Upstate NY Winter Sowers (any Zone 4s out there?)

lblack61(z5 NY)December 19, 2004

I've been going over the messages on WS in the Upstate NY forum as I am finally getting the jitters about WS'in where I was carefree a few days ago.

I think my jitters come from:

1. Predicted windchills of -12 below zero

2. Being in what I believe to be a micro-zone but with no data to confirm that. Sone catalogs say I'm in Zone 5 and some say Zone 4.

3. I read in the MN gardening forum that those in Zone 3 have different WS rules (ie, WS in fall or else wait until March due to extreme cold temps in December). Could this be Zone 4 as well?

I can't tell where I am on this spectrum.

Anyway, are there rules specific to us Upstate New Yorkers that maybe wouldn't apply to those in warmer climates?

When did you all typically start your WS'in in the past?

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Hooti(z5 NY)

Hi-I WS last year and will modify my methods from when I started. I will chill my seeds more slowly this year. They are in the refridgerator now. Anything I pick up I will refridgerate first, then I will sow them when we have a few days in the 30's predicted, or else put them in unheated storage rooms upstairs. I sowed as many as I could directly on the ground in the fall.

I WS jacob's ladder in january and some other in april and the former did not germinate (not even one), the second had high germination and thrived. They were from different suppliers though.

It's cold tonight! We have -2.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 12:57AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

BRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....we're going to have a high of 6 degrees at 5 o'clock today...Where's my bikini??
Pax to you too :-)
Doesn't the snow give a real sense of peace (when you're indoors and don't have to drive in it)?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 9:39AM
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fairydancer(z5 NY)


Why wait for 30 degree weather to sow your seeds? I thought the seeds were supposed to freeze?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 11:26AM
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Hooti(z5 NY)

Although it is true that seeds native to cold climates freeze over winter, when you think of it, they do not go from warm to sudden freeze, but go through cycles of gradually lowering temperatures. Some seeds can take a drastic sudden freeze but others can not. Chilling in the refridgerator should help, but because its dry cold and not wet stratification I am unsure if that makes a difference, so if I take them from the fridge and sow them at a similiar temperature and then they go through a naturally lowering cycle, seeds that are fragile or sensitive are in a best case scenario very similiar to what they would go through in nature.

Most species will break dormancy at temperatures 32-40 and do not need to freeze, though if frozen correctly they will also germinate. For many that does mean moist stratification though. How much trouble you want to go through may also be proportionate to how hard it is to get seeds for that species (some wildflower seeds cannot be purchased by large suppliers because they have special storage needs and/or time constraints) or how costly. Also where Virgo is in your natal chart *grin*.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 11:04PM
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fairydancer(z5 NY)

oh my! I'm just going to throw them out in the cold and wish them luck. lol!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 6:26AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

That's about what I did. I just recovered from a brown thumb the past two years, so I have more faith than experience (with NO experience behind me on WSing).
I put them containers out there and let nature do what it will.
I got over my jitters from the other day. Now I'm just making various cookie doughs for the holidays and dancing to U2! :-)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 1:37PM
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"How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" is a great CD, I'm convinced they can't write bad music. REAL talent.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 1:53PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

Definitely. I heard Vertigo on the IPod commercials and said, "Where can I get that song". Then the CD came out and I immediately bought it. It IS a great CD.
When I was much younger, I missed seeing them at The Red Creek in Rochester only because they wouldn't do a sound check while people were eating. I forgave them readily, and saw them at the RIT Skating Rink in '84. That concert was better than church.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 6:00PM
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kathy2(z6 NY)


I'm located half-way between Rochester and Syracuse. I think I'm zone 6 but it may be 5. This is my first year at winter sowing and I've been reading the winter sowing forum but I love the Upstate New York forum and would love to have some suggestions on winter sowing in this area. When will you start? The temps have been up and down so I was wondering, is it best to wait for them to go down and stay there for a while? I'm going to try marigolds, impatiens and I'd like to try some veggies: tomatoes and peppers. Thanks in advance for the HELP!


    Bookmark   December 22, 2004 at 4:10PM
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faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)

Kathy: Good luck to you! This is my first year also. I'm in Hamburg, which I believe is zone 5. Who knows in this part of the country- things change so fast.

I'm planning to do my winter sowing in January for my perennials. I might wait for a few days with temps in the 30s, if we get any. If not, just plant my jugs and plop them outside.

I'll do my annuals in March or so, when the coldest weather has passed.

Here is a link that might be useful: My website

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 10:21AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

From what I've read on the forums, you probably want to wait until March to do marigolds. Any seed that is a fast growing annual is what people are saying should wait until later in the winter. But then it may not be a hard and fast rule.
Also for Impatiens, they need warmth for germination, so I'm not sure they would be a choice for winter sowing. I'm planning on doing Impatiens indoors with a heating pad.

