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Wintersowing '12

Posted by highalttransplant z 5 Western CO (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 16, 12 at 16:01

Well, now that all the peppers are sown indoors, it's time to get started on the outdoor sowing. I prepped a dozen containers, but ran out of seed starting mix after filling nine of them.

Batch #1

Here is what I wintersowed today:

Lettuce, Flame
Lettuce, Four Seasons
Lettuce, Rouge de Grenoblouse
Lettuce, Simpson Elite
Lettuce, Thai Green
Lemon Balm - this makes my 3rd or 4th year to sow. Have yet to keep it alive a whole year.
Agastache, Tango - supposed to be more cold hardy than 'Apricot Sprite'
Gaillardia, Arizona Apricot
Gaillardia, Arizona Red Shades

As soon as I can pick up some more potting mix, I plan to sow some poppies, and petunias.

Has anyone else gotten started with their wintersowing? I usually get started in late January or early February, but this winter has been so mild, that I thought a later start would be a good idea.

I've included a link at the bottom for those new to wintersowing, that want to learn more about it.

Bonnie

Here is a link that might be useful: WinterSown.org


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wintersowing '12

This is my 2nd year WS.
Since we switched to dairy milk which comes in glass bottles, I don't have nearly the stash of plastic milk jugs as I had last year. So I have only been able to sow 11 containers so far.
In them I put:

Kale- Red Winter
Platycodon
Celosia
Coreopsis
Gloriosa Daisy
Echinacea
Euphorbia
Salvia
Amaranth

When I get some more jugs, I want to do some lettuce, spinach and more perennial flowers.

I just might get down to the store to get the materials to set up lights in my basement so I can start some peppers and tomatoes. But that's a different topic.

Bonnie, did you not cut through the sides of your jugs so that you can open them up on warm days?


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Haha! It does look like I did a ship in the bottle type trick, but I'm not that clever. Actually, the window is on the side facing the house : )


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RE: Wintersowing '12

You are too sneaky!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Hi everyone, been MIA for a while with the usual...pesky work! speaking of which I was procratisworking this weekend and started several jugs of

Platycodon
Foxgloves - boy are the seeds like dust!!
Coreopsis
Liatris

Bonnie - I didn't know Lettuce seeds can be winter sown! OMG! I will have to try that this year if I get to it soon.

This is my 2nd yr winter sowing and had great success last year with germination although a few seedlings didn't seem to "grow up" after germinating probably due to the potting mix I used - can't remember what brand but remember that it was chunky and I didn't like that. The seedlings that were in the mix ( can't remember either! ) I had left over from my move back East took off pretty well - hopefully they'll survive the winter now! I did chuck the weak seedlings in the ground though so we shall see if they survived at all. So this year I decided to use seed starter mix (Jiffy) - is this a good idea? Anyways I am planning to sow several more jugs this weekend. BTW FYI Parks have Free Shipping until the 29th - leap day!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Hi Alice,

The Jiffy seed starter mix is fine for winter sowing. That's what I'm using at the moment. The only thing to keep in mind with using a seed starting mix is that it doesn't have any nutrients in it. So once your seedlings are up, if you can't get them in the ground for a while, you may have to fertilize them. Since they are still babies, a weak solution, like maybe 1/2 strength would be plenty.

Lettuce is one of my favorite things to winter sow! It is so reliable, usually the first thing to sprout, grows quickly, and doesn't mind being planted out in little clumps of seedlings. I don't even try to separate them.

Here is a picture of some of last year's lettuce crop.

Topless Jugs

I just broke them up into 3 or 4 pieces, and planted the clumps a few inches apart.

Here is a shot taken of some lettuce about a month after being planted out.

Photobucket

I may try and get a few more containers done today. At the moment it's snowing though, so I may wait until it lets up.

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Great looking lettuce, Bonnie! I'm going to try this :^) Question - is it best to put your containers where they get direct sun, or is it better to put them in a sheltered area? Also wondering about the winds - do you have any tips on how to secure the containers should the wind come up while you aren't home or during the night?

Marj


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Hi Marj!

I think in our climate, it's best to put the containers in a spot where they get morning sun/afternoon shade, so that they don't dry out too quickly, or fry the sprouts if you aren't home to open the container up on a hot day.

My containers are on the east side of my home, which is the least windy spot here. I haven't had any trouble with the milk jugs, but I have chased a few 2L bottles around the yard. The solution I came up with was putting the bottles inside empty milk crates. That also helped get them off the ground, which helps with drainage when it rains (not that we have to worry about that too much here).

Hope you'll stop by and give us updates once you get started!

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Bonnie, thanks for the lovely pics and advice, I have yet to obtain lettuce seeds and it sure doesn't feel like winter anymore with temps in the 60s the last couple of days and forecast to go into the 70s all week. Anyways I managed to add on over the last week

Aster - Liliput Blue Moon
Verbena Bonariensis
Candytuft
Scabiosa
Pansies
Pyrethrum - these germinated last year in the horrible potting mix but I am afraid that they may not have survived the winter in the ground so decided to sow more just in case.

BTW I checked my jugs early this morning ( it was so warm out!) and I have sprouts in the Liatris jug already!! I was jumping up and down like a crazed hobbit! and I may have pretended that I saw a tiny nub from a coreopsis seed as well. So exciting, I hope to keep them alive until I get them in the ground.

