Winter Sowing- Have you Started Yet?

faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)January 17, 2006

I was so busy with the holiday rush and what-not, that I didn't get around to starting my winter sown seeds. Then with the warm temps we had I thought it best to wait until things settled back down.

Have you all started your perennial seeds yet? Or are you waiting a few more weeks?

Just curious what my fellow New Yorkers were doing.


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shimla(5 Upstate, NY)

Hi Tracy -

I did four so far LOL! All Coreopsis - a pink, a dwarf red, sweet dreams and creme brulee. Wow - I'm very behind!!! When things settle down for me a bit in a couple of weeks I'm going to get busy. Maybe set aside a couple of Power-Sow-Saturday's and just plant all day! I hope to have all my perennials done by February and then move on to the annuals. I'm trying to keep the list down this year - I have so many other projects to do as soon as spring gets here that I'm not going to have time for 600 pots. I'm just trying to narrow it down to want I really want or need. My current list has well over 200 items - how can that be? I thought I was being careful when I went through the seed box. I'd better do another revision to that list.

I am very glad that I haven't had a chance to get started yet. With the weird weather we are having I'm sure I would have ended up with a ton of sprouts if I'd done containers in December. I'm going to learn from everyone's mistake this year and wait in the following years. Who would have thought we'd have spring temperatures in January! Looking out the window tonight sure looks like winter is back.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 7:05PM
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Hi tracy,
I have not started to winter sow yet, probably in a couple weeks. I did start some coleus last week, when I was transplanting some houseplants. I got the seeds from the cottage garden seed swap. They have just started to sprout. So nice to see some little green sprouts!!!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 12:48PM
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Last year was my first try with winter sowing. I didn't put the seeds out till early March, and they all germinated fine, right on time. So I'm not in a big rush. This freeze/thaw weather here makes me want to wait, especially with annuals.

The main bonus with winter sowing is that you have control over the process and don't lose all your seeds to nature. I did only seeds that needed cold to germinate (poppies, larkspur, bachelor buttons, and a few others), seeds that I would've normally sown on top of the snow.

I felt like I spent too much time adjusting the plastic so the seedlings didn't sunburn, and felt that I'd rather be doing that indoors under lights, warm in my jammies than freezing my butt off. Other than that, it's a great way to start some seeds.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:30AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I have done a few seeds of the following just this week.
Red Yucca
Butterfly Bush

I also did Coral honeysuckle and bottlebrush buckeye back in Nov. as those seeds needed to be sown fresh.

I just couldn't wait to get my hands in the dirt. I will wait a little longer to see what the weather is going to do before starting anything else as a lot of my seeds are tender perennials.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:38AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I've started, mostly because I still need more perennials in the yard and my SIL's yard which is next to mine. I've got about 80 things out there now.
I think this means I'll be doing less annuals...uhh...probably not. I have twice as many annual seeds packets as perennials. So I guess my list will be as high as last years.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 6:09PM
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faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)

Thanks for all the feedback everyone! I think I'll wait a couple more weeks to start my perennials. I hear February is supposed to be closer to normal for us.

Happy sowing!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 8:33AM
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adina72(z5 CNY)

I did my containers on Jan. 2nd and I still have a few more I want to get to. I haven't even checked them to see if any have sprouted. I hope not. I will have to take a look at them tomorrow. I've got daffies trying to come up though. What crazy weather. So far I have sown:

Burgandy Gaillardia
Snowdrift Daisy
False Mallow (Lavender)
White Swan Echinacea
Orange Meadowbrite Echinacea
Wild Lupine
Siberian Wallflower
Winky Rose Columbine
Prairie Sun Rudbeckia
Blue Bird Forget Me Nots
Pretty Bonnetts Columbine
Liatris Blazing Star
Purple Bee Balm
Dame's Rocket
Panarama Mix Monarda
Blue Angel Columbine
Wild Eastern Columbine
Purple Coneflowers
McKanna's Columbine
Purple/White Columbine
Pink Butterfly Weed
And a mystery flower that I took seeds from at our ice cream shop.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 4:43PM
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fairydancer(z5 NY)

I've got about 100 containers out already. I was getting worried when we had our last warm spell last week....but I don't *think* anything fully sprouted. Then I felt better when last weekend was so nasty cold and we got 4 inches of snow. Now, 2 more days of uncanny warm weather. Of course, I'm worried again. Nothing I can do though. I'll be doing the rest of my perennials and hardy annuals on Tuesday and just hope for the best. If I have lots of ruined containers, at least I won't have to buy much more miracle gro for my patio boxes and container gardens!

