Are You Tired of this Weather Yet? Plant Seeds All Winter Long!
By Missy Sanford, Master Gardener
Are you stir crazy this week and itching to dig in the garden? Try the Winter Sowing method created by Trudi Davidoff. It’s a way of planting seeds in tiny greenhouses outside during the winter months in preparation for the great spring plant up. The idea is that Mother Nature tells seeds when to emerge, and you don’t have the issues of damping off and having to harden off plants.
Plant seeds all winter long without taking up room inside and with better success at healthy seedlings!
It’s so easy to do and inexpensive. Collect containers such as gallon milk jugs (cut in half like a Pez dispenser), rotisserie chicken containers, aluminum cake pans with clear lids. These make the greenhouses. Make holes in top and bottom for drainage and transpiration, then fill with potting mix, composted soil, whatever you use for planting, and plant your seed. Water, tape shut, label and set outside immediately. Then leave it alone. Rain will water it naturally. They might need watered if you have an extremely dry period but that is usually unlikely. The worst problem I have is wind blowing them over, labels fading and keeping dogs out, out, out!
When I tried planting under grow lights, I would plant seeds and only a few would make it to the garden. Imagine if you planted the same way and 90% made it to the garden. I know, I thought the same thing. But it really works and it’s addicting!
So while most people are drooling over seed catalogs, I’m planting. Cool weather crops like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage in my containers have emerged. So far this year I’ve completed at least 40 containers. I am planting most of my garden vegetables, perennials and annuals. The biggest challenge is getting them transplanted in the spring before it gets too hot.
To find out more, check out Trudi’s website at wintersown.org. There is a huge following of gardeners putting this method into practice for nearly a decade at the GardenWeb Winter Sowing Forum. You can ask all your questions and find out what others around the world are planting. See pictures from people all over the country who are using this method, and master gardeners are teaching the system.
View this video for how to turn a plastic milk jug into a greenhouse.
Everything you need to know about Winter Sowing and more here.