This may be a silly question, well I was thinking if it was possible to sow seeds directly into pots outside now and cover them with a clear plastic sheet? I didn't start hoarding milk jugs early enough this year and was thinking of sowing container annuals like petunias, phloxes, dichondra and lobelias directly into their pots. I am also trying to short-cut my way through transplanting. Anyone tried this before and were you successful?


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RE: Wintersowing '12

I did try something similar last year with some of my pots on the porch to try and save time transplanting ... guess I'm becoming a lazy gardener. Probably won't do it this time though, because once you lift up the plastic to check on, or water the pot, then it is difficult to reattach. Once the winds get a hold of any loose edge, it just rips it, or beats your sprouts to death. What you are describing might work better though, if it is one thick sheet of plastic covering several containers. I just used Saran Wrap and shipping tape, because it's what I had on hand. Oh, be sure to poke a few air holes in the plastic, so you don't fry your seeds/sprouts, and rain/snow is able to get in.

Also, if you are running short on containers, try your local Starbuck's or other coffee shop. They go through tons of gallon jugs of milk a day, and usually don't mind giving the empties away. Last year, I asked for folks at my daughter's preschool to bring their empty milk/water jugs for me, and ended up with more than I could use. I won't go so far as to recommend taking them out of neighbor's recycle bins though, since I've heard some states consider that stealing, and wouldn't want to be the cause of your imprisonment, LOL!

I sowed the following today:

California Poppy, White
California Poppy, Apricot Chiffon
California Poppy, Fire Bush
Petunia, Prism Sunshine
Petunia, Picobella Red
Petunia, Key Lime Parfait

Next up is the tomatoes.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

  • Posted by skybird z5, Denver, CO (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 12, 12 at 20:38

I've done winter sowing twice now, Alice, and I've tried two different ways that are way different from the "usual" gallon jug method! Here are a few observations on what I've tried so far!

The first year, '08/'09, I wanted to try it but had very few jugs and nothing to keep jugs in (i.e. crates) to keep them from blowing around so I decided to use some plastic flats I had and cover the whole shebang with plastic. This actually worked pretty well at first. I sowed the seeds in "patches" or in rows in the flats, bottom watered them to saturate them, and stuck them all together on the end of the house--east end, a little sun but mostly shade at that time of the year. I covered the whole thing with a thin plastic drop cloth that I left folded so it was 4 (I think) layers thick. In the beginning I was able to just tuck the edges of the plastic (securely) under the edges of the flats.

Some of the seedlings started to come up almost immediately, and after I regained consciousness I needed to figure out how to get the plastic up high enough to give the seedlings room to grow! I meditated on the issue for a day and finally decided to raise the plastic up by putting inverted gallon pots around the flats and pulling the plastic over them, but the plastic hung way down in the middle so I wound up adding a piece of hardware cloth laid over the gallon pots to support the plastic evenly. With the plastic being higher up off of the ground, wind became a definite problem and at this point I weighted the edges of the plastic down with bricks and boards both on the edges and up on top of some of the pots. It's not shown in this pic, but I also laid a couple short pieces of rebar across the top of the plastic to keep the center of it from whoomping out!

At this point I was quite happy with the whole project! When the sun was out I was easily able to roll the sides/ends up for ventilation, and I was able to easily "tip" the whole top up for access to the plants--since even I am not short enough to have gotten into my Micro Greenhouse!

Then, however, came the PROBLEM! I HATE transplanting! I had "clumps" of tiny seedlings--and just didn't want to deal with it! I did take the time to pull some of them apart and put them in separate pots to get big enough to plant in the ground, but most of them were left to "go to pot" (so to speak!) all by themselves! And in the end many of them wound up on the compost pile! It's not quite as bad as it sounds because much of the seed I had used was REALLY old seed, and I had sown a LOT of it on the assumption that very little, if any, of it would actually come up! So I had WAY, WAY, WAY more seedlings than I ever dreamed I'd get, and even if I had been able to force myself to transplant more of them, I didn't have anywhere to plant them anyway!

Overall the experiment went quite well, IMO, but, given my aversion to transplanting, I resolved to try something new the next time I did it!

This past winter, '10/'11, I tried this! I watched for translucent storage containers that were on sale and bought some different ones, all with as large a "footprint" as I could find. Some were very shallow, only 6-7" deep and some were very deep, like about 18". Then I planted my seeds in styrofoam coffee cups, just enough seeds in each pot for "one plant." I saturated the soil and put all the cups in two of the shallow containers--wound up with almost 70 pots/plants. I put the lids on and put them outside where they got no sun at all. When it was cold or snowing I left the lids on, and when it was warm out I took off the lids and either laid them crosswise over the container or removed them completely, depending on the temps. Again things started coming up pretty quickly, but there was enough head room even in the shallow containers that it was no problem! after a while the pots did need to be individually watered, mostly depending on what had or had not started growing.