I didn't do my annuals in March last year like everyone suggests, so I'm also going to give that a try this year. I hope to get better germination by waiting until then.

I do wonder what February and March will bring us here....


    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 6:39AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Well I haven't sown any more since my last post. I have Daff's up almost 2 inches now and tulips are beginning to emerge from the soil. I decided to go take a look out back to see what was going on back ther and low and behold my flowerring red currant shrubs are budding now too. All this is great if the temps don't plummet.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 12:41PM
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I have my containers that I put together awhile ago sitting in my basement. My plan was to put seeds in them and put them outside at the end of the month. Hopefully it will turn to winter by then.
On another note, I found that Juicy Juice plastic bottles work great to make WS containers. I drink a lot of it. They can be cut so that they pretty much snap back together real tight. They can be picked up from the top with soil in them and they hold together.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 3:28PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I used Juicy Juice bottles last year and had really good results with them. I didn't save any this year since I got such a huge stash of nursery pots given to me. I have 4 flats of containers ready and waitng for me to drop those little seeds in them plus 6 or 7 milk jugs and verious other containers all sitting there full of soil and waiting patiently to be sown.

Looks like we may get some snow by thie week end.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 6:36AM
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faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)

Just a random question about winter sowing containers since ya'll were discussing it:

What do you think is the minimum container size? I just purchased these seed start trays from Lee Valley and probably won't use all three for seeds indoors. So I was thinking of using one for winter sowing. Do you think it's not deep enough? I got the deeper ones, with only 32 cells per flat.



    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:25AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Tracy, they should be fine but you will have to check them often to make sure that they don't dry out. I find that the smaller the container the quicker they dry out and when you have lots of containers to keep watered you spend a lot of time checking the moisture level. The smallest size container that I use are yogurt cups or 3 inch nursery pots. Last spring I was watering pots sometimes 2 or 3 times a day even with the 3 inch pots.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 9:48AM
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I seeded and put outside over 30 containers yesterday. I will do a few more, but that was the major portion. They are lining the front of my garage. It looks a little odd, but not that bad. The new neighors are going to think I'm crazy. They just moved in a month ago, and I haven't met them yet.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 10:51AM
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Ok I am farily new to gardening and this forum so maybe you can help me with this. I collected alot of seeds last fall.When I collected the seeds I put them in white mail envolpes and have kept them in the hall to the outside. The temperature has gotten pretty cold out there. Is this bad? And I never heard of Winter Sowing. What is this and how do I know what seeds to sow. What is the best way to do this. Last year I started seeds indoor in Flats and planted them in April. Well it snowed in April and some of them died. But some did make it. Are guys talking about sowing seeds outdoors. In the winter? I have so much to learn! Please help....magicman

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 7:14PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

we are talking about sowing the seeds in containers and then putting the containers outside for the winter until the seeds germinate naturally in the spring. Last year my sunflowers and morning glories survived that late snowfall we had and got so large over the summer that the morning glories grew into my neighbor's tree and the sunflowers are still in the ground b/c I couldn't dig them up. With winter sowing you seldom have a problem with damp off which is what usually kills seedlings started inside. Check out the winter sowing forum FAQ . Tha will answer most of your questions. You can winter sow most anything except the most tender tropical plants. I even do some tender South American Salvias but I do them in late March. This would be a good year to try it out on some of your seeds but I warn you that it is addictive.
Quick tip: If you would like to try it, use good quality potting soil like Miracle Gro, Schultz, or Pro Mix and make sure that whatever container you use to sow the seeds is at least 3 inches deep and make sure the containers don't dry out once the seeds are sown.

