The holidays are over, and I am in full “holiday hangover” mode! I’ve got the winter blues, and I’ve been looking for a way to keep myself occupied for the duration of the winter months. It’s 62° today in zone 5b (Upstate New York) on January 13th, and that’s making it even worse! Sure, I have multiple “projects” around the house to do, but I really need a gardening activity! So I started looking into winter seed sowing. I have some seeds I’d really like to get a jump on, and just don’t have the set up for sowing indoors. As I was doing my research I found that it’s really easy to do, and I thought some of you might want to try it. So here’s what I found…
You must pay attention to the seeds. Most seed packets have information regarding the seed’s germination requirements.
Look for certain terms such as:
- Needs Pre-Chilling (freeze, refrigerate, stratify, etc…)
- Needs Stratification
- Will Colonize
- Sow in early Autumn, or early Spring while nights are cool
- Hardy Seeds or Seedlings withstand frost
- Can be direct sown early
Look for common names that indicate natural environment such as:
If you’re like me your seed catalogs have started to arrive in droves. Any one of these catalogs should have a germination table, and if you can’t find one just like anything else you can always Google it.
Now that you’ve selected your seeds it’s time to sow. As I did my research I decided on the re-use, recycle method of using old plastic containers. Whether it’s a plastic milk jug, or old Chinese delivery container, it’ll be perfect for winter sowing.
Steps to Sowing your Seeds
- As I said use gallon milk jugs or similar containers like, food trays with clear lids or old Chinese delivery containers (I have a lot of these). If using jugs, cut open horizontally around jug but leave hinged just under handle.
- Punch several holes in bottom for drainage, and several holes around neck or in the top for to let air in and allow evaporation.
- Also punch 2 holes in the sides of the container.
- Fill with 3-4" of regular potting soil, not soilless mixture.
- Moisten the soil or bottom water to start.
- Plant the seeds you’ve selected as required by their size, etc… And Be sure to label them, I always forget to label and end up playing a guessing game!!
- Tape the jug around the cut, and place on patio next to house. I have a screened in porch that I’m going to use. I might be able to use some less hardy seeds as it stays relatively warm.
- Check occasionally for condensation and water when sunny & the need is there.
- Put extra holes in container in the spring to get rid of extra moisture or you may want to open the top all together.
- When the frosts have passed, separate your seedlings into clumps or individual plants and plant in garden.
- You may want to use fertilizer for first few weeks after planting in ground, at least until your seedlings “take hold”
And there you have it! I can’t wait to get going, I’ll be sure to keep track of the progress (if there is any) and post an update in the spring. For a little luck I think I’ll have my little girl help me sow, I think it’ll be a fun activity for her as well!!
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