This system Is the Winner as far as I'm concerned! As the plants got big enough and the weather warmed enough, I just took out those that didn't need the extra protection anymore and left the others in the containers to germinate or grow more. AND, best of all, I had NO transplanting to do! When the plants were big enough to be planted in the ground, I knocked them out of their pots and stuck them where they were going to live! I wish I had pics to post---actually, I do, but they're still in the camera! I never got anything downloaded into my Mac after I got it, and it's a good thing I didn't, 'cause I would have lost it all when my hard drive crashed last September anyway! So I'm almost two years behind on making my pictures "useable!" Some day!

If the pots you're planning to use are small enough, you might want to try putting the whole pot(s) into storage containers until they get going. But, one word of caution! If you're planning to use LARGE pots, it can be VERY difficult to control moisture when you're dealing with tiny seedlings in a large volume of soil. If they germinate and then stay too wet for too long they could very possibly lay down and die on you! So if it's big pots you're thinking of, you might want to start individual plants in small individual pots and then just stick them in the big pots when they're ready.

I am still real seriously planning to do some "winter" sowing myself yet this year--but--WINTER seems to be a distant memory around here right now, and "spring" was just a passing mirage! We seem to have found ourselves right in the middle of summer--for now at least! When I do, soon, get my stuff planted, it's going to go out in the COLDEST part of the yard that I can find!

Skybird


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RE: Wintersowing '12

My first sprouts are up. Red Winter kale. Dratted rabbits ate all of them last year. I have learned. The plants will be more protected this time.

mstywoods,
I use the gallon milk jugs and put them into milk crates to keep them secure from wind, critters, etc. Works pretty well. Four jugs fit into one crate.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

The cut and come again greens are showing green in there mini greenhouse. Some seeds of a mixed cut garden are also up.

I love the 2 liter clear soda bottles. We use Club Soda no pop or milk jugs so the 2 liter work fine. They fit in a create we got at a garage sale.

No transplanting is the beauty of the WS Skybird, well at least one of the beauties: perfect germination, correct moisture maintenance, little to no hardening off just to name a few more. My grandmother always did say God is smarter then we are. This method lets the climate dictate many of these variables. So if you have not tried it, it is not too late.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Skybird brought up some good ideas for you, Alice. That's the thing about wintersowing. It's very adaptable, meant to inexpensive, and make use of whatever you have on hand.

Forgot to mention it, but I have been invited to do another wintersowing presentation next week at a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. This will be my third time, not counting doing it at my children's preschool. It should be fun, and less intimidating than doing it at the Colorado Farm Show.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Got the tomatoes sown today. Did it a little different this time. In the past, I usually did the tomatoes in 1L bottles, or styrofoam cups, and put them in a milk crate. Didn't have enough of those things today, and didn't want to waste a lot of potting mix, so I took milk/water jugs and divided them in two with a piece of cardboard. Wrote on each side what was sown, watered them, and out the door they went.

Photobucket

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I sowed at least 3 seeds of each kind, and will probably sow a few indoors as back-ups, but I'm hoping with the warm, dry weather we're having this spring, that those won't be necessary, and I can just pass them on to someone else later.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

I haven't wintersowed in two years so I am a little rusty. It seems late but it doesn't hurt to ask: What do I still have time to sow?
I'm in the south Denver suburbs, zone 5.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Azura, I don't think it's too late at all to wintersow, unless you are sowing perennials that need cold stratification to germinate. If you are sowing tender annuals, such as marigolds, cosmos, nasturtiums, zinnias, etc., you could even hold out a couple more weeks. If you are sowing cold season veggies, such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, etc., I would do it as soon as possible, so that they can be planted out before the weather gets too hot for them. Now is the perfect time to start things, such as peas, carrots, radishes, and tomatoes. Most herbs can be done anytime now too, though I usually hold off on basil until April, since it's so frost sensitive.

Hope this helps some.

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

That absolutely helps and more than some, thank you Bonnie! I've missed your cheery advice and consistent updates :)


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Thanks for the advice and show n tell skybird. Individual "cups" in a larger container was something I had considered but I couldn't find a storage container to sacrifice. I know, I know I can go and get one or 2 but I have an aversion to acquiring things LOL! probably conditioned from cramp living in NYC and having to move just about every year put me off to acquiring stuff that I don't need and needless to say I had issues "collecting" milk jugs too! In addition to that I also have a problem "thinning" out the seedlings and I feel bad doing that. Anyways I took this to another level and made little paper pots from the stacks of paper in my studio waiting to be shredded and 4 of these fit nicely into a milk jug! ( from letter sized paper ) Hah! we shall see if they fall apart in a couple of months time.
Bonnie - I have yet to get more seeds into either planters or milk jugs yet but hope to this coming weekend and I agree that my concern was how to keep the the wind from blowing the plastic sheet or whatever that I need to figure out. We don't have any trees, just open fields so we are open to the elements and I've actually had to weight down a couple of tall planters with rocks or they'll just topple over even when filled with dirt! Well this will certainly give me something to think about. BTW I have everything sprouting except for the Pansies and Foxglove, Yippeee! I just hope now that I can keep the sprouts alive.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

No I'm not using my SUV as a greenhouse, LOL! I'm loading up the car for my wintersowing talk at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).

Photobucket

Trying to make it as foolproof as possible:

Photobucket

I'll be back to let you know how it went.

