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WINTERSOWING Preparations for 20-15-2016 Season & DISCUSSION

Natick, MA

New Thread....For a new year
What are your plans to Winter Sow this year???

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Great...Thanks valal for the new thread!

I have several large trash bags full of squeaky-clean gallon water jugs I've been saving for a while, but have never taken the final step to plant in them. This year I'm determined.

I don't have my final list yet, but I think it's going to be mostly Hummingbird and Butterfly plants (which will also attract other pollinators).

I also came across these simple photo instructions for Wintersowing in one of my Garden Gate Magazine eNotes a while back. I figure you can never have too much help, particularly when it includes pictures.

Here's the link:
If you prefer to look at the slides all on one page, just click on the bottom right where it says "View all slides".

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I am here and I am laughing here. Remember when you were a kid and you were so excited to get to school, so you made your mom get you up hours early and then you sat and waited?All the supplies are lined up, nice and tidy, but there they sit cause it's just not time. That's what this period in time feels like to me.

I wrote a post last night but fell asleep before I hit the send button and lost the post. Here I go, trying again.

Val, thank for starting this thread. Nuts, what a great visual tutorial.

At 65 years old, I'm new to gardening. It started with three little tomato plants I tucked into the ground last June. I can't believe, seriously can't believe, I've never gardened before. Sure, I plopped some plants into the ground before over the course of my life, but putting energy and focus into the nurturing of the plants never happened. Since June, I have worked to put vision and structure into my small plot of earth. Up until now, it's primarily been a mental exercise with some actual results to show for it. For one thing, I have been creating beds for next spring. I have had two trees removed. One was just ugly and a nonperformer, while the other was 2 1/2 stories tall, dying and dangerous.

And that's where winter sowing comes in. I have a huge vision, but realistically know I can buy a lot of seed for very little. I'm a little frustrated because I can't find some of the seeds I want, but I have found some wonderful seed for heirloom and "rare" plants. With the Monarch crisis, it's in my heart to create a backyard sanctuary for butterflies, birds and bees and for me! I will be sowing lots of milkweed and other vegetation that will support wildlife. I also want fragrance. To that end, I now have seed for plants like fragrant sweet pea, petunia and nicotiana. I planted a Hydrangea two days ago, so even though I have a vision, it is chaotic. Gaura, hollyhocks, morning glory's, zinnia, several types of poppies, the list goes on. I cannot see the zinnia in any of my beds, but I love zinnia.

At the current time, I have roughly 40 containers. I would like to double that number, if not triple it. I bought five bags of seed and cutting mix, but at the price, I also bought two huge bags of miracle grow.

I am so looking forward to this. I have all sorts of basic questions but no time to ask them now. Once again, thank you for starting the thread.

Natick, MA

Patti, nows the time to do trades for seed you can't find and or you might want to join DJS 2015 fall seed swap? What seed are you looking for? Will be glad to help if I can!

Last year was my first year ws'ing and I know that little kid/excitement feeling well. ;0)

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

Valal, sorry took me so long to get back with you. Now that WS is no longer its own forum, I forget the look here.

The only thing I'm down to now and wanting seeds are two things of which you want one. I am looking for white bleeding hearts and I am looking for Solomon Seal.

I am so excited. I was just telling my brother about mom forgetting to save milk jugs for me. She is going into dementia and has a hard time on certain days. I was using the jugs as an example of one of the little things she has forgotten recently.

Anyway, my brother said, "like water jugs? I must have 100 of those." I had completely forgotten him that he only drinks distilled water and didn't think to ask him to save jugs for me.
I guess I'll be driving out to his house this weekend and bringing home a van full of jugs.

I also have a W/S question. When the jugs are set out in the winter, do they get set in full sun or partial sun?

Hope you're having a great day!

Natick, MA

Hi Patti,

Was happy and surprised to see a posting under WSing again. I think it's in the back of people's minds, but they are still fall planting and most tend to just wait til Dec/Jan to really start thinking/talking about it.

