The weather is cold and dreary, and spring seems so far away. We have the perfect thing for you to do on these cold days, to help create images of spring and plan for a beautiful garden! Winter sowing is a fun, creative and guaranteed way to start seeds early, effectively and inexpensively.
This method is great for the environment because you reuse containers that you would usually just throw in the garbage. The containers act like little greenhouses where the seeds will germinate at their own pace when they are ready, much like in nature. It's great because you can take your time and work on sowing your containers all through the winter. But be careful because it's so easy that you end up with many more containers than you realize; and then when your seedlings are ready to be planted, you'll find that you don't have enough space in your garden to plant them all. But it's a good problem to have—you can always share with others!
1. Select container: Milk jug, 2-Liter, 3-Liter, clear cake or pie containers – any container providing 3 to 5 inches of soil and 2” clearance for a translucent cover/top. The shape and size of the container doesn't matter, as long as the container...• has a lid that lets light through (ie: not completely opaque)• is deep enough to hold 2-3 inches of dirt• is tall enough to accommodate the height of the seedlings as they grow...then you can use it for winter sowing.2. Add Ventilation and Drainage holes: add small holes at the top for ventilation and at the bottom of the container for good drainage.
3. Add soil, moisten completely, let drain. Then scratch the top of the soil, add seeds, cover lightly with soil or sphagnum peat moss/sand. Water them well. We like to use the sprayer from the kitchen sink and saturate the soil and let the excess water drain out.4. Label and Seal Container: Be sure to label the container with the type of seeds and the date.Mark the container. There are a few ways to do this. Some people use masking or duct tape to label their containers. If you do this, make sure to put the tape on the bottom of the container or it will fade by Spring (even with permanent marker). We like to cut up old vinyl mini blinds and write on them with pencil, paint pen or china pen and push the marker into the soil and/or attach one with a zip cord to the container, these won't fade. What if you have the perfect container but no lid? ... No problem!Cover the container with a plastic bag and secure it at the bottom with a twist tie, then poke a few holes in the top. Make sure to pull the plastic as tight as you can so it won't blow away.If you have a container that will fit into a gallon ziploc bag, you can put it in and zip it up...but make sure that you poke holes in the top and bottom of the bag, as well as in the bottom of the container!Remember to:Place them outdoors in a spot that gets good morning sun, you do not want them to get FULL sun, it will cook the seeds prior to time for germination.Protect them from strong winds so they won't blow away.After Mother-Nature has taken care of the containers outside; the rewards will absolutely amaze you! Happy gardening! ~ Urban Farmer Lisa