Happy Winter Solstice!

Okiedawn OK Zone 7December 23, 2012

Well, OK, I am a couple of days late with this, but the holiday season always is insanely busy and the solstice sneaks past me sometimes.

I love the winter solstice because once it has arrived, then we have the joy of knowing that the amount of daylight will begin lengthening now instead of shortening. I hate the short day length of winter days, so am happy we're now moving towards increasing amounts of daylight each day, albeit at a painfully slow rate.

Anyone ready to start wintersowing right after the holidays?

I have some perennial seeds I'll winter sow right after the holidays.


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I'm going to try winter sowing lavender. In a whiskey barrel. The soil is ready and amended, I left a few inches from the rim so they will have a little room to get started. I'll cover with plastic sheet. I know germination rates are low but I'm going to try. I used to have a couple of really large plants and miss it.

I might try winter sowing some Sweet Beverly.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Can you all explain how you would winter sow and what kind of plants you can do this with? I too have lavender and other perennial seed, but didn't know about winter sowing!
Happy Solstice and Holidays to all!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Betty, I've had good luck wintersowing lavender seeds into a container on the sunporch (actually, back when it was only a screened-in porch and stayed colder). I surfaced sowed them into a good soil-less growing medium in early winter, misted them, and then covered the clay pot they were in with Saran Wrap until they germinated. They germinated erratically but a lot of them did germinate. They are teeny-tiny when they germinate and it takes them a while to grow to a decent size.

Trees4ok, Winter sowing is a simple method of sowing seeds in covered containers (often milk jugs are modified and used) outdoors in the winter time. It provides a way of sowing seeds that is simple, relatively trouble-free (I sometimes have trouble with wild varmints getting into my containers in winter...apparently thinking there might be something there to eat...but I am in a very rural area with lots of wildlife) and doesn't take up space indoors. The seeds will sprout when the conditions are right for them.

Although you can use winter sowing with almost any seed in most climates, you have to be careful about the timing of your plantings in a climate like ours where the weather swings erratically from pretty cold to pretty hot in the winter (with hot being relative). You don't want for seeds of annuals to sprout too early and later freeze in a bitter cold spell.

Winter sowing is particularly helpful with any varieties of biennial, perennial, vine, shrub, tree, etc. that has very exacting cold stratification needs. Instead of sowing seed into a seedling flat that then has to go into a refrigerator for several weeks to meet a variety's need for moist, cold stratification to induce germination, you just winter-sow it outdoors, and when the specific variety's stratification needs have been met, the seeds will sprout. Because they've been raised out in the actual temperatures, the young seedlings are very cold-hardy,although even wintersown seedlings may freeze in bitterly-cold weather. (Sometimes they don't freeze, sometimes they do.)

You can learn in great detail about wintersowing at wintersown.org or at the Winter Sowing forum here at GW, which I've linked below.

I generally only use it for seeds of perennial vines, perennials, biennials, shrubs or trees, and occasionally for herbs. I generally sow vegetable seeds inside on a heated light shelf in a spare room so I can have them at the age and size I want by transplanting time.

The way I handle annual flower seeds varies. Sometimes I just direct sow them in the ground in fall, winter or spring, and sometimes I start them inside in flats. My zone 7b location stays warm enough in winter that I can broadcast sow seeds of cool-season annuals like poppies and larkspur in January on bare soil and they'll sprout and be in bloom by March or April at the latest. I even sow some wildflower seeds on bare ground in November and they germinate in winter or spring as appropriate for them, so I don't bother wintersowing them in containers either. There's no reason for me to go to the trouble of winter-sowing those and transplanting them into the ground later in a normal winter. In an extra-wet winter, it can pay to wintersow them if the clay soil stays incredibly wet which could cause the seeds or very young seedlings to rot. I rarely wintersow annuals, but that's just because I have other ways to sow them in containers.....on the sunporch, in the greenhouse, etc.

For people who have been frustrated by how hard it can be to get some biennial and perennial seeds to sprout indoors under lights, wintersowing is the obvious answer. Often, these types of seeds don't germinate well indoors because they need alternating warm/cold conditions and sometimes alternating light/dark conditions to induce germination. Wintersow seeds outdoors get the varying daylenth, periods of dark and light, and periods of alternating warmth and cold that those types of seeds need. So, why winter sow them in containers instead of indirectly into the ground? Because you can maintain control. Once seeds are in the ground, rain can wash them away, wind can blow them away if they are the type that need to be sown on the soil surface, uncovered, because they need light to germinate, insects and birds can eat the seeds, etc. If they are seeds that have a long stratification period, often they fail to germinate before they're eaten or otherwise carried off. When you have them in containers, they are "safe" from harm.

There are a few things I'd never, ever winter-sow, including tomatoes and peppers in our climate. While folks in some climates with a milder summer can do it, you may find that they germinate too late here if wintersown, and then are too small to make good growth and set fruit well before the heat arrives. With peppers, it is even more complicated because they do not tolerate being cold (but above freezing) as well as tomato plants do. Often if pepper plants have prolonged exposure to low-but-above-freezing temperatures, they'll survive and you won't see any outward signs of damage, but they'll be very slow to make good growth, to flower and to set fruit.

Hope this explanation helps.

I'll come back in a couple of days and post a list of what I've winter-sown. Until I drag out the seed box and containers, I'm never 100% positive what I am going to winter sow.

I've linked the FAQ page from the winter sowing forum for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ Page From Winter Sowing Forum

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 7:20AM
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If that snow hits, we'll be partying but not because of the Holidays ... just because of the precipitation!!


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 7:34AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I just hope it is a wet snow. In 2010 it was more of a dry snow that didn't add much of anything to the rainfall totals when they melted it down and measured it, which was a huge disappointment.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Thank you Dawn!!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:51AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Trees, You're welcome.

Bon, We had over an inch of rain before we had a few inches of sleet and snow, so we have mud. I imagine you can guess how much I am celebrating having mud for a change instead of dust.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 3:11PM
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