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Bonnie - thank you for posting the instructions. Although I'm not in preschool any longer, these helpful easy to understand tips are right up my alley!!!

Skybird - thank you for your wonderful ideas and descriptions of the methods you tried and found successful. I really like your idea of no separately seedlings and transplanting to larger pots!!!

Great info from both of you - thanks!

:^)
Marj


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RE: Wintersowing '12

You're welcome, Marj! BTW, the presentation wasn't for preschoolers, it was for their moms : ) Not sure how much interest there really was in the topic, but you never know, maybe one or two will try it.

Here's a picture of some Flame Lettuce babies:

Lettuce sprouts 3-21-12

All five containers of lettuce have sprouts now, and both types of Gaillardia. Hoping to see more green soon!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Hello Ladies,
I hope you don�t mind me joining in on your group. I am a very VERY newbie gardener. I live in Twin Falls Idaho which is a zone 5/6. Last year I spent hundreds on landscaping and so this year I was hoping to save a little by staring some Petunias from seed. I went to BURPEE and ordered some seed and a starter kit that included the pellets and trays and watering mat and so forth. I planted the seeds indoors on February 25th. They quickly sprouted and so I uncovered them and placed them under a grow light. They have been doing very well until this last week when I noticed that the leaves are turning yellow and there is a fungus/mold growing on the soil. I am not sure but from the little that I have researched I am wondering if I have "damping off" (even though the BURPEE "starter kit" said it would take the guess work out of watering). I am still tending to the plants but I am assuming that soon they will succumb and fall over and die. So during my research about damping off I came across Winter Sowing and you gals. I am mainly interested in Petunias, is it too late to do some winter sowing of these flowers/seeds? I would like to do some Wave Petunias. I need enough for 6 hanging baskets and 2 flower beds about 4x12 total area. Do any of you have any recommendations where I should get my seeds and how much I would need? Any thoughts or suggestions on my situation are welcomed!
Emilee


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RE: Wintersowing '12

This is my first year winter sowing. I, too, am not a big fan of transplanting, and the idea of transplanting chunks does not appeal to me too much. In my 2L bottles and other plastic containers, I placed toilet paper rolls in them and then covered them with potting mix. I placed two seeds in each in hopes that at least one will germinate. When the seedlings are ready to be planted in my garden, the roots won't be disturbed too much since they are protected in the roll. The rolls will break down in the soil eventually, too. Or you can tear them off when you transplant. Since this is my first time doing this, I'm just hopeful that what I write will work out. We'll see...


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Emilee, you may not have damping off yet, but the yellowing leaves and mold growing on the soil, means you are overwatering. Let the soil dry out in between waterings, and maybe use a fan to increase airflow around the plants, and you may be able to save them.

It's not too late to wintersow petunias though. For seeds, you could try Swallowtail Gardens, Summer Hill Seeds, or Harris Seeds. Can't really say how many packs you'll need, but if you check on the back of the package, it should say how wide the plants will get. You may have to do a little math to calculate how many plants it will take to fill the space. I always plant more than I think I'll need, since you never know how many seeds will germinate, and survive being planted out.

Good Luck!

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

I was able to get a few more things sown today.

Getting organized

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Used the wheelbarrow to mix and wet the soil. Used a mixture of seed starting mix, potting mix, and perlite. Very happy with the result. It saved a lot of time too. Wish I had thought of this sooner!

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Here's how much I've gotten done so far.

Wintersown jugs as of 3-28-12

Sown today:

Peas, Super Sugar Snap
Peas, Burpeeana Early
Marjoram
Calendula, Bon Bon Yellow
Calendula, Pacific Beauty
Calendula, Red Splash
Gazania, Daybreak Orange Cream
Gazania, Gazoo Formula Mix
Gazania, Kiss The Sun Mix
Gazania, Talent Red
Nicotiana, Baby Bella Antique Red
Nicotiana, Chocolate
Foxglove, light yellow
Coreopsis, Zagreb
Crocosmia, Lucifer (Skybird, these were your seeds, thanks!)

I'll wait a couple more weeks on the really tender stuff, such as Basil, Portulaca, and Strawflower.

Oh, and the Lemon Balm and California poppies have all sprouted now : )

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

  • Posted by skybird z5, Denver, CO (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 28, 12 at 17:10

Well I FINALLY got around to doing some seed a couple days ago! Finally! But with temps in the mid to upper 70's, I really don't think it qualifies a WINTER sowing anymore! I did 30 pots of various perennials that I have in one of the "boxes" outside, and another 25 of annuals, things like petunias, that I'm keeping inside so they'll be warm overnite too, to hopefully get a quicker start. A couple of the perennials I think might need stratification, so I'm not real sure they're gonna work this year!

I think the Crocosmia might need stratification too, Bonnie, so I'm not sure if that one will work this year unless you have temps overnite that are a lot colder than what we're getting down here right now. Whatever happened to that gallon size 'Lucifer' from Catladysgarden that I brought along for you the first year I stopped by there? That looked like a pretty decent plant--did it not make it? Do you know that Crocosmia is the Biggest Grasshopper Magnet I have in my yard, and if you do succeed in getting the seed to germinate, you're going to need to do some serious protecting or it's just gonna be gobbled up!