I think that wintersowing makes for hardier plants that are more resistant to disease. I grow a lot of zone 7 and 8 plants and some of them are on their 3rd year in my yard. This year I have added bottle brush buckeye seeds to my list and coral honeysuckle so I am hoping I get at least one or two of each. Wintersowing also workd great for seeds that take a long time to germinate or for seeds that need stratification. Between wintersowing and using my own compost in my lasagna bed I had had the most amazing plants both in size and variety. BTW, I also water my young plants once or twice with Aspirin water but that is a topic for another discussion.


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

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 4:50AM
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Penny Thank you so much. I found a link that i read and it helped too.

Winter sow link

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 2:27PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Wayne that is Trudi's website she is our mentor and ghuru on the wintersowing forum. That is her baby. Most of the links on her website will take you to the forum eventually.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 6:27PM
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laurelin(z5a/4b Upstate NY)

Hello all,

I've sown a couple dozen containers so far - mostly perennials or hardy annuals (the amaranth and marigolds are the exception, but they're pretty tolerant). I'm not going to do the bulk of the annuals for a few more weeks at least, but I'm sure I'll do a few more perennials sooner than that. So far I've sown:

Poppy ÂOriental ScarletÂ
Monarda ÂCambridge ScarletÂ
Rudbeckia ÂKelvedon StarÂ
Rudbeckia ÂChim ChimineeÂ
Ratibida ÂRed MidgetÂ
Marigold ÂScarlet StarletÂ
Marigold ÂJaguarÂ
Snapdragon - white (generic seed)
Amaranth ÂMarvel BronzeÂ
Amaranth ÂHot BiscuitsÂ
Dianthus ÂVictorianaÂ
various Daylily crosses (my own seeds - I'm so excited!)
Verbascum bombicyferum
Nicotiana ÂJasmineÂ
Snapdragon ÂBlack PrinceÂ
Potentilla ÂMelton FireÂ
Dianthus ÂChiantiÂ
Malva ÂZebrinaÂ

If winter comes back this week, it will be a rude shock. My soil isn't even frozen yet! How strange. I was out back today digging a new pathway, laying landscape fabric, and filling it in with gravel. On Groundhog Day! Without a coat! Too weird. My tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and reticulated irises are all coming up, too. I've got tiny self-sown nigella seedlings out front that sprouted in the fall, still green as can be. I've even got some new green daylily foliage (I'll probably go pile more mulch on top of those early birds).

At least my family's seasonal affective disorder problem is at low ebb. . . .


    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 9:25PM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

I just learned about winter sowing today and I'm hooked. I just started some poppies, chinese lanterns, baby's breath, echinops (not sure if you can W/S it but it's worth a shot) and rudbeckia.

My question for those of you who are W/S'ing in nursery pots is: how do you cover them?

Also, how ofter do you have to water? I used the margarine container/plastic wrap method and I'm wondering how much natural moisture will be able to get into those tiny holes I poked in it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 4:07PM
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faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)

Julie: I don't use nursery pots myself, but I think those that do either cover them with plastic wrap or put them inside of a clear bag with holes punched in.

As far as watering goes, as long as you gave them a good watering before you set them outside, they should be fine until the weather heats up. Right now they'll probably get some snow covering and when that melts it'll provide moisture. Then when the spring comes, check for condensation in the containers. If you don't see any, give them some water.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 8:35AM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

Great info Tracy, thanks!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 9:41AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I am using a lot of nursery pots this year b/c I made a huge score last year. Usually I only have about a dozen nursery pots but this year i have 4 flats of them. I put them in a flat and slide the whole flat into a plastic storage bag like the kind you would store blankets in. I get them at the dollar store. I also save the zippered bags that new quilts or comforters come in.I use wire that I arch across the flat in three placed this keeps the plastic up off the containers so there is plenty of heady room. When I just have a few nursery pots I just slip a zip lock baggie over the top of the pot with a few slits in it and then put the pots in a flat or some type of container to keep them all together.

As far as watering goes. I make sure that the soil is completely saturated and drained before I sow my seeds. Then they are usually okey unti it starts to warm up in the spring. I slide the flats out of the plastic bag and either use a sprinkling can or the mist attachement on the holse and water everything alls at once and slide them back into the bag. I don't take great pains with watering. I just make sure nothing dries out. You can also move your containers to an area out of direct sun if they dry out to quickly.

As long as you have condensation inside the container they shold be fine.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 11:25AM
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