Winter Sowing is fun :)

conniemcgheeJanuary 11, 2010

So, I've been sucked into the mad mad world of winter sowing this year. You may or may not have noticed there is a forum for that on gw.

Have any of you ever tried it? I know Velvet has. :)

I'm up to over 100 containers...I think about 110. I'm sowing all kinds of perennials. If they all live I am really going to be in trouble, 'cause I don't know where I'll put them all!

If you haven't heard of it, the idea is that you sow perennial seeds in the winter in containers (I'm using a lot of styrofoam and plastic yogurt containers). You then cover the container with plastic wrap and make a few holes for air and water, wait.

Supposedly, there is an unbelievable success rate with this method. The seedlings are very hardy (they say), and there is no damp-off.

I thought it would be fun to try it and see what happens. I have sowed a lot more containers than I will actually need of most things, so if I'm successful I will be bringing some things to the spring swap.

I got most of the seeds on the Seed Exchange forum, which is a very addictive place to hang out (fair warning). Many things I got are not readily available commercially, certainly not locally and some of them can't even be found online. What first drew me there was the search for white beautyberry. I couldn't find a source for this anywhere, but lo and behold someone had seeds and it's a good candidate for winter sowing. I was only going to sow that one thing...well, you know how that goes.

Anyway, just wanted to share. At any rate it's been fun to play in the dirt this winter. And maybe I'll get at least a few viable plants out of the deal. If I only get my white beautyberry I'll be pretty happy. :)

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I don't know if I am just a slow learner but I tried 5 containers last year and didn't get a single thing out of any of them! Maybe it was the seeds, maybe I didn't hold my mouth right...who knows? If you have luck I may try again next year. I only sowed 5 milk jugs full because I knew I would be mad as heck if I sowed a lot and bombed (which I did). It is fun to play in the dirt though. I wish you much success!
Jenn F

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 6:06PM
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Ooo, uh oh - that's not good! Do you remember what you sowed? Boy, I am going to be madder than heck if I sowed 100+ containers and don't get something!!! :O

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 10:45AM
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velsgarden(TN 7)

Hey Connie,I knew you would love it.It can be very addictive.Last year I sowed over 300 jugs and I'll say probally only 50 jugs didnt germinate,but you have to remember some seeds need warm,cold,warm, and cold again to germ.I dont know if you know it or not but you can also sow hardy annuals right now.Ive think I have about 100 jugs sown now.Doing more tonight.That is one thing I ask for xmas this year...2 big bags of potting mix so I could family thought I was crazy.
Just wait until spring and you will be amazed at all the plants you will have.If you need anything,just holler!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 3:39PM
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It was probably just me and/or the seeds. I think I sowed larkspur, white coneflower, blue festuca, bee balm and I can't remember the other one. I'll cheer you on...if you have good success I'll try, try again!
Jennifer F

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:21PM
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It takes a true gardener to ask for dirt for Christmas. :p I actually just got my Mom dirt for her birthday, and she loved it. She has really enjoyed telling all her friends that I got her dirt. LOL

Velvet, it IS addictive! I sure hope I am successful...with some of it anyway. Everyone on the winter sowing forum says, just like you, that I will be amazed at the number of plants. I am hopeful!

I've sowed a bunch of different things...Lots of coneflower (different kinds, mostly regular purple and Tennesseensis), some bee balm, eryngium/sea holly, the white beautyberry, balloon flowers (blue and white), rudbeckia, galliardia, butterfly bush, a rose of sharon...I don't even remember everything that's out there right now! LOL

I was saving some of the annual-type stuff cause I was not sure when to start with it. So, you think hollyhocks could go now? I can't decide if I should direct sow those or not. I've never done hollyhocks before because of the biennial thing - I've always just stuck with perennials that you plant once and that's it.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 10:44PM
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velsgarden(TN 7)

Connie,last year I sowed my hollyhocks in Jan.Any hardy annual or any plant that reseeds can be sown now.If you get that white beautyberry going,i will be sure to want some of that.....