That is GREAT that your brother has been stock piling the water jugs! Good thing you mentioned it to him!! I think white bleeding hearts are not very common and/or not that many people save them. SOmeone told me she had a hard time, had looked for the plant, but hadn't found any. (Me either) I got some solomon seal in a trade last year. If it seeds next year (I didnt see anything this year, but wasn't really looking when it was blooming), didnt think to save the seeds as people say it spreads pretty well. I dont have alot or i'd send you a couple plants. Maybe you could do a trade here in the spring w/someone who has some to trade..then they can seed/spread :)

I'm not looking for tons,but I still am doing the fall seed swap. I often find things I didnt even know about :)

I dont think it makes that much difference if your jugs are set out in the sun during the winter, because the sun isn't that strong, but come spring when things start to warm up, if they are in alot of sun, they are gong to dry out alot faster, so I put mine on the deck that is on my north side of the house. Alot of people put them on the east or west also, but I'd say dont put them on the south side of the house where the sun will be strongest. Part sun is probably the best.
And if you put them where you're going to leave them, you wont have to have another job to be moving them.

I have to think about buying my soil NOW that it's getting late in the season before they run out/stop putting it out.

Talk again soon!

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I ended up spending a chunk of change on rock for landscaping so I am not doing any fall planting. Next year at this time I will be buying and planting bulbs. I have also been prepping for next years W/S transplants. I'm doing a lasagna bed beside the house so I had to buy compost, manure and straw. I also plan on starting a worm farm later this month so I can't even buy any seeds to trade. LOL

Thank you for the answer on jug placement. It would be a sad thing if everything dried out after sprouting.

Seed start and cutting mix is hard to find here. I finally found some at Menards and bought the last six bags they had. They are small bags so will not go far. I think I will use those for tiny seeds. I also got a couple of the 64 quart bags of MG. I'm sure it will be fine.

I really am excited!

Fort Worth, TX

What size jugs do you use for winter sowing?

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

Gypsi, I use regular 1 gallon milk jugs.

Fall is in the air! The time for sowing is getting closer. 😊

Natick, MA

You can use smaller containers but they tend to dry out fsster, so when weather warms in spring, keep that in mind.

Last yr I used a variety of containers and really liked the tin foil roaster pans for a number of can also fit more seeds in one place. I sowed seveeveral kinds of seeds in one pan...just be sure to mark what is what. ;0)

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I have two cats and three litter boxes. I go through a lot of litter, which I buy in the big plastic jugs. I've actually thought about opening up the side And then figuring out a way to cover with plastic. That would be roughly the size of your roaster pan, if not slightly bigger.

Natick, MA

I know alot of people use kitty litty buckets. Not sure what yours looks like (can u post photo?) but I'm sure you can retrofit it!!

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Patti, I think your litter jugs are basically the same as milk jugs, only larger. Are they translucent? You'd want to cut all the way around the jug (horizontally), leaving the handle area not cut. The handle would be a hinge, you could open it and add growing medium/seeds and close it for the greenhouse effect throughout the winter. Make sure you cut far enough up to have about 4" of growing medium in the bottom.

Fort Worth, TX

are you keeping these milk jugs indoors? artificial lighting or near a window? I pretty well struck out indoors in front of a south window last year. And the jug handle folds down, do you cut a notch for it to lock closed, to hold the humidity in? (I heat with a wood stove, so when it gets chilly the humidity hits the windows, and the stove dries the house out. But so did the electric heat, just cost more.)

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I'm a day late and a dollar short in getting back to you guys.. I was planning on taking the litter container and laying it flat on its back and hinging the front. This would be a time when I use a hole punch and twine or something like that to hold the front closed.

