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Taking a stab at winter sowing

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Project by erika posted 11-05-2010 09:15 AM 4852 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From February to May, my kitchen looked a mess. Egg cartons, wrapped in Saran Wrap, contained seeds and used up all the space on the kitchen table. We ate at the island. While all that worked, I’m not looking to go through it again. Besides, I now have several potted herbs as well as a dozen small pots of geranium cuttings on the kitchen table already. That’s taking up a lot of room. If all goes well, I’ll have fresh herbs all winter and two dozen geraniums to plant in the spring. (Cuttings generally get big and leggy and have to be split again.)

I am in the process of saving the clear plastic boxes the lettuce comes in. Also, I am cutting plastic water bottles about 1/3 of the way from the bottom to make individual pots for seedlings.

So, I need your advice here. I have an unheated sun room. It gets lots of light. Can I winter sow in this room using the same method as you use for outdoor sowing? I’m not sure if it ever goes below 0 celcius but it gets cold. What are your thoughts?

The egg cartons are from last March. The others are some garden pictures from last summer. Nostalgia.

-- Erika, Hastings, ON



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erika

435 posts in 2596 days
hardiness zone 5a

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12 comments so far

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3811 posts in 3176 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 11:01 AM

I’m sorry I can’t give you some good advice re. using the sunroom. But my first thought would be…. when winter sowing containers of seeds outside, they receive moisture from the falling snow. How would that work if your containers were inside?

And the second consideration would be trying to keep a consistent temp. so that the containers do not freeze and thaw repeatedly as the room heats with the sun and freezes at night.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View erika's profile

erika

435 posts in 2596 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 11:25 AM

Hmmmm. I see your point, Iris. However, I thought they had to be covered anyway. Don’t you have to prevent rain and snow from entering the seedbed for fear of the seeds rotting? I though only air vents were to be drilled into the cover.

Wouldn’t you get the same greenhouse effect by direct sunlight on plastic containers?

Oh, I’m just lazy. I thought it would be so convenient if I could just do this in the sunroom rather than having to put on coat and boots. Mind you, once they’re placed outside you don’t have to do anything, do you?

-- Erika, Hastings, ON

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3177 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 11:26 AM

The idea of WS is to emulate what Mother Nature gives us, but in a more controlled situation. Hence they should be sown outdoors, in the pots ( which makes it advantageous for the gardener. )

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3811 posts in 3176 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 11:31 AM

My understanding is that the holes in top not only ventilate but also let in moisture from the snow. The excess moisture drains out through the holes in the bottom. Outside the snow covers the containers and insulate them from temp fluctuations. Last winter I put my containers on my back deck, actually in a shaded area until we had a good snow cover and then set them along the edge of the garden and shovelled snow over them. It appeared to have worked bc I had more seedlings than I could use.

Once they were set out I didn’t pay any attention to them until the snow melted in the spring.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View erika's profile

erika

435 posts in 2596 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 11:39 AM

OK jroot and Iris, I get it. Well it sounded like a good idea while it lasted.

I will put them outside in the snow. Drill holes top and bottom. BTW, when should I do this? What month?

-- Erika, Hastings, ON

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3811 posts in 3176 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 01:25 PM

Erika, I believe you can plant your container and set them outside anytime after we get consistently freezing temps. and snow. Dec., Jan., Feb…....I planted some of mine as late as Easter last spring. As long as the seeds have time to have a few weeks of cold for stratification. As jroot said, we try to emulate mother nature. ie. seeds dropped from mother plant and lay on the ground through winter, and start to grow when the temps begin to rise.

BTW, I love the pic of your different amaranthus. :)

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 3327 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-05-2010 07:19 PM

I waited till Jan. and Feb. last year Erika and they turned out great.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3547 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 11-06-2010 04:33 AM

and, yes, you put them outside and forget about them. So, it really isn’t much of an inconvenience to have them outdoors. You can put them someplace where they are “sight unseen” or place them in a very obvious place where you get lots of “what the heck are you doing with those jugs in your yard” comments. :)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 2580 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 11-06-2010 04:53 AM

And I thought gardening in extreme heat was hard, sounds like I’ve got easy…...

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 3327 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-06-2010 09:01 AM

David winter sowing isn’t a hard thing to do.It’s just a fun thing to do in the middle of winter when it’s too cold to do much else here.I really had fun doing this last year and it really helped some of those wintry days go by quickly.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View erika's profile

erika

435 posts in 2596 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 11-08-2010 09:39 AM

Thank you so much for all your responses. I thought you might be interested in this site, just in case you haven’t been introduced to it yet. *http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/wtrsow/* This is a real interesting site for many things including what you can use to create a mini greenhouse, what works, what doesn’t.

Hey guys, I can’t wait till January. I figure gardening begins when I start planting seeds.

Do you know of a list of seeds that are not suitable for winter seeding? So far, it looks like the most suitable ones are perennials. I’m not sure what a hardy annual is.

-- Erika, Hastings, ON

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3547 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 11-08-2010 09:54 AM

a good tip to go by is “if it will reseed itself in your climate “naturally” then it is a good candidate for winter sowing”

And with that, remember those plants that show up unexpectedly from the year before. For me, I’ll have the occasional lettuce plant grow, some tomatoes, and oh those squash – that you just can’t stop from coming back!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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