Winter Sowing to the Rescue!
I remember when I first started gardening. As I recall, I went to the hardware store and bought three packets of seeds which I planted that afternoon. I’m not sure how I followed my lust for seeds until today when my saved and leftover seeds now require two shoe boxes….and that’s after I gave away many many seeds. So I look at all those seeds…and the envelopes of newly arrived seeds I’ve gotten in the mail…and wonder how I’ll ever have enough room on windowsills one plant rack to get all those exquisite young plants going.
Winter Sowing of course! As fun as it is to germinate seeds on the heat mat that creates new plants in a few days, that’s not very practical when it could be another three months until the soil is warm enough that it isn’t freezing at night. I learned Winter Sowing back in the early days of the internet….and it is still the most effective method for starting winter seeds.
The basic idea is you have plastic containers (I used water jugs). You cut them in half. Put some soil in. Label the name of the seed. Water the soil. Sow the seed. Tape the container closed. Move the entire container OUTSIDE to the north side of the house where it’s protected from the wind. And that’s it. Now as the season warms, Nature will cause them to germinate at the right time when the temperatures are best suited for the seeds. Monthly watering is all the maintenance that this needs….and of course planting out all those seedlings when the time is ready.
The phrase Winter Sowing was coined by our hero, Trudi Davidoff. For years she has tirelessly gathered info and shared her wisdom on Garden Web, then her own website http://www.wintersown.org, then Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/102675420505/ There really isn’t much more to doing winter sowing than I’ve said….but there are dozens of web pages via her website and Facebook and Google, so enjoy learning.
You know all those seed failures you’ve had in the past? Probably won’t happen with Winter Sowing. Seeds that need to be chilled get chilled. Seeds that need a long time to germinate can sit there till they are ready. No leggy plants because they are outside in the bright light. You’ll need to water every month or so….but that’s all you need to get 100s of plants going. One plant I still start indoors is tomato because I want my tomato plants big sooner in my short season. But otherwise….there is no end to what seeds you can try. The biggest challenge will be getting them transplanted to the garden.