Yesterday, I had some help so we set up a five shelf unit in the basement. He brought in all of the potting mix and the seed starter and cutting mix and now it's all neat and tidy on the shelves. I'm sure it won't stay that way for long. LOL

I am still collecting milk jugs. As soon as I can find a tape measure, I will snap a picture of the litter container and send it in.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Oops, sorry Gypsi...The jugs get set outside in the shade for the winter and opened up in the spring to harden off and gradually moved in the sun (sun only for the sun loving plants of course).

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I finally found the tape measure. This container is 6 1/2 inches deep. I know you're supposed to have soil 4 inches deep but I think I'll probably go closer to 3 1/2 inches. I will have to retrofit a different top. I don't think that'll be a problem at all.

Thumbnail by Tuckersmom Thumbnail by Tuckersmom
(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

It would depend on the seed types you will be growing as some require less depth for root growth. You could just cut this one in half if you like, between the graphic and the words Tidy Cats on the front. You'd still leave a couple of inches not cut on the side you show in pic #2 to serve as a hinge and still close it up like you'd do with a milk jug.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree it will be fine. However I do not see why you need a different top. I would do it like the milk jugs I have used- cut 3/4 of the way around, so there is a "hinge", then put matching holes so you can use a twistie tie or the twine to hold it closed against the wind.
I use my milk jugs upright, this makes it easy to just leave the cap off so a bit of moisture can get in (need drainage holes of course). So while you are making holes in the bottom and for the twine, just put a few in the top too since you have no cap on top. In the spring when the sun hits this, if you don't have ways for the air to get in the sides and then out the top your little plants could be cooked in an hour. I also pay some attention to shading the side of the jugs where the sun hits them- overgrown lawn works well for this!

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Hi Mipii- we must be twins separated at birth!

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Yeah glad to have you, you're a keeper!

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

I would say you are both keepers! Thanks for your guidance. I am really getting excited.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Aww, I'm blushing. Just like Pistil, I only wanted to help. You're so welcome Tuckersmom. Your excitement won't wain anytime soon...enjoy!

Natick, MA

I think Patti wanted to lie it down and use it with the least depth vs. standing it up like a milk jug in order to get more "surface area" to sow, perhaps??

Did everyone find that after putting a good amount of soil, it "settled" over time and wasnt as deep?
Last year was my first year...and I had alot of success. i think (hope I'm not repeating myself) that I didnt wait long enough for some seeds, tho, and figured they just weren't going to sprout. Lesson learned :)

I've been down with a horrible head cold, couldn't do much, but it was a good time to sit and organize seeds...and plan what I definitely want to WS :) Gee, its hard to beleive it's already Nov. next week!

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

Val, I sure hope you're feeling better now. Head colds are miserable.

You are correct, I want the most surface available. I hadn't thought about the soil settling though. I can go ahead and fill the jugs to 4 inches if that's really a problem. My current thought is to put annuals in here, although I'm not sure which ones yet.

Natick, MA

Feeling a little better...good excuse to sort seeds :)

Dont worry Patti, you still have a couple months to plan which ones to plant in what! LOL!
And with the fall robin, I'm sure you'll find bunches more seeds that you want to plant!

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

No freaking out here! If this isn't fun and relaxing, I don't want to do it. I have enough stress in my life. LOL

Fort Worth, TX

So when do you plant? I am in Texas, but I am not sure if that makes a difference.

Natick, MA

Gypsi, you start anytime after the winter solstice (late Dec)
We in colder zones can stretch it out til Feb, but you might wan tto do late Dec/early Jan and get those babies outside for a cold stretch :)

Fort Worth, TX

I think this sounds really interesting. I have failed and failed at starting seeds early, for the last 30 years or so. Built a greenhouse and did somewhat better but by the time hardened off and out lost over half anyway (flooding rains in May followed by no rain in June did contribute) What plants do you typically cold start?

I have packs and packs of flower seeds - lavender, borage, fancy stuff and ordinary stuff that won't start for me in pots in warm weather or in the greenhouse.

