.
can you wintersow tomatoes? this lady from florida sent me some seeds of a cherry tomato that grows wild in florida she said. she also sent other kinds that she said did well in the heat. i think this year...if i remember...i am going to get the tx. tomato grower people to tell me the exact minute to plant. i can't ever get it right either.
when do you sow tomato seeds?
stephanie that was well said. but i get that we are trying to mimic mother nature. but you know those seeds that say sow in the spring only? why can't you sow them in the fall? what happens to them if you do? like morning glories. why can't you plant them in the fall?
I think that I might have missed a step and I want to make sure that I do this right so I can be successful with this WS project, my first time doing such. I'm reading some post where people add other things to their potting soil. Glad I read over these posts because I would have only used potting soil..please set me straight on this part. Duh! How much of each product do I add to the potting soil? This is what I am also understanding..that I should dampen the mix with water before planting the seeds? Do I pour the water and mix it in or use a sprayer to damp the soil in each jug or container individually? Just when I think I've got these procedures in my head, somebody else comes up with something that I think I must have not read about, thus confusing me.
Pippi ... I found wetting the 'medium' before adding the seeds makes it easier.
what i would do... and i have to do it in the kitchen, as i'm not fortunate enough to have a potting area in my basement or anywhere else...
but i cut all my jugs, then i fill a bunch with soil... I use Miracle Grow, the big huge bag... I put as many containers in the sink as will fit... 4 gallon or a variety of sizes til the one sink is full... then i take my sprayer at the sink, and damped the soil until water is dripping out the bottom. I leave them there a while until the dripping stops... once you do it a few times you will 'get' how much water you will need to dampen it thoroughly.
then i add the seeds and mark in my journal 'what is what'.
the first year, i added seeds first, before wetting... and some of the seeds wash to the sides... not good.
I think last year i took a series of photos for this process... but i'd have to look for them.
and no... i don't add anything extra to my 'potting medium' ... just whatever comes in the bag. I know we have a thread on potting mix and what others use... it's up in the sticky.
hope this helps clear things up.
OH and remember what Karen has said... keep it simple. It really is and i know being the first year, you get all excited about doing it "right" ... but
-prepare your containers
-fill with soil ... make sure you are close to 4" when it's damp
- add seeds
-close up containers
- stick outside.
period. it's that easy.
Sometime I add things to potting mix, depends on the brand. I really like ProMix but usually add perlite to it to make it lighter, fluffier. That one is hard to moisten, too, so I usually add dish soap. Sunshine mix already has a lot of perlite, I don't add anything. Sometimes I add pine fines. Just depends on the brand and maybe my mood that day.
To moisten I dump enough for about 6 jugs in a big basin about the size of a dishpan> spray and stir>spray and stir. Goes faster, mixes all thoroughly.
Okay, back to WS tomatoes - I had a friend ask if we can do it in our zone. If I read right, you can WS tomato plants? Same procedure as flowers?
I have about 100 containers ready - drilled many more holes in them than I'd had as I was afraid they might not drain well.
Tcs1366, did you figure out why 40 didn't germinate? That seems like a lot to not germinate... this is my first year so I'm at the "freaked" stage with the rest of us newbies. And, I'm having a BYOS (bring your own soil) party with other newbies that have never heard of WSing, so I have to do it right, LOL!!! (Only have, like, 30,000 BE Susan Seeds, plus ??? thousands of other seeds to share.)
Cynthia... no, i dont know why those didnt germinate. a for instance... i had 3 containers of Agastache Golden Jubilee. 2 germinate, 1 did not.
certain things that i always have a tough time germinating... grasses for one, and any sort of Joe Pye Weed for another... zip [for some reason] on germination. Some containers where i did not get any seedlings, i'd just 'stir' more seeds in, and something else would grow... that happened with Agastache Pink Pop.
I honestly don't worry about it... though I do think sometimes it has to do with drainage.
The Holly hocks do have me confused though. I do not understand why i'm having a tough time with them... they should grow like weeds... I sow'ed a bunch of then, got 1 seedling and gave it to my neighbor... it did bloom and she gave me seeds, which i just tossed in a large pot.. hoping they'd germinate in the Spring... but i'll be darned... they germinated. So i planted the little seedlings in a south bed.
I had one jug that didn't germinate until the late summer rains came. I'd given up all hope of anything germinating in the jug and had quit watering it. It sat on my back patio for months with no water or attention and survived the 100º+streaks and drought. The rains came and up popped a couple of plants. Go figure! LOL
Hi All! I'm a newbie to the winter sowing. I would like to pick your brain (experience), if you don't mind. I was reading your post...NanniePB said that you can sprinkle seeds during the fall months that end in "R"? Is December to late in the season to sprinkle seeds in the yard or to set out seeds in jugs?
it's all pretty miraculous, if you think about it. I told my friend that i'm just tempted to go around this fall (one of those months that end in 'R' as I heard the 'plant ladies' on the radio talk about ) and throw seeds in my beds and see what happens.
my thinking is Mother Nature drops and blows seeds around and they come up next year.
maybe i'll throw half of my seeds outside and half in jugs. lol.