With all this warm weather I guess I should start my tomatoes and basil too, but I just KNOW I'm gonna regret it when we get a BLIZZARD in May and I don't have anywhere inside to keep them! Ahhh, the Sweet Joys of gardening!

Skybird


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Oh, NOW you tell me about the Crocosmia being a grasshopper magnet! LOL, that's why I'm wintersowing more, they hit it hard a couple of years in a row, so it's not exactly thriving. Not even sure if it will come back again.

On a happier note, my Semaspore grasshopper bait arrived yesterday. More than enough to do my yard, and the empty lot next door, and maybe even down at the community garden.

As far as cold stratification goes, our lows for the next 7 days are predicted to be between 25 - 33 degrees, which should still be cold enough for the perennials to germinate. Remember, over here in the high desert we are usually colder in the winter, and hotter in the summer.

Glad to here that you did some wintersowing, even if it is already spring : )


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RE: Wintersowing '12

  • Posted by skybird z5, Denver, CO (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 28, 12 at 18:33

LOL! Sorry 'bout that, Bonnie! I thought I had posted that around here somewhere once or twice, but maybe I just talked about it with people at the swaps or with some of the folks I was with at other times.

The NICE thing about the Crocosmia Magnet--if you can call it "nice," is that when I wanted to kill the grasshoppers in my yard I'd just take a can of my "flying insect killer" from in the house and thoroughly "fumigate" the Crocosmia with it! Since at least 90% of the grasshoppers in my yard were always on the 'Lucifer" it was a good way to get rid of a lot of them at the same time! A "lot," of course, is relative, and being in a city residential area I don't have anywhere near the numbers you have with all the "wild" land around you! I went thru The Numbers Game when I was down on the "country" lot just north of Parker, and for a couple summers it was like a Biblical Plague---and I'd swear I could have put a saddle on a couple of those Hoppers and ridden 'em! Up here "in the city" at least I'm dealing with them in the dozens and not in the Hundreds!

But, just for your and others' info, here's what I figured out with my Observations last summer! The hoppers seem to be most attracted to anything with "strap like" foliage--so Iris, daylilies, and the like! They were all pretty well chewed up by the end of summer last year, but the Crocosmia was Totally Catastrophized! After I sprayed the Crocosmia I always went around to the other things to check them and spray them too, and I'd get close to 100% of my hoppers by doing that. At least figuring out where to look for them helped me to Delete as many as possible!

I really hope your new bait helps you! I can't even imagine trying to garden with the numbers you have out there! (And you might want to pick up a couple cans of cheap household insect spray to use in the "magnet areas" like I've been able to pretty successfully do.)

Skybird


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RE: Wintersowing '12

The latest news, my Salvia turkistanica has sprouted!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

How is this for absolutely insane "winter" sowing results!

I sowed the seeds I was talking about above late in the day on the 26th. They were sown in "moist" soil, but since I finished so late in the day I didn't get around to saturating the pots, so I just put them all in two of my big flat storage containers and put the lids on. I was busy on the 27th and left them still just sitting in the boxes, figuring since they were never really watered well the seeds wouldn't germinate so they'd be fine another day. Yesterday, on the 28th, late in the day I started sitting the pots in a big tray of water to saturate them. When I picked up two of the pots I THOUGHT I saw a little bit of green in them, but the sun was going down so I assumed I was imagining it! NOT! Today I looked at them closely, and, lo and behold, 3 seeds in two of the pots have already germinated and are visible--barely, but definitely they're there! I still can hardly believe it! They're both Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy' which is one of the marginally hardy black eyed Susans. Incredible! The soil was just BARELY damp, and I just barely cover the seeds--and by the time I watered them yesterday the surface was pretty much completely dry!

Sorry to ramble on---but I really can't believe this! Maybe I'm hallucinating!!!

Looking for a shrink,
Skybird


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Wow, Skybird, I don't think I've ever had germination that quickly, not even lettuce, LOL! Congratulations! It's always exciting to see those first sprouts.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Finding new sprouts makes my day!
Got some more yesterday. Amaranth Hot Biscuits.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Skybird, the Baby Sun coreopsis seeds you gave me at the last swap have sprouted! I am so pleased!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

This afternoon, I decided to check on my jugs, since we had 50 mph winds yesterday, and a low in the mid 20's. I could hardly believe it when I found not one, but TWO tomato sprouts!!! The last time I had wintersown tomatoes sprout this early was in 2008, which by the way was one of the best tomato years I've ever had! Hope I'm not getting too optimistic, but after the horrible tomato year I had last year, when the first one didn't sprout until the second week of May, I'm just excited and hopeful.

... and the winners are Rainy's Maltese and Tasmanian Chocolate.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Glad to hear they're germinating for you, Kat! Not likely you'll get any flowers this year, but by next year you should have a nice plant(s) and lots of pretty flowers! Enjoy!

I'm trying Rainy's this year too, Bonnie! Got some seed from Digit. Uhhh! Guess I better get my seeds in some soil or methinks I'm not gonna get any tomatoes! :-) But I start my tomatoes strictly inside!

