I've been reading some Canadian sites here at Garden Web and one site is called "Canadian Wnter Sowing" and a friend said that she found an aricle about it in on her Garden mags. I'm wondering if anyone has done this and their results?
I've dabbled at it. Some things did wonderfully, some things didn't germinate, probably my fault as a couple containers dried out.
I winter sow and have found it very successful, my favorite way to start seeds. Most will germinate easily with some needing two winters to germinate (rarely) and some will not germinate (could be seed wasn't fresh or containers dried out or too wet spring or....). Some tender annuals and veggies I still start inside to get earlier flowers and fruit.
For more info go to the winter sowing forum and read the FAQ and some of the posts on the site. If you still have questions then ask away.
Below are photos of the hundreds of containers that I sowed in 2008. This year I have only sown 4 containers so far as I still have lots of young plants looking for a bed.
Thanks for your input. I am wondering if the clear plastic containers work better than the white milk containers? Yes, some seeds do need two freezes. Your pictures are great!
@mnwsgal - GREAT pictures, I love it!! Seeing those sprouting containers makes me very excited for spring!!
@posieh - I have been winter sowing for a few years now too and have had great results. It seems like my seeds germinate better if I wait until February to start. I start with the cold weather vegetables, perennials and seeds that need cold strat. Then I move into the less hardy/ warm weather ones as it gets closer to spring. I winter sow into April most years. My tomatoes and peppers haven't done very well, so I sowed those indoors last year.
The winter sowing forum is a great place to start, wintersown.org is another great resource. Oh, and there is a Winter Sowers group on Facebook if you want to join that.
I write quite a bit about my winter sowing experiences on my blog Get Busy Gardening!. I have attached a link to a post I wrote a few years ago detailing how I winter sow. I have also written articles about types of containers and other winter sowing tips. If you search for "winter sowing" on my blog, you'll find all the articles I've written (the search box is in the right column under the map widget)
It is fun and addicting!! I hope you'll decide to give it a try.
Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing Seeds
You folks are awesome Thanks for all the info and pics. Oh, dear, I'm going to be sooooooooo busy!I've been gardening for 99 years or so and never heard of this until last year. I wonder if it was ever featured in the Minnesota Hort magzine "Northern Gardening"? My friend found it in in the Garden Gate magazine and it was written for Mn gardeners.
LOL! Yes, it will definitely keep you busy. Be careful though, it's so fun that before you know it, you'll have 100 containers... and then come spring, you'll wonder where the heck you're going to plant everything! :-)
I'm not sure if it's been featured in any MN gardening mags. I would love to write for one of those!
I typically start my seeds in February. This year I wonder if it will still be winter in February.
I used plastic containers upside down with holes top and bottom. The photos I am adding explain it.
Here is a link that might be useful: wintersowing
Clever idea! I hesitate to try again because I would spend all summer trying to find homes for them.
Over 7+ years I have used many different containers for winter sowing from gal. milk jugs, 2Ls, baggies, cups, flats, large pots, etc. I like to put annuals in cups and place them in large plastic containers like zenpotter uses. As long as the potting mix is deep enough to keep from drying out quickly and the seeds & mix can be contained most anything works if given attention. I like gal. jugs cause they are easiest to move around. 2Ls last longer than milk jugs which disintegrate after two years for me. Also it is easy to see inside 2Ls and to remove & replace tops. It is easy to remove seedlings from cups. All have their pros and cons. Give them a try and see what works best for you.
Hostaholic2, I have learned to sow seed sparingly but not to cut down on trying just one more type of seed. LOL, I have way too many seeds and am still wanting that new one that is introduced this year.
I'm preparing for knee replacement surgery this spring but it is killing me to only have 4 jugs sown. Hopefully I will be able to do some spring sowing.
I tried winter sowing last year for the first time. All of the spring rain turned them to mud and I didnt have great successes. But I was also growing lots of things from seeds inside under lights, and they did beautifully. I had petunias blooming inside before anything sprouted in the winter sown containers.
Our growing season is so short, I just dont think I have the patience for winter sowing, unless it is with perennials that dont bloom the first year anyway. It certainly doesnt make sense for things like tomatoes and peppers that we need a head start on.
Doing tomato and pepper starts in the winter is one of the parts of winter sowing that please me the most. If you don't grow your own starts, you are stuck with the handful of varieties that the garden centers sell as plants in the spring. But there are literally thousands of varieties of tomatoes and at least hundreds if not thousands of varieties of peppers that you can grow if you sow them indoors in late winter.
Also, I always drag a couple of containers of indeterminate tomato plants into the house in the fall. They're nothing to look at because their leaves slowly start dropping off, and both the flavor and texture of the slowly ripening fruits lose something along the way, but they're at least no less tasty than the ones at the store. This year, I officially broke the January 1 mark (barely) for fresh homegrown tomatoes. I've heard that some people with more winter sun in the house than I have can keep potted pepper plants alive all winter and get a major head start on pepper production the next summer.
A friend of mine recently told me that planting onion starts in January is none too early. I've got bunching onions up already. Planting some more today. But I'm looking for an heirloom/open-pollinated long-keeping bulb onion that grows well in Minnesota. Any ideas?