This would really be considered direct sowing. Yes, Mother Nature does this... but then the seeds are susceptible to being washed away, or into a pile, due to heavy rains, blown away or eaten by critter or birds.
Could you get germination this way... sure, you can... but i still think you get a better germination rate by WS'ing.
You all make it sound so easy! LoL I'm trying some containers and keeping my fingers crossed! I also noticed that some of you placed them in the ground...does it make a difference if they are in a table? My seeds are on my patio which is facing North. My only options are North or South. West facing is completely shaded by my neighbors house and east is on the far side of my garage. I'm sure I will forget they are there and my neighbors may not like milk jugs sitting out all winter. LoL Will the patio provide enough light and will sitting off the ground be okay, from your experience?
mine go on the west side... but that is really the only place i have for them. THough, i have done the south... too much warmth and sun, and my front porch - covered, so they do not get 'water' ... but my back yard is fenced in... if i put them on the north, my neighbors dog would probably think they were toys... so I have to do the west side. But i have areas where i can shelter them from the sun when things are really warming up and I dont want them to fry. Otherwise, the sun is not an issue.
Mine sit on a patio, some on the ground if i run out of patio. Just do what is easiest for you.
I put mine on the ground on the east side of the house just past the drip line for the roof. That way they get lots of bright sunshine, but not enough to fry them and water when it rains or ices or snows or I water them. The ground helps keep the soil at a more normal temperature. Honestly, as long as the things don't fry, you remember to water them occasionally if you don't get any moisture or they're in a covered area, and you protect them once they've sprouted from freezing you'll probably do well.
Yes, I put something different out every time I find a container to sow the seeds in. I am supposed to get 5 milk jugs tomorrow. I think that will take care of all the seeds I want to sow. I am so excited!
What seeds did you sow? Do you have pics of the plants you're gonna grow?
I've only grown veggies so far. Marigolds & geraniums are the only other plants I have any experience with as far as real "gardening." I guess I better come up with a plant scheme in a hurry, huh, since I've got all these milk jugs ready (20 so far, and another 20 waiting to be prepped!). My husband has been doing the front flowerbeds. There are vincas, ponytail ferns, sago palms, geraniums, and I think some petunias. The vincas and geraniums come back every year. And the ponytails and sagos just keep doing their thing too.
The BACK yard is my territory. While I devote almost 100% of my time tending to the veggies, I'd like to at least have a few containers of color this spring/summer. We have a LOT, LOT, LOT of greenery in the yard, but no colorful plants. I tried a scheme of zinnias for the last two seasons, but they only got leggy and died before they ended up in the planters. Our greenery consists mostly of large ferns, a giant philodendron, rubber trees, variegated ginger plants, a coupla sage plants. These are all fairly large and in place in containers, so I just wanna intersperse some container color into this landscape.
All of the plants above are in one corner of the patio. The other side of the patio is filled with these giant vines my DH thinks ranks with the sacred cows. That side of the patio is also has ferns and purple wandering jew that grow together in a sort of carpet on that half of the patio floor (I NEED to cut em back...)
Since I've been reading the WS threads, I keep running into the proper names for the plants and I don't have a clue what they are. I just want some nice bold color like yellow marigolds and my scheme of lime green and purple zinias. Maybe some orange color.
Don't laugh...you've never seen a purple and orange sky? It's gorgeous!
Diamond, our local Starbucks can't recycle (Missouri, go figure) so I picked up 80 milk jugs in the past two days. They even have boxes I can set them out in - and best news - they are fresh so washing them out is no issue!
Having a Bring-Your-Own-Soil party with 15 friends so I have lots of jugs to prepare! First year winter sowing, I surely do hope it works since 16 of us are trying it!!!
I want to sow some delphiniums white & dark blue, black holly hocks, malva, butterfly bushes, gaillardia, rudbeckia and butterly weed. I have some beautiful bonfire euphorbia and peach coral bells. I want to put some colors beside them to really give my front yard some ZING. LoL I'm thinking either Rudbeckia cherry brandy, yellow blackeyed susans or crazy shasta daisies.
I checked with the cafeteria here at work just in time. They gave me 6 milk jugs. I'm praying that I wake up in the morning and find a greenhouse under my tree for Christmas. I love flowers and watching them grow but I especially propagating from seeds and cuttings. I'm no expert but I love it!
I just could not imagine having a greenhouse to tinker around in all year long? Can you? I love tropical plants! I had an area of my yard that was all tropical plants. It was the prettiest part of the yard! Next year I want to expand the area with Cannas, varigated ginger plants, elephant ears and banana plants. It sounds like alot of greenery but I haven't come up with what other flowers I want to add just yet. Anyone have any ideas? I have a plan in mind but that all this far!