This is the list of what I've WS so far:
1. Lupine- Russell Hybrids Mixed
2. Delphinium (Pacific Giants and Magic Fountains)
3. Columbine- William Guinness, Blue Star, Mixed
4. Foxglove
5. English Wallflower
6. English Daisies- Pink Pommette, Double, Super Enorma
7. Tansies
8. Meadow Rue
9. Sea Holly

  1. Blue Fescue
  2. Baby's Breath
  3. Hollyhocks Creme de Cassis
  4. Hollyhocks Zebrina (Malva Sylvestris)
  5. Dianthus Microchip Mix and "Sooty"
  6. Felicia Bergerania (I think this is more like Impatiens, needing warmth for germination, but I threw it in anyway)
  7. Fritallaria Meleagris (aka Snake head lily, checkered lily). I wanted to direct sow this, but the snow in the backyard has kept me from doing so.
  8. Lady's Mantle

I'm taking a break from WS for a few days and baking cookies for the holidays. But I have some seeds (Japanese Flowering Cherry), that I have soaking in preparation for WS late in the Winter, just before Spring.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 9:56PM
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kathy2(z6 NY)

Thank you "faltered" and "1black61". I appreciate all of the information I can get and any additional that others can send my way for us new upstate New Yorker first time wintersowers! Merry Christmas to all!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2004 at 11:25AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

Another container sown yesterday.

  1. Prunnus Serralata (Japanese Flowering Cherry)
    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 9:19AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

Just did a few containers yesterday and some today before getting ready for work. I used my first jugs today(thank God for duct tape and plastic as I cut one too low)

  1. Hardy Geranium "Reflections"
  2. Pansy Aquarelle
  3. Scabiosa "Summer Sundae"
  4. Scabiosa "Ebony and Ivory"

I think the snow I'm sticking them in is melting today, but I don't think it will be long before it's cold again!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 10:21AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I'm missing something on my lists between here and the "First 10 Containers" post at the WS forum. I'll figure out what when I input my stuff into Word. What isn't here is

  1. Salvia (Blue Bedder Sage)
  2. Salvia (Vista Mix)
    Anyway, I sowed these today:
  3. Rock Cress
    26.Great Bellflower (Campanula Latifolia)
    27.Bellflower (Campanula Carpatica)
    28.Lupine (Regalis Dwarf Lulu Mix...what a name)
    29.Lupine "Summer Spires"
  4. Great Lobelia
    31.Vinca "Stardust Mix"
  5. Vinca "Cascade Appleblossom"
    33.Angel's Trumpet "Double Golden Queen"
  6. Angel's Trumpet "Double Black Currant Swirl"
  7. Oenothera Missouris "Ozark Sundrops"
  8. Ascelpias Tuberosa
  9. Coral Bells

I'm tired. Time to take this rag off my head and relax. It was a good day !

    Bookmark   January 2, 2005 at 5:28PM
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missmshell(z4 Carthage,NY)

Hi everyone,

Been lurking here for a while. Love this forum! I live in zone 4 and I am WS for the 1st time this year. Going to start this weekend. Just wanted to say Good Luck to everyone :) Oh and by the way, U2 totally rocks!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2005 at 3:13PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

lblack61, I want to meet you when time for plant swap!;-0 You've got everything!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 9:01AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I broke the 50 container's the list:
I'm up to 57. Here's what I did this morning:

  1. sedum hardy blend
  2. Poopies (as bakemom says :-) Pizzicato
  3. More Poppies Checkers
    46.Pansy "Rippling Waters"
    47.Oenothera Speciosa
    48.Aster, "Crego" Mixed colors
  4. Cornflower
  5. Johnny JumpUp
  6. Candy Tuft
  7. Lupine "Tutti Frutti" (I MUST have Lupine in the spring. I think I've sown three containers at least so far in addition to six bareroots planted this past fall)
  8. Four O'Clocks (2 containers. Big seeds!)
  9. Four O'Clocks
  10. Bachelor Buttons
  11. Violas
    57.Sweet Pea Dwarf Patio Mix
    If they all grow successfully, I AM going to have learn the ropes on plant swapping, gottagarden! Most people said the more seeds they WS, the more success they experienced, so I'm trying to do as many as I can and as many varieties as I can. If one plant doesn't work out, I'll have a back up, or else I have a lot to trade and give away :-)
    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 8:36PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

just hauled my potting soil out of the garage. THought I better do that while we had a nice day ...63 degrees right now. haven't started sowing yet though. Plan to start this week end.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 11:43AM
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I'm in Wilton (zone 4) and I have seeds that I collected from my sunflowers, round-headed bush clover, butterfly weed (the orange one), common swampweed (the white ones with the cool pods!), and some miscellaneous others.