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 11:29PM
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I am going to attempt some late W inter sowing in a few weeks with the help of a few items i'm purchasing from Jung next Friday. =) Anyone have any experience with the $45 or so plug-in-able seed starting mini-greenhouses or those supposed water-filled conical snuggy things you put around plants when you put them outside a bit earlier than usual? I'll try to find a link for these. Any opinions/experience from other gardeners would be helpful. All veggie plants that these will be used for.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 5:02PM
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I sowed several containers of the white beautyberry (because I really want it!), so if I have more than one come up, I'll bring it to you at the spring swap. I wonder if it would be up by then, though. I know they're supposed to be really late to emerge...I wonder if that's true in the case of seedlings?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 7:58AM
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I stuck some Pawpaw seeds in some containers this morning.
If I can get them to sprout, and then baby them along, maybe I will end up with a few trees containing "Tennessee Bananas" in a few years.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 7:59PM
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OMG! I thought I was doing good saving about 25 bottles. I haven't sown them yet but plan to do it next weekend. had to babysit today and grandson was not feeling well so i didn't take him outside to play in the dirt with me -he loves playing in the dirt. I think he will be a dirt digger too!

Here is a link that might be useful: blog -new post

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 8:49PM
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Kathy, 25 bottles is a lot!! I'm not doing everything in big containers. I used a lot of styrofoam cups (which I hope will work OK). My favorite thing to use is the big yogurt containers. I have started cutting away most of the lid and leaving just the lip, under which you can put plastic wrap and then snap the lid back on. No taping. I almost impaled myself trying to poke holes in soda bottles last night. :p

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 9:32AM
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I just hopped on the winter sowing bandwagon this year. Have two or three containers of a few different types of tomatoes, some asters, poppies, and some other random stuff out there...I'm up to 30 right now, and am waiting on my Baker Creek order to get here (and for the cheap seeds to start showing up at the big box stores) to do some more. I'm a little nervous about my tomatoes (we have spaghetti once a week, and I have to make at least 52 quarts of sauce each season) since this is my first time trying winter sowing, so I have reserved some tomato seeds to do under lights.

I have two small kids, so most of my sowing is in Juicy Juice bottles, but doing it with the 2 liters is SO much easier - I cut slits on the sides so I don't have to tape, just push the top all the way down. I'm going to be raiding the recycling center this week for more 2 liters.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 2:03PM
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cheliah(Tn ZN6)

I am so ready to try the winter sowing myself. What is good to try in this area? I am in Crossville, about halfway between Knoxville and Nashville. What about everyone else?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 9:44PM
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I'm in Nashville. Cheliah, go check out the winter sowing forum! You can do pretty much any perennial or biennial that is hardy in this area. I'm doing whatever struck my fancy, from Blackberry Lily to Sea Holly to Echinaceas to Butterfly Bush... :)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 10:31AM
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cheliah(Tn ZN6)

The winter sowing forum is one of my favorites. I'm curious what garden vegetables work the best with winter sowing? and if it's goo late to start this winter? I have been preparing to start seedlings inside to set out in the spring, and what I can put outside now that will work.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 12:57AM
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Oh, that I don't know. I have never done veggies. I know there are some you can ws though...

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 9:15AM
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Connie, I did poke a hole in my thumb putting drain holes in the bottles. I have a trick for poking the bottle holes. I heat an ice pick on a stove burner until it is hot enough to melt through the plastic. Turn the fan on 'cause the fumes are probably toxic.

I planted most of my seeds a couple of weeks ago and will finish the rest today. I wrote a blog post about it. Here's the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: winter sowing

    Bookmark   February 6, 2010 at 11:14AM
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I like your blog! :) I'm still finishing up my ws-ing. I think I have four more things coming next week. I made a list of everything I've sowed, and it is a little mind-boggling right now trying to think of where I will put it all! :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 10:07PM
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