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My First Winter Sowing

20 Jan 2011
Sunny -8°C / 18°F

I decided to give it a try since I didn’t get my Winter Garden sown this past fall. I purchased a translucent file box from Walmart, cheap soil from Walmart, and used small pots I had saved (and that friends had given me). The file box fit 24 of the three and a half inch pots and when they were filled, there was room for 5 more small plastic or styrofoam cups. This is very experimental for me, so in most cases, but not all, I didn’t use up all my seeds. Any seeds I did use up completely were saved by friends, so I’ll be able to replenish my supply, hopefully. I planted: Agastache, 2 kinds of Allyssum, Baptisia, Blackberry Lily, white Butterfly Weed, Campanula, Cimicifuga, 6 kinds of Clematis, 3 kinds of Columbine, Foxgloves, Leeks, Lovage, Onions, Penstemon, Blue Poppy, white Lupins, Spinach and Snow-In-Summer. It will be fun and interesting to see what comes up for me. Of course, I have visions of TONS of baby plants which will have to be divided when the end of April/beginning of May arrives! It would be nice if the onions and leeks are successful since I’ve never had much luck starting them indoors and always end up buying sets. The Penstemon wasn’t successful for me last winter indoors either … I’m beginning to understand why it was such a big package of seeds. Now the waiting begins, which may be the hardest part of all.
Question: should I be covering each individual pot with plastic-wrap or is the container enough of a cover?


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Tomartyr

Tomartyr

Folia Helper

New Zealand

I don’t have any experience of gardening in a climate as cool as yours, HollyBee, but I would have thought the container with lid would be adequate in terms of creating a microclimate. Thank you for the idea. I think the file box will be a great mini hothouse and it has set me to thinking about something similar. Do you use a heated mat underneath?

Posted on 20 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

I think that the container would be enough of a cover. In fact, I think I might worry more about it being too much of a cover when it starts to warm up … you may want to increase ventilation come spring by putting more holes in the top, or leaving a gap between the lid and the container.

Posted on 20 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

Thanks … @Tomartyr – I’m putting it all out in the snow, so no … no heated mat underneath. But, I think you might be on to something … so give it a try because I’d love to read about the results!
@ DirtGently – yes, I will watch closely at temperatures when spring arrives. I wondered about that too, and had figured that I’d have to open it up some on warm days. For now … no problem! :)

Posted on 20 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

Not going to be much help here, but I think experimentation is key here and hopefully it will be a successful one. I would think that if you can keep the temperatures are but onions will not germinate well below 55ºF for most. If you can keep the onions above 60 you should get good germination within a few days (6-8). Anyway keep us updated on how this goes I’m very curious to see how things do in colder weather.

Posted on 21 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

The container is enough of a cover, you do not need to cover the individual pots. You for sure need holes on the top AND bottom of the container, before you put it outside. I use the same type of container for winter sowing as well as milk jugs.
I know the concept of putting holes may seem weird, since you are putting it out in the snow. (make sure when you do put it outside you cover it with lots of “white mulch”). You still will have to lift the lid off when the temperature starts to rise during the day, but when it gets colder at night, you will have to put it back on. This is another great thing about winter sowing, no hauling pots in and out to harden off!
By the way, I think your selection of seeds is excellent and you WILL have TONS of baby plants to transplant come spring.
I predict you will become addicted to winter sowing after your experiment this year!

Posted on 21 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)
SneIrish

SneIrish

Folia Helper

United States6b

DITTO what Deanna said, all of it. The holes in the cover let moisture in and the holes in the bottom let excess water out – they are both a necessity for germination. Do not remove the cover until you have seedlings, though. The timing will work out perfectly with the arrival of warmer spring weather, trust me. And, you WILL be amazed, and as Deanna said, you WILL become addicted. Welcome to the club!

Posted on 21 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

Thanks Deanna. The container is in the front porch ‘as we speak’. I’m trying to give it a (quick) gradual trip outside in the snow. My husband drilled holes in the top and bottom and I’m hoping we did enough … especially in all the high (lid) and low (base) points. I didn’t know that I should cover it with snow when I put it out tomorrow, as I thought I was just supposed to wait until the weather does that, so I’m grateful for the advice. Can you tell I was going through my stash alphabetically? :) At least I was until I was starting to run out of room! I’m going to babysit my two oldest grandchildren for the next week, but when I come back, I have one of those under-the-bed storage containers that just might do for the remaining seeds I had on my list. I’m sure I can find somewhere else to put all of the stuff that’s in it now!

Posted on 21 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

Thanks SneIrish, I appreciate the support.

Posted on 21 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

I’ve tried it last winter for the first time, using 1,5 or 2 l plastic bottles (in Italy isn’t easy to find bigger food or beverage containers). arranged into crates. I sowed flowers and the experiment was successful. Most of the plants sprouted (Bachelor’s button, Columbine, Foxglove, Hollyhock, Cosmos, Amaranth, Pot marigold, Oriental poppy, Fernleaf yarrow, Sunflower, Lupin) and that was amazing; on the contrary, Snapdragon, Tobacco plant and Goldenrod failed to germinate.
I transplanted Columbines, Sunflowers, Bachelor’s buttons and one Lupin, discovered that here the growing season is too short for Amaranths and … forgot the other baby plants in their small pots (I’m messy, I know).
This year I’m going to try again, but sowing only few plants. I think that… I haven’t become addict (yet).

‘Winter sowing’ works and I’m sure that your experiment will be successful!

Posted on 21 Jan 11 (over 8 years ago)

I wouldn’t have thought of winter sowing like this (i.e. using a big plastic box)… I’ve only seen people using milk jugs and when I tried it last year… I failed :( I think I will copy you and try it here. Thanks for the idea :)

Posted on 25 Feb 11 (over 8 years ago)

Thanks joeysplanting. Check out Tomatyr (the first comment). Using one as a hothouse might work for you too!

Posted on 25 Feb 11 (over 8 years ago)

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HollyBee

Elgin, Ontario

Canada



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