I wish my plants looked as good as yours! In my zone we have to bring the tropicasl inside to store for winter. So my cannas are in a box I'm trying to keep my EE and banana tree alive in the kitchen. My ginger plants is doing the best and I got that one out of the trash at the greenhouse but it's tips have been brown for a long time. Yours looks extremely healthy! I think the colors you're thinkling of adding would be very attractive. I was told by a landscape designer that if you want to make you garden pop add yellow flowers but if you really want it to sing add white flowers.
Don't be midlead. That pic is from the 1st Spring/Summer I lived in my DH's house, 6 months after we were married.
Fast forward to today, when most of that is still there, but looking kinda ratty 'cause I refused to tend it anymore. As soon as I would beautify the patio, he would come behind me and mess it up. So, I turned it over to him.
Well, this'll be the first Spring/summer since then that he'll be handling his patio again. I just wanna be prepared in case he changes his ways...
It WAS nice, huh?
Maybe I'll print out this pic to remind him of what he COULD have (again...).^^_^^
Gymgirl, our local Starbucks goes thru about 60 milk jugs / day - I talked with the manager and take him a couple large trash bags in the a.m. His staff just puts the jugs in the bags (they step on them but they blow back up) and I pick them up twice/day. They even have boxes I can put them in to set them outside in.
Check with your local coffeeshops, Barnes and Nobles (coffee), cafeterias, etc. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can pick up milk jugs.
Two more days and I'll have a few hundred! And the nice thing is if you pick them up twice/day, they don't stink - the milk is fresh so you just rinse them out and let them dry!
I will have three BYOS parties with friends (probably 5 to 6 ladies at each) and I want at least 9 jugs for each - thus, the need for all the boxes and jugs. Plus, I have a huge new garden in the back w/o any flowers, so I want to WS enough this year so it'll fill in over the next few years. AND, I have friends I want to give to, thus, all the seeds, LOL!
I'm just missing being in the yard so this is a good preoccupation, plus the holidays are tough for me and this is a happy place!
You guys are great! K I'm growing in containers on the patio so the melampodium will be corraled. I'd heard it could get out of hand. I'll see if it comes in my color scheme. Marigolds are a winner. Need 2 look at the A. Tuberosa and Rudbeckia. I don't know those. I tried coneflowers under two trees but I think they need more sunshine. They'd get much more on de patio. They did reseed, too, which is a plus! And velvety geraniums! Can these be winter sowed? Never seen a geranium seed. I have a couple still growing now. Could I take cuttings and WS those in protected vessels? Oh, and gaillardia. This list sounds like a winner! Now I have 2 go order seeds PRONTO! I can get the zinnias and marigolds @ Lowes. Think I'll sow the zinnias soon. They took forever to germinate and then they got leggy and flopped all over. Just layed right down on the soil! They grew so tall and limp, I was confused as to how deep 2 plant them. Total crop failure... Thanks again, guys! Hansey, I've spent the better part of 2009 trying to eat my way to a happy place. This will stop come 01/09/10! Too many holiday events until then, and my Bday is the 8th. Just keeping it real. But, I've also discovered that Dave's Garden is a safer "happy place!" long as we keep hanging with each other, we'll be fine! PS. Thanks so much for all ya'lls help this year. You guys gave me so many wonderful comments and feedback. I'm a better gardener this year because of you all! Linda
Cookies ~ hmmmm... I ran out today. I have been making refrigerator cookies, mixed and frozen. I will thaw a roll and bake and eat them fresh. No more baked and none in the freezer. What will I do??? 8 /
LoL We seem to have the likes and interests! I have entertained myself with food far too long. I started with the seeds then slowed down with the food. Now it seems that I entertain myself with starting seeds indoors. I'm learning about winter sowing and now you're telling me that there's a forum that offers recipes??? I don't know what I'm more excited about...the prospective plants or prospective meals! LoL Well, I'm sure there are a lot worse things we could be doing. Gym, the seeds that I have out now are Rudbeckia, Gallardia, Foxgloves and Delphinium. I'm putting different cultivars out because of the colors I'm interested. I chose those seeds partly because some are good xeriscape choices but mainly because they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Some of themare also natives for my area. Oh, I'm also trying clematis, butterfly bushes and butterfly weeds. I got six more milk cartons so hopefully, I will be increasing my success rate. I had some success with the butterfly bush being sowed indoors. So I have one small already.
Diamond... it seems you and i have similar interests... food aside... but the xeriscaping and B&B plantings.
Ithink i collected some Delphinium seeds this year, but can't recall where they are. Those seeds need to be fresh, and as i was reading yesterday, they should have been direct sown in Aug. [from what the Backyard Gardener site said].
I'm hoping I have blooms on my Butterfly Weed this year, they are second year bloomers ... but then i can collect a lot of seeds.
I started a bunch of butterfly bushes last year. I had to sell them and give them away because I ended up with so many! I think I only kept one and last week it was still going strong. This will be my first experience with the delph. And I have not read the entire list of seeds on BYG. I plan to do that in the next couple of hours! LoL. I would post a picture of my BFB but its covered with snow. LoL