I've never WS before, but I'd like to try my hand at it now. So do you just water them once you put them in the jugs or containers... and then just hope for the best???

adkmountaingirl :)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 2:17PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)


You gotta check out the Winter Sowing Forum. The Faqs section has all the info. This is my first year, and I never would have tried it if it weren't so darned easy.
I've used several different type of containers (jugs, take-out containers, produce containers, old yogurt containers). I'd tell more, but really, you have to read Trudi's directions in the WS forum. She really is thorough. Check it out:

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

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 7:56PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I agree with checking out the winter sowing forum but basically after you prepare your containers and sow your seeds, you just make sure that the containers don't dry out once it starts to warm up. You may need to add a bit of water occasionally. once they are sprouting they don't need to be kept as wet. Just moist. You will also have to open up the containers once it warms up so heat doesn't build up inside until they are transplanted out.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 7:38AM
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lblack61: Thanks SO MUCH for the link to the WS forum. I went in and printed out a bunch of stuff on the basics of WS. Cool! I can't wait to read it tonight. I'll let you know how I do!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 2:46PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

i finally got my first 20 containers done. this is what I have done so far:

African Lion's Tail
Agastache Apricot Sunrise
Agastache Barberi
Agastache Canna
Agastache Firebird
Agastache Neomexicana
Agastache Pringlei
Native Columbine
Burning Bush
Carolina Jessamine Vine
Lavender Hardy Hibiscus
Pink Hollyhocks
Maltese Cross
Monarda Jacob's Cline
Penstemen Red Rocks
Rose of Sharon Pink
Rose of Sharon Lavender
I should have enough seed to do another sowing if i still have some containers left after I sow everything else.

I will be saving most of my annuals for later in the season as I found that sowing them later gave better germination results.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 12:17PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

"Agastache"... I like saying that like WC

Good for you, Penny...they are probably getting a really good snow cover today!
I put out some more containers this morning too:
Early Girl Hybrid Tomato
Burpees Early Hybrid Tomato
Jacobs Ladder
Achillea Summer Berries
Achillea Red
Cat Mint
Lemon Catnip (I'm keeping my lazy kitties happy)
Cupid's Dart
American Ginseng
( I did another container, but or the life of me, I can't remember what it was-- and I'm at work, away from my babies)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 2:16PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I just remembered...Monarda Didyma (Oswego Tea)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 2:22PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

all good choices1 Yes those containers are getting a very good dose of snow today.

I did jacob's ladder last year and I think every single seed germinated. I have it planted all over my yard now...every place i had a bare spot got some jacob's ladder by the end of the summer and until this last snow fall it was all still green.

Monarda also germinated like crazy. this year I decided to go with the Jacob's cline as it is more mildew resistant. haven't done my tomatoes yet. I will do those probably the first week in Feb. I have some Early Girl coming from Trudi that I am looking forward to trying this year.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 3:40PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

Boy, we got dumped on, too! Those containers I put out were covered with snow in three hours, now they are under at least six inches! I won't know where to find them (I almost shoveled some up)!
I'm running out of space to put containers too. And I still have more to go between now and March. I gotta make a plan.

That's great to hear about the Monarda. I know a few people in the area who wanted some but didn't know where to find it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2005 at 7:43PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

you will be amazed at the germination of the Monarda. I think everyone of my seeds sprouted. I had it growing everywhere.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 10:35AM
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Did you buy the Monarda seeds, or did you use some from last year's blooms that were still visible above the snow?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 10:06AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I bought the Monarda seeds from Parks because I don't have any in my yard and I don't know anyone else in the area who had any growing in theirs.
I did take some seeds and chaff from the Astilbe that still had tops poking through (before we got a lot of snow). I WSed those last week. (I was amazed at how well the Astilbe did in all shade as opposed to the ones that were in part shade!)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 7:47PM
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I'm going to go out today and get some Monarda seeds in my yard and try this -- the bee balm grows wonderfully in my yard and the hummingbirds love it, so the more I have, the happier they'll be. The astilbe is covered with snow, but it might be more visible after a few days of this tropical weather we're supposed to have (finally up in the 20's!!)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 10:23AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

my seed that i wintersowed last year was purchased at Home Depot. this year I have a little bit of my own seed and some from a trade. Humminbirds don't go for just any monarda. they are partial to Jacob's Cline.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 2:33PM
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I have a very tall, dark red monarda that attracts several hummingbirds every summer. I'm not sure of the exact type, but I know they love it. There also is some purplish/violet monarda that they totally ignore, but that the bees seem to like.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 3:27PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Your tall red monarda may well be the Jacob's Cline. The bees love my pink and purple monarda also.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 5:23PM
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I have one particularly nasty hummingbird who thinks that everything I plant belongs to him/her(?) and spends most of his/her time chasing away all the other hummingbirds instead of sitting back and relaxing and enjoying the bee balm. They're very territorial little birds, aren't they? But lots of fun to watch--can't wait until they return next summer.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 11:37AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

That is the nature of the hummingbird. They are so tiny they have to think nasty and territorial but I think that is part of the fun of watching them.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 7:36AM
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I looked in my Bluestone catalog and think the bee balm must the Jacob Cline -- they grow well over 5' tall.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 1:39PM
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