Revisiting the Rudbeckia seed I thought germinated in three days! A couple days later when I didn't see any "action" I looked more closely--with a magnifying glass--and the green I was seeing was the seeds! I've never seen this before, but the seeds, which were only partially covered, had turned green! So I wasn't actually looking at "plants" at that point yet---but three days after I posted above, the "green" WAS a plant, so it was still only six days for them to germinate and be visible, and two of those days were in mostly dry soil. It still doesn't make much sense to me, but it makes more sense than having them come up in just three days!

I have several other things up already too. A couple kinds of Celosia, Clarkia, another variety of Rudbeckia hirta, Schizanthus, Torenia, and some teensy, tiny Petunias! I can never believe how tiny those things are when they come up! Still have a bunch more to sow, but I don't think there's any way at all I can call it Winter Sowing anymore! But whatever it's called, it's still nice to just leave it outside all the time where I only have to uncover it during the day, and not have to bother with carrying it in and out and in and out every day!

Skybird


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Glad to hear they're germinating for you, Kat! Not likely you'll get any flowers this year, but by next year you should have a nice plant(s) and lots of pretty flowers! Enjoy!

I'm trying Rainy's this year too, Bonnie! Got some seed from Digit. Uhhh! Guess I better get my seeds in some soil or methinks I'm not gonna get any tomatoes! :-) But I start my tomatoes strictly inside!

Revisiting the Rudbeckia seed I thought germinated in three days! A couple days later when I didn't see any "action" I looked more closely--with a magnifying glass--and the green I was seeing was the seeds! I've never seen this before, but the seeds, which were only partially covered, had turned green! So I wasn't actually looking at "plants" at that point yet---but three days after I posted above, the "green" WAS a plant, so it was still only six days for them to germinate and be visible, and two of those days were in mostly dry soil. It still doesn't make much sense to me, but it makes more sense than having them come up in just three days!

I have several other things up already too. A couple kinds of Celosia, Clarkia, another variety of Rudbeckia hirta, Schizanthus, Torenia, and some teensy, tiny Petunias! I can never believe how tiny those things are when they come up! Still have a bunch more to sow, but I don't think there's any way at all I can call it Winter Sowing anymore! But whatever it's called, it's still nice to just leave it outside all the time where I only have to uncover it during the day, and not have to bother with carrying it in and out and in and out every day!

Skybird


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Now that I have seedlings already in my containers…pray tell when do I start fertilizing!?? Most already are growing their 2nd set of true leaves. Help!!

Also I finally got some lettuce seeds sowed about 2 weeks ago and 2 days later I had some germination! very impressive and I am a BELIEVER.
This pic was taken just this morning

I also sowed another chunk in a transparent type of container and I noticed the germination was slower - had visible germination 2 days later. Interesting since I thought that it allowed more sunlight, germination would be faster and better but doesn't seem so in this case. I wonder that the opaqueness of the milk jugs seems to be the better condition for the seeds?

That same weekend I also managed to get my act together and sow some annuals directly into pots and this is what I did. I used clothes pegs to hold plastic sheets - cut up from Lowes transparent large bags they use to hold busted bags of product. Originally I had thought of using some heavy duty plastic sheeting but as I was about to chuck the Lowes bags in the trash I thought what if I…..

Seems like the pegs have managed to keep the plastic sheet intact during some wind blasts and survived being pummelled by bits of hail a couple of days ago anyways so far so good.

Well I just checked the pots this morning and to my surprise I have 1 pot of Zinnia's germinating! - so I suppose the challenge now is to keep it alive until it's grown big and basically growing. Skybird did bring up a very good point of the challenge of trying to keep the large pots moisture in check…so far in the 2 weeks, I've only bottom watered them once and misted the top about every 3 days and so the experiment is still going.

Simne - your idea using TP rolls is actually really great. This is what I did this time - see pic. I made little paper pots and they are holding up well so far but from the look of it I will still be doing some transplanting because I was chronically worried that 1 or 2 seeds wouldn't germinate so I put in 4-5 in each paper pot.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Nice pictures, Alice! Also, love the ingenuity of using the Lowe's bags and clothes pins. You are a true wintersower now : )

I never worry about fertilizing my wintersown sprouts. The potting mix usually has enough nutrients to keep them happy until they get planted out. If I have any containers still out there in the summer, I will put a little fish emulsion or seaweed extract in the watering can every couple of weeks ... if I think about it. Guess you could say I'm a tough love gardener, LOL!

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Bonnie, I used Jiffy seed starter mix which I don't think has any sort of fertilizer? For my second batch, I actually mixed about half and half of seed starter and potting mix as I was running out of seed starter so I guess those should be ok. Thanks to all of you here, I wouldn't have known that you could be sowing seeds outside in winter! I am very grateful also for all your kind advice. Thank you everybody!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Alice, that's what I do too, mix potting mix with seed starter mix. The seed starter by itself seems to dry out too fast for me outdoors, but the potting mix sometimes holds too much water, but like Goldilocks, I can get it just right if I mix the two, LOL!

