Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Sowing - Take 2!!!

And we're back at the beginning...

Last year at around this time, I decided to try winter sowing.  The concept of starting seeds outside in the snow was just crazy to me!

So naturally, I tried it.

Gallon milk jug sitting outside with no snow
Last year's canterbury bells

There was a problem, however.  Last winter was a mild winter for this region, and snow was just about non-existent.  As a result, nothing really took off and grew the way I was hoping it would.

The theory behind winter sowing is simple.  

You're basically treating seeds the way they'd be treated in nature.  The seeds go through a process of freezing and thawing, which causes them to slough off their shells in a steady and slow manner.

This is all done in a controlled manner, of course.  The seeds and soil are placed in a plastic container (milk jug) which actually stays at a warmer temperature when the sun shines on it.

This process conditions the seed for growth, then provides a properly warm environment at the tail end of the season, which allows the plant to grow at a time when you'd normally still be staring at seeds inside and under a grow light.

It's the lazy person's seed starting method, which means I love it!

I grabbed my supplies again this year, and went to work.  This was the perfect anniversary project to celebrate the beginning of the second year of Even Green Boots Leave Trails, after all, since it was the first project that was done!

1 bag of dirt, 1 packet of lemondrop marigold seeds, half gallon milk jug sliced in half, paring knife

Marigolds were the plant of choice, since flowers and herbs appear to be the most viable candidates for winter sowing, from what I've read. Well, that, and my daughter loves yellow.  She insisted on yellow flowers.

So... Marigold, it was.

The supplies were simple:

  • Dirt
  • