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When to start seeds?

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I have been saving milk jugs and am going to make a go at this this year. Is there a specific time that you set up your containers and put the seeds in? Temps? month...etc?

church Road, VA(Zone 7a)

I am like you, My first time to Winter Sow and I have been saving many jugs since I started reading about WSing (A few months ago) on Dave's site. If you will look back on this forum (WS) you will find all kinds of info about it. You can also put WS in a google search and find all kinds of info. and dates, etc. Sorry I can't help you more but I am so excited about it. As soon as I have time now, I am going to sow my hardy seeds in milk jugs and wait till early spring to sow the others, just a general opinion. I am a newby too, trying to learn. By the way, I also live in Va. in the Petersburg area. Good luck!!

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks! I have found some info on the web and looks like after the new year is the time to start some of them.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

It seems like most of the WS posts are referring to flowers. I buy all of my bedding plants- I want to do vegetables-namely Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers & Pole Beans. Will all of those do better with WS, or should beans & cukes just be direct sown when the time is right? I definitely will do Tomatoes & Peppers. Since this is my 1st time, I welcome any advice I can get. I already have my milk jugs!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I know many do veggies via WS method. I hear they do quite well.

from what i've read - you can start sowing anytime after winter solstice... but with that falling over the holidays - most of us wait until Jan/Feb time frame -- dead of winter when we dont have much else to do.

I know most of us in zone5 start our annuals Mar/Apr time frame. you don't want them to germinate then get nipped by a late frost.

If you have not read the 'sticky' at the top of the forum -- do browse that when you get a chance.

welcome winter sowing.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

All my posts regard WS VEGGIES!

I did exceptionally well with bell peppers and tomato seeds this past season, and for the first attempt. I will DEFINITELY be WSing my BPs and Mater seeds beginning the weekend closest to December 21st (our Winter Solstice?).

Please review my posts and notes on WS my BPs (which I started em' waaay too soon and had to keep them inside under fluorescent lights0 and my TOMATOES, which stayed outside the entire time from milkjug to Earthbox plant out.

I've captured some of my posts for your review:

Here's the discussion after my bell pepper seedlings had been WSed and then put under fluorescent lights inside. I didn't know enough not to start a heat-loving veggie in the middle of winter! But, I nursed em through and today, I still have lush greenery and bell peppers growing outside in my eBuckets!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

For the Newbies to wintersowing. be sure to go to Trudi's site as she is the person who started all of this and has lots of good information there and she will answer any questions you might have, plus read all the post here on these forums. There's a wintersowing forum here. It's fun, once you get ti started. I didn't start anything until mid January but some start in late Dec. Something about soltice tradition.
There are a lot of wonderful experienced wintersowers willing to help you. Believe me, a lot held my hand last year through it all and were wonderful! Nobody will make fun of you; everybody was once a Newbie so they know how it feels the first year they tried wintersowing. If you have time on your hands now, I'd start poking your holes into your milk jugs or containers, bottom and top. I went to a trift store last year and bought a brand new mini-blind for $3..doesn't matter color or size and it doesn't have to be brand new either. Cut your plant id tags from an old or new mini-blind for the inside of your jugs/containers. That can be done ahead of time. Go to a craft store and buy a permanent paint pen. The paint pens won't wear off or fade in the outdoor elements. Paint pens have different types of points and also come in various colors. In Michael's they have a roll of sample paper in front of the paint pen display so you can try each color, I didn't pay attention to the point when I bought my first one, but found it was too fat and took up too much space on the mini-blind. Went back for fine point and bought several colors. The purple one is easy to see, but most people stick with black ink I think. I thought gold would show up well but it didn't. I think the royal blue color showed up good. Olive green didn't which surprized me. I started out using duct tape to enclose my jugs/containers after I had planted my seeds. I had a lot of that around here but when you go to peel that off, it's a sticky mess. Invest in heating and air conditioning tape. Buy it at Home Depot or Lowe's. It's a bit pricy, about $8-$10 a roll and it has a paper backing to it that makes it so much easier to use. That roll goes a long way, so it was worth the investment. I have even used it to strengthen miniblind plant markers. You can write on it and it's great. I used plastic milk crates mostly to put my milk jugs/liter bottles in outside. I bought them at same thrift store as I got the mini blind for only $1.91 each. Some people just line their containers or milk jugs out on a patio or deck or picnic table outside when they are ready to spend the winter. If you decide to use any small containers, make sure the containers have drainage holes in bottom and I went and bought clear storage containers at Target, K-mart and poke drainage holes in bottom and top lid for air circulation and for rain to get into the seeds.
I tried styrofoam coffee cups and cold drink cups inside the clear storage containers and they tend to dry out too quickly. They were fine when covered with 55 inches of snow but when the snow finally melted a month later, the yard was so muddy, I couldn't get out to check on those in the "Sterlite" containers so they dried out. Once they dry out, you can't usually revive them, and they won't germinate so that's a loss to you.
I don't consider myself an expert after one season of wintersowing but I'll be glad to share my experiences or try to answer any questions but feel free to post. A lot of people will respond and help you. Don't be shy! There are wonderful people posting on these forums; there is no competition among gardeners either. Good Luck!

(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN(Zone 6a)

I can hardly wait! I would like to get those big bread crates. They look like the milk crates but the sides are lower and they are probably the size of 4 or 6 milk crates. Does anyone know where I can find them? The bread store will only rent them here.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I have already started WS since our weather has turned to freezing and we have had snow. I WS only those plants that require flunctuating temps. I don't waste my time on annuals or veggies since they don't require cold and they sprout easily and quickly.

What I especially WS is Iris seeds of crosses I made, and daylily seeds along with hardy perennials. Most perennials require the same treatment.

Below are the iris that I WS in 2009. Photo taken in Oct 2010.

This message was edited Nov 24, 2010 12:11 AM

Thumbnail by blomma
Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Here are the containers I use. Plastic shoe boxes cheap at Walmart are filled with iris seeds and other perennials.Photo taken November 2009. I place them in the north side of my house. The iris sprouted April 2010 and are now growing in my coldframe. See above post.

Thumbnail by blomma
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN(Zone 6a)

Does your containers have clear plastic lids?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

No, as you can see the lids on the boxes on top are white. The seeds are planted a little over 1/4" deep and will stay that way until spring. Therefore need no light. The lid is simply to prevent the soil from drying out.

Last spring I was anxious for the iris seeds to germinate so brought in the box and placed it under plant light in my plant stand at room temp. They began to sprout within a week. That is when they need light.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

blomma -- how high is your soil line?

I used those 'shoe boxes' back in 07, and once they started growing, i ran out of room quicky .... but my soil line was maybe a halfa inch under the edge... we had early warmth then a frost... so i needed them covered.

I hadn't used them since.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

You mean the soil line in the box? The soil is about 1" below the top edge. Once they began to sprout and gained a bit of growth, I transplanted them into 6-packs. Once they are settled in there, I potted each in a foam coffee cup. From there they went into my coldframe late May.

Here are my first iris seedlings Buffawn x Joyce Terry in a 6-pack

Thumbnail by blomma
Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

AH... gotacha. mine stayed in the box until i planted out.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

There is less transplanting shock when planted in a pot before planting out. That way they develop a good root system that can be slid out of the pot right into the ground.

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