As far as opaque vs. clear containers with regard to germination rates, I wonder if it depends on the type of seed. I know some seed packets will say not to cover with soil, that light aids germination. Then on others, it will say the exact opposite. I guess if you wanted to spend the time to research each type of seed before you sow them, you could put all of the ones that want light for germination into the clear containers, and the others in the milk jugs. Just a thought : )

Today I sowed:

Basil, Mrs. Burn's Lemon
Basil, Lime
Basil, Red Rubin
Basil, Super Sweet Chen
German Chamomile
Lemon Grass
Thai Red Roselle
Okra, Red Burgundy (yeah, I know, I really should start this one inside, but my peppers are using all available space there)
African Daisy Mix
Helenium autumnale
Scabiosa, Ace of Spades
Strawflower, Monstrosum Fireball
Strawflower, Tall Double Orange
Strawflower, White & Yellow Mix
Strawflower, Earthtones Mix

Here are my containers as of today.

Winter/spring sown containers as of 4-14-12

I'm up to a total of 54, but I only have a few things left to sow. Don't think I'll reach the 100 mark this year.

Bonnie


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RE: Wintersowing '12

  • Posted by skybird z5, Denver, CO (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 20:35

Yes, some seeds do definitely need light to germinate, and some need complete darkness. Here's a link to the Tom Clothier site where you can quickly look up any special requirements for many different seeds. This is a really excellent site, with a LOT more info than just about germination, but my own personal caveat for the germination info is that sometimes I think he gets way too detailed with the directions--almost enough to scare you away from even trying some things. When I have questions I check it for the basic info about temps, stratification, and times, and then often plant the seeds pretty much like I do everything and wait to see what happens! And cold stratification pretty much becomes a moot point when you're winter sowing since it happens the Natural Way! The site is really good in terms of letting you know which seeds are "slow" and/or "irregular" germinators--so you know ahead of time if you might need to wait a year or two to see any action! Also very good to find out what needs light or dark. Things that need dark are usually covered with soil deeply enough to exclude all light--the opaque sides of a jug would not be sufficiently dark for those seeds that do truly need "dark."

Click on the "green thumb" by whichever database you're interested in, and you might want to check down the list of other available topics too for some really good advice.

If you're looking for a little humor, check out the "Three unusual fruits & vegetables" section! I especially like his potential "statuary" use for the first one! (Also found some pretty humorous stuff on the "mole hill" section!)

I finished sowing the rest of my seeds for this year about a week ago--some are staying inside and some are staying outside! The basil is inside and the first one is poking its head up today! Already carrying a bunch of stuff in an out every day, and soon there will be more!

For a "snowy" day in Denver, it sure was a nice, sunny day today!

Skybird

Here is a link that might be useful: Tom Clothier's Garden Walk and Talk


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RE: Wintersowing '12

  • Posted by sister_k Zone 5 Lafayette, CO (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 15, 12 at 18:56

Hi All! Thought I'd share my progress on wintersowing, though it was also a little more like spring-sowing. I didn't plant ANYTHING until around March 25th, I think... Anyway, most of the following are my harvested seeds - Morning Glories, Four O'Clocks, Cosmos, Portulaca, some Pink Mums and I also took some petunia baskets that I just took the dead plants and sprinkled them over the new soil to see what might happen.

I have settled on using salad containers, having tried some other things over the last few years. At first, I didn't like the thought of the hunk o' seedlings and did a system with individual dixie cups inside those foil/clear top lasagna pans from the grocery store. This was pretty neat and pretty low maintenance, but after the first year, I came around to relish the hunk o' seedlings method. Especially with tons of harvested seeds, and volunteers popping up in pots year after year, it's easy!

Last year, I also just started watering some of the previous year's pots, and covered them in saran wrap with duct tape around the edges, with some air holes poked in. It's worked pretty well to protect them til they get going, but the wind can pull the plastic up and you have to deal with trying to water through the airholes. The salad containers work well (I use the utility knife to cut triangles in the top you can bend down, and cut out 4+ drainage holes at bottom), but the berry containers usually have too many holes unless you tape some up.

Anyway, I do lettuce, basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro from seed (along with the flowers), but get my rosemary, lavender, and some others as small plants as I never had too much luck on those from seed and I always want to start cooking with them soon as possible! Okay, since I'm posting pictures today after a long hiatus from Gardenweb, here goes with some pics!

The basic set-up (though more containers are scattered on the floor):

Portulaca (harvested):

Cosmos (harvested) - they are running out of room already, which does show why some salad containers, i.e. taller ones, are better than others at this:

4 O'Clocks (harvested) and MGs which come up everywhere:

Planted MGs (harvested):

Random Various Pink Mums (harvested):

Anyway, I posted some pics over on Who's Here thread from last summer with most of these above usual suspects. They seem to do well enough in this location, so I'm sticking with what works. Every year I tell myself I'm going to stick with these basics but then I go to the plant store and get carried away with new seeds and other things. I have some more things out there, but these seemed the most impressive. -- Sister


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Skybird! Thanks for that link - so very useful and I feel better knowing that the platycodon seeds are still staring at me because they may take a while! They're the only ones not sprouted yet and were the first batch I sowed back in February. Anyways talking about light and sprouts in my last post, I was comparing the 2 types of containers I used and how fast one sprouted AND grew compared to the other. These are mesclun mix salad seeds sown at the same time. I just took pics today - have a look

These were sown in the milk jug and started sprouting earlier than the pic at the bottom. Germination I noticed started 2 days earlier but look how much more has grown/sprouted since then compared to the one sown in the other container. I just cut the tops off this jug yesterday evening

Check out the difference! This was sown in a clear salad container. Some seeds are still germinating but the sprouts seem to take longer to grow compared to the ones in the milk jug.

