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What is Winter Sowing?

Posted by trillium15 z6a Ontario (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 18, 06 at 17:24

Hi. I'm new to this forum and I am usually in the Canadian Exchange Forum. What exactly is wintersowing?

I've been starting seeds indoors in March to plant out each summer. I grow them in the spring after the Canada Blooms Show where I usually get all my seeds. Then I set up my grow lights and go to town in March/April depending on how many weeks it says to start them ahead of time indoors. Then i harden them off outside gradually and then plant them in the garden.

Is that wintersowing or am I missing out on a whole other way to grow plants?

If this is the same as wintersowing can anyone tell me how to get my poppies from growing spindly little necks and then flopping over? I keep them so close to the lights and gradually move them downwards so they are not craning their necks to get to the light but nothing seems to work. I end up plunking them in the ground, flopped over and they eventually grow nicely and bloom but it's still so frustrating at first.

Also, any ideas on how to fatten up my sweetpeas? i keep pinching them off to try and get them bushier but to no avail. They are long and spindly and usually fry and die out in the sun.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What is Winter Sowing?

Oh Trillium, you just don't know what you've been missing! The link below is to the main Winter Sowing site and the Frequently Asked Questions that lay it all out.

Basically, Winter Sowing is sowing your seeds outdoors in late winter. Different from direct sowing, you use covered containers (see posting re containers) that act like a mini greenhouse. It's a little stressful to see your containers sitting in the yard, covered in snow, but it works!

The theory is that the seeds anticipate spring and start developing a root system before you see any activity on the surface. Then, when they know it's time, they start growing towards the surface. So by the time you see any movement, they've got a healthy root system that will send them ahead of seeds started indoors that sprout in the warmth but don't have a good foundation.

You totally avoid hardening off, grow lights, spindly seedlings, floppy poppies, a kitchen full of seedling trays, all your windowsills covered in pots, damping off, etc.

Plus, you can buy soil & seeds now on sale, and keep them until you start sowing in January.

Start saving containers now. Though, if you have an addictive personality, you might want to forget all of this and go read some improving literature instead.

"Hi. I'm Cangrow and it's been two weeks since I bought flower seeds..."

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

RE: What is Winter Sowing?

"Hi. I'm Cangrow and it's been two weeks since I bought flower seeds..."

Hi Trillium, yes, for sure, lots of good reading at the WS FAQ page. It will explain everything you want to know.

I too still indoor sow but I use that precious space now for my tenders. The rest are all WS'd outdoors.

Poppies are a great candidate for WS'ing, I'm sure you'll be very pleased with the results compared to sowing them indoors. You can also direct sow them early spring, but you'll have much better control where you want them planted if you WS. Once they get established, they will pretty well self-seed every year for you.

Sweet Peas like cool conditions, perfect conditions here in zone 2 ;)
Look for CUTHBERTSON Series, which is an heat tolerant strain, Stokes sell them if youre interested. Also Sweet peas are heavy feeders, so fertilize regularly. If this is your first planting of peas in the garden, its a good idea to mix Garden Innoculant to give them a boost.


RE: What is Winter Sowing?

Hi Trillium:
You will never use another grow-light after you've tried winter sowing. I hated doing all that basement stuff, but mostly I hated hardening off. I lost many plants by forgetting them outside when hardening off. I had thought about it for several years, but I tried doing the planting in situ, which mostly did not work. I learned what I needed to do when I came across this article, which I suggest you read:
This will give you some ideas from the 'Mother' of winter sowing, Trudi. Also some ideas on containers. For all other winter sowers, I got my McConnel Fall catalogue last week, and to my surprise, whereas Fall catalogues usually only have bulbs and perennials, there's a section callled "Early Starter Seeds". The catalogue has only a few offerings: petunias, impatiens, Eustoma, some herbs, but there is bold notice to 'Check website for additional varieties'. So we may have changed the face of the industry: providing seeds in the Fall for the Winter Sowers.

RE: What is Winter Sowing?

The Pumpkin Nook also has a great selection of inexpensive seeds and they ship to Canada. I've provided the link below.

Here are some of the containers I used last winter. These are salad containers from catered luncheons at work. I also used those big plastic see-thru containers lettuce comes in.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pumpkin Nook

RE: What is Winter Sowing?

Yes Northerner, I noticed that too that McConnel are selling early starter seeds, I guess they're catching on too ;)


RE: What is Winter Sowing?

Well let me add my 2 cents as well. Before wintersowing I never grew anything from seed other than veggies. Never had the money or time to invest in a grow light system but when I discovered the main wintersowing forum 4 years ago I thought to myself I could do this. I started small with about 50 containers. Most of my friends and family thought I had lost my mind but I really believed that it would work. That spring I could not believe my success and had wished I had done alot more.
The plants that I now have in my garden thanks to wintersowing is fantastic. The past 2 years I have also been doing some annuals and this year I am preplanning my containers and windowboxes with wintersowing.
As everyone has said you will absolutely love this method and we will all be here to help you out with any questions and to scream with you when you see your very first sprout and then when you transplant out and when the first one blooms.
So welcome to wintersowing hope you give it a whirl!


RE: What is Winter Sowing?

Hi Trillium! Welcome to winter sowing at it's best! And say goodbye to spindly plants.

I've been doing it for four years and loving every minute of it. Have fun this winter!

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