Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Winter Sowing

Winter Sowing
Today I am sowing some seeds for the garden. Yes, you can plant in the winter. Winter sowing is a seed-starting technique where you start seeds early in milk jugs or your container of choice. The cold weather will stratify the seeds and aid in germination. It works best with some herbs, perennials, or native seeds. Here is some more information from a website I have trusted.

Winter Sowing
The first step is to gather your supplies: 
containers for each seed sowed 
waterproof marker
plant markers
duct tape
utensil to cut container (box cutter, or scissors)
potting mix

I then cut holes in the bottom of my milk jugs with my husband's tin snips. You have to cut drainage holes; don't skip that step.

Winter Sowing
Then cut your jugs in half leaving a little part uncut to hold the lid on. Cut with enough space at the bottom of the milk jug for your seeds to develop a good root system.

Winter Sowing
Sow your seeds with the proper depth and light requirements as per the seed package. Then mark your plant markers with the names of the seeds and place the marker in the soil.

Winter Sowing
Water your seeds thoroughly. I water them until the water is seen coming out of the drainage holes. The water will condense on the inside of the container and create a greenhouse effect. Then the seeds will germinate when the inside of the container reaches the proper temperature. They will be hardened off by the outside elements and grow really sturdy.

Winter Sowing
I have winter sown for about four years. I have learned a few things. The one thing I used to do was to take older seeds and sow them, hoping that the seeds would germinate with this method. I would sow somewhere between 80-120 milk jugs. Needless to say, the fresher seed germinated and the older seed didn't. I have now discovered another method for checking seed germination, and I will share that with you later. The other main thing I have learned is to get a really great waterproof marker. This is the one I have discovered will work. The others faded with the elements, and I couldn't read what plant I had in the jug. 

Winter Sowing
To finish, place duct tape around your jugs and label the outside so you can peep in the top and see what is growing. Throw the milk jug lid away. You will sit these outside with the top open.
This method of starting seeds is really helpful for starting seeds cheaply if you don't have grow lights. I actually have grow lights, this year I sowed two containers: lamb's ears and echinacea. Okay....before I posted this, I did put out three more milk jugs, and I sowed mint, true lavender, and chives, but that is it. I am now sowing the rest inside. I placed my milk jugs in full sun. I will check on them to see if they need watering every week. Just don't let them dry out, and don't overwater them. If you are getting rain or snow, you probably won't need to water them at all due to the greenhouse effect.
I will post an update later when I open these up, and I will show you what germinated and what didn't. I used a mix of fresh seed and some that should be viable.
Planting has begun! 

In Victory,

1 comment:

Bernideen said...

I am so excited to see you do this. This is a wonderful project you have going. When we first retired and moved to Missouri I did many seeds in our basement. The problem was that the sliding glass door faced North so I really didn't have enough light long term and they came up but didn't advance as they should needing more light.