The containers are placed in an East facing area and receive a good 8 hrs of sun.

Sister - I see that you use the clear transparent containers, are they mostly in shade? I wonder if the transparent containers allow too much light and too bright of a condition for where the jugs are placed. Any thoughts?

BTW - I have visible sprouts in all the plastic wrapped pegged planters. The zinnias are starting to put on their first set of true leaves. The clothes pegs have also been really great at holding up to the fantastic winds we have and like today being a little bit hot, I just rolled up a section of the plastic and pegged so it won't blow around for a wee bit of ventilation. So far so good...and I am tickled pink and pleased as punch!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

More sprouts!

Platycodon
Coreopsis
Gloriosa daisy
Euphorbia

I gave up on my Echinacea and Celosia. Will try the echs again next year as I know a location to collect seed.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

  • Posted by sister_k Zone 5 Lafayette, CO (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 26, 12 at 10:04

Hi sugaralice - Mine are placed on the edge of a balcony that faces east, such that they really only get sun from sunrise until about 1:00 pm. I did mine in milk containers the first year and just didn't find myself loving the format for a few reasons and found the salad containers easier for me. However, it would be interesting to do an experiment next year to compare, after seeing your pictures. Although it could make more of a difference with the full sun. I thought mine were doing pretty well, since I planted SO late. I just planted a round of sprouts out (containers only) and they are doing great now, and then I re-sowed in the containers a few new things for this year. I just threw some mesclun mix in bowls with no plastic cover and they are so wimpy, it looks like they will never make me a salad. I should have wintersowed them!


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RE: Wintersowing '12

It's been so warm and dry lately, that I've been wondering how I'm going to get everything planted out before the serious summer heat arrives. Yesterday was overcast, and there was rain in the forecast today, so I have been a busy bee!

Yesterday, I moved around some self sown perennials to fill some empty spots, and today in addition to digging grass out of the main flower bed and cutting the front yard, I planted out the lettuces, and peas, and a couple of varieties of poppies. Had one more jug of poppies that I had hoped to get done, but the rain arrived before I could finish.

Burpeeana Early, and Super Sugar Snap Peas:

Peas 4-26-12

Lettuces - As you can see I don't bother to separate the tiny seedlings. It's grab a hunk-o-seedlings, plunk it in the dirt, water it in, and let them fight it out.

Flame Lettuce 4-26-12

This one had to be divided into two HOS to fit on either side of the irrigation tubing.

Simpson Elite Lettuce 4-26-12

Four Seasons  Lettuce 4-26-12

Thai Green Lettuce 4-26-12

Rouge de Grenoblouse Lettuce 4-26-12

My 5 year old daughter was my helper today, and we put the leftover sprouts in "her" pots on the porch. Here is her Pots O' Lettuce:

Pots O' Lettuce 4-26-12

Also planted out today were California poppy - white, and California poppy 'Firebush'.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Bonnie, your lettuces look great! and I didn't realize they can be planted out that small. I guess mine needs to be busted out of the milk jug. Maybe this weekend.

Sister, I do prefer the salad containers for ease of sowing seeds and I can open the top flaps on hot days but I noticed I had poor germination last year in them as well - although I had awful potting soil and thought that was the problem but now I am wondering.

Kat, isn't it exciting to see sprouts?! When did you sow your platycodons? my seeds are still staring back at me.

Hopefully I can sow a few more containers of annuals and herbs this weekend.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Alice, some years the lettuce is a little further along when I plant it out, but the bottom of the jugs were filled with roots, so they were more than ready to stretch their legs. Besides, we've had so little rain, or even cloud cover this spring, that I had to take advantage of the weather. I learned my first couple years of wintersowing that sprouts planted out once the moisture is gone for the season, and the temps are mid 80's or higher, just don't have as high a success rate, as those planted out earlier. I usually save a few of the top halves of the jugs to use as cloches in case we get a late frost, and the sprouts need protection.


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RE: Wintersowing '12

Sowed 15 containers today. Well, actually it was 16 things, but I had to double up on the last container. I think that is pretty much the last winter/spring sowing for me this year. Everything else, such as cucumbers, melons,pumpkins, and beans, will all be direct sown soon.

Here's what was sown:

Black Cumin
Cilantro
Basil, Fine Verde
Summer Savory
Parsley, Big Italy
Parsley, Extra Curled Dwarf
Dill
Lemon Catmint
Black Eyed Susan Vine
Nasturtium, Tip Top Apricot
Nasturtium, Copper Sunset
Marigold, Lemon Gem
Zinnia, Zahara Bonfire

Portulaca, Happy Hour Red
Portulaca, Happy Hour Lemon

These last two containers probably won't germinate. My 5 year old daughter was helping me sow the seeds, which she did very carefully, but then as she was walking across the backyard to put those two jugs on the patio, she tripped and the contents went flying. I don't have any more seeds or I would resow, and they are so tiny that even though I put the dirt back in the jug, the seeds are probably buried too far to germinate. A small price to pay for being able to pass on my love of gardening to the next generation!


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