Chris, spacetogrow, the winter sowing is this post is referring to sowing seeds in small greenhouse like containers and setting them outside in the winter to germinate when nature is ready come spring. It is like direct sowing except that the containers give the seeds extra protection and warmth.
Sowing seeds inside during the winter is referred to as sowing inside or under glass or under lights.
I sow many annuals and veggies inside under lights in my basement and set them out when weather is agreeable in the spring.
I tried carrying over peppers but too many bugs, esp. white flies. Finally threw them out. Too much bother.
Though I have not brought tomatoes inside in pots I will cut off a branch and hang it in the garage where the tomatoes continue to ripen. Also wrap green tomatoes in newsprint and have ripening tomatoes through December.
mandolls, one year I started all my annuals via winter sowing and you are right, there was a long wait for blooms. It didn't matter for me that year as I planted them out at the end of May and had to leave so DH watered them for me. When I returned the end of June they were just starting to bloom and were beautiful until frost. Now I start some inside for early bloom. Will also spring sow some for replacements in containers that get shabby mid/late season.
Thanks for the clarification. I guess I won't be winter sowing proper any time soon; my townhome association would nail me if I left jugs and such sitting outdoors:O
I have winter sown perennials in northern MN for years and have had excellent results. When I moved to Alaska I wasn't sure if it would work as well here because of the funky freeze/thaws we have for weeks on end. It worked beautifully here also! The local nurseries here are almost triple in price what I was used to in MN which was almost enough to send me screaming back. :-) Winter sowing is so cost effective compared to buying pots of perennials. I also have been able over the years to have much more variety then I ever could from the local nurseries.
Oh yes...I am very much missing Minnesota which explains why I stopped in here to chat. :-)
This will be my 9th winter to winter sow. My favorite container is the large milk jug - clear or white - I've noticed no difference in my germination. Keeping a container moist once it starts to warm up is a huge part of success and I found over the years the smaller containers dry out faster.
Last year I only bottom watered and had the best luck - 95 out of 102 jugs germinated and it may have been old seed or whatever causing no germination and I didn't loose sleep over it. Shoot still have a few jugs buried under leafs from last year that I need to get planted out still. So far there are 84 jugs on the patio and more to come. I do all my tomatoes and peppers and annuals inside in my grow room.
I have so much fun wintersowing. I try every year to only do as many as I have room for and I just can't seem to do it.
I think the planting to many thing is the winter is to darn long gardeners curse! I am going bonkers here this winter in AK not sowing anything because I know I am coming back to MN in the spring. Of course when we arrive there I have gardens waiting for me too. My daughter tells me they are completely overgrown and I have to finish moving one of the original gardens. It is going to feel so good to be back in Minnesota again. I feel right now a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz-There is no place like home!
I tried winter sowing last year for the first time and had great success, even with a cold, wet spring. I tried both perennials and annuals, and have even more (40?) containers planted this year.
My question: last year I put the containers in spots that receive morning sun only because I read that somewhere. But I've also read full sun is okay. Any advice? Obviously cooking them in too much afternoon sun wouldn't be good! Thanks.
Mine get full sun until 1:00. On hot days I open them up so they don't cook. I haven't a clue what will happen with the 70Ã¯Â¿Â½ that is coming.
There isn't any issue with winter sowing in full sun however your emerging plants are at much greater risk of being cooked or moisture stressed. For that reason many people (including myself) find it easier to use areas for the pot ghetto that isn't prone to full sun unless it is easy to reach and keep an eye on as temps rise-even then you are likely to have higher losses.
My pot getto is on the back patio that gets sun from sunrise till about 2pm. I've gotten out my two black cement mixing tubs and am ready to bottom water any jugs that may need watering. I can soak 6 jugs at a time. It's the most convenient place, walk out the patio door and turn water on...... As other have stated, need to keep an eye on them and IÃ¯Â¿Â½m sure things will be fine.
great thread! Has anyone tried winter sowing indoors?
I am thinking about trying it in our 3 season porch. That way, they can't be potentially drowned by too much rain plus they will probably germinate sooner since it will be a little bit warmer. Tony
Several people have postsed on the winter sowing forum regarding sowing on their three season porches and having success. The main things I recall of concern is being sure to water enough to keep soil moist since the containers do not have acess to rain/snow and the amount of sunlight available to seedlings. If you post on the ws forum asking for advice about special needs when using your porch you might get more helpful responses.
This post was edited by mnwsgal on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 16:29
I've been veggie gardening for @ 4 years now, and today is the first time I've seen the idea of winter sowing. It sounds like a wonderful solution to me. I've wanted to try saving seeds from heirloom varieties, but I know that trying to start seeds indoors would be futile for me- anything grown inside my houses is guaranteed to die. At least out in the garden things have fighting chance. Instead I've stuck with plant starts from the nursery, and things that will grow in our short season. I'm now really excited about trying this. This winter has lasted so long, I'm sure there is still time to do it this year. It's the end of Feb, but the temp is currently 0, and there's still 2 feet of snow covering my yard!