I first heard about his technique for starting seeds on a podcast. The couple giving the talk were homesteaders in Texas. They had extensive gardens and also sold plants. They propagated most of their seedlings using this method.
Listening to there podcast set off a light bulb in my head. It started the wheels in motion, so I committed to trying Winter Sowing. The commitment occurred last summer, and now it is the end of January. Yeah, I have followed through on my decision and am very anxious to see the results in a month or so. I am going to just lay out an abbreviated outline of where I am at now, as I am writing an article on the subject for The Kentucky Gardener. (That was another reason I felt I had to accomplish this goal)
#1 I began to recycle an unusual assortment of potential containers. Milk Jugs, Vinegar Jugs (of which I had many from my Herb Vinegar project), fresh greens containers, large fruit plastic containers, and liter beverage bottles all went in the pile.
#2 I decided to start with perennials since I have no greenhouse and have not had great luck with these from seed elsewhere. I do pretty good direct sowing annuals in the garden, but end up spending a fortune on purchasing new perennials.
#3 All summer I collected speed packets, buying some when they all seem to go on sale after the planning season rush. I will be more selective for the next Winter Sowing season. I have already started making a list.
#4 Here are some I am trying this season:
One can never have enough Parsley both the curly and the flat leaf( I need an abundance of these for my Spicebush Swallowtails to munch on).
Hollyhocks (I have not yet conquered this beauty, it always dies in my garden, but I am determined).
Butterfly Weed, (to add to my butterfly garden), plus some coneflowers and various other perennials.
#5 Early in January, I enlisted the help of my husband to cut the bottles for me. I have a lousy track record with knives, so I thought this the best approach.
#6 The milk and vinegar jugs, We cut open about 1/3 of the way down and just 3/4 of the way around. So it was like a lid that opened but was still attached. By doing this, allowed us to plant the seeds quickly. And when they are ready to venture into the real world, we will be able to transplant them into the garden swiftly. Randy also provided drainage holes on the bottom using both a carbon knife to make slits and some he used a drill.
#7 The greens containers already had hinge type lid and just needed some drainage holes. I am eager to see if there is a difference in the vessels used as far as seed germination. I did divide the seed packets between both styles of containers so I could make a side by side comparison.
#8 I purchased a good seed starter mix and filled each container with at least about 4 cups of the mix. Next, I made sure the soil was wet.
#9 Following the directions for seed planting depth, I sowed each container. I was also cautious about the amount of cover soil placed over them. Then I water them into their winter home.
#10 A word of caution, label each container. Anyone who has started seeds and skipped this step realizes, seedlings tend to all look very similar. I marked each filled container in two places. First I used a water soluble pen and wrote on a plastic knife, which used the duct tape closing up the jug. (See next step)
#11 At the point I wished them all a good growing season and buttoned down the hatches. I used duck tape I had around the house to seal the cuts, made sure the caps were off the jugs and took them outside to my patio table. Since I had a somewhat eclectic array of duck tape, including Mickey Mouse, from a project with my grandbabies, my Winter Sowing project table is very colorful.
#So then off to the patio table to incubate. They will all sit there through sleet and snow, freeze and thaw, rain and sun, hopefully, to germinate into lots of new plants to grace my gardens.
Stay tuned.... I will keep you updated.
|Here is my collection of seeds|
|This is the potting medium I used|
|Jugs were cleaned and prepared|
|I filled the varied containers with soil|
|I used platstic silverware to ID each container's contents|
|All watered in ready to go to the porch|
|My Kentucky Greenhouse!|