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

Gypsi, this will be my first time too. I went back and read the threads at the top of the propagation forum. That really helped me to get a better feel about the various plants, when they should be planted, etc.

Natick, MA

For any first timers, these links really helped me the most. I like the illustration versions of "how to"

wintersowing 101:

Preparing Jugs:

Which Perennials require that cold stratification process:

How to transplant those seedlings from WS containers
(also often called the "HOS - HUNK OF SEEDS" or "Brownie method"

and of course, Trudi's site has a bunch of pages/information.
I strongly recommend reading up on it before you start, so you have your questions answered beforehand :)

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

Thank you for doing that, Val. I cannot do links with my dumb tablet.

Fort Worth, TX

My tablet defeats me too. How do you do anything without altE or shifting to select for copy? and no mouse? this is a computer with actual keys, miserably filthy office but keys are NICE

Natick, MA

My pleasure. Had I thought of it sooner I should have shared those links before as I found I went back and forth and often referenced them for information.

I'm with you I much prefer using my notebook computer for typing and doing serious stuff where it's easy to cut and paste links and a myriad of other things. I know my son has shown me how you can cut and paste something but it seems like an awful lot of work and the computer vs the tablet just seem so much easier for some things.

Washington, ME

Just throwing out an idea I am using this year as it is my first time at winter sowing . I had been researching on marking containers and many people's ideas on how they do it.I have marked all my containers with yard sale stickers I picked up at cheapie stores. They come in a few different colors and of course different numbers (prices) on them. I am making a chart with the labels in a book so I know what is what come spring. (yellow 50cent would be huckleberry ) as an example and I put labels near the handle facing away from the sun and folded them and let them fall into the jug also.Everything is all set now I just need to drop the seeds in and give the jug a shake according to how deep they should be sown.

Natick, MA

Robinski, I'm not sure why you are "dropping the seeds in and" shaking? How are you controlling the depth by shaking? Many seeds I sowed were small and we're to be pressed into the soil. I I am assuming that you don't want to cut open the jugs in half? I think if you do this you will have some success with some of the seeds but not as much control or success as you would have if you cut the gems in the half... Assuming that you're using jugs. IMHO

Great Falls, VA(Zone 6b)

Winter Sowing in a Year of Climate Change
Definitely a warmer than usual winter here in Virginia Zone 6b. So far anyway. Last year's calendula is still blooming, a window-box petunia still blooming. and it's December 31. Some of my early winter sows have sprouted -- I haven't perennials planted so far, no vegies or annuals. Still, I'm wondering if I planted too early. We'll see! All gardening is an experiment in my book. Anyone else seeing sprouts due to the warm winter?

Great Falls, VA(Zone 6b)

Robinski -- I tried some sort of color coding and making a list once. Couldn't keep looking things up in a book, I'd be running in and out to check or leaving the book out in the rain. Was colorful though. Nothing works like weatherproof plant tags for me.

Currently I'm printing big "labels" on colorful card stock and "laminating" with 2 inch tape and then taping it to the WS containers (mostly milk jugs and big plastic containers cut in half). That should last through potting up... that's when it can get confusing. But once they're ready to pot up at least you have something to help -- the leaves! So if a few are well labeled, I can hopefully keep the strays identified. I still have a pot of unidentifed leaves from last year. I'm always planting something new. Seedling ID can be a puzzle.

I am running out of milk jugs though and will resort to my store of 6 inch plastic pots and throw a sheet of plastic over them I guess...

(Patti) Wichita, KS(Zone 6b)

My milk jugs have not been touched. We finally got cold earlier this week and I want to make sure it's going to stick around. We had ice and sleet Thanksgiving night but were back in the 60s by the middle of the following week. Now I'm thinking that if we are still cold in mid-January, I will get busy. I couldn't even really get in the mood for Christmas because we were still in the 60s. I'm glad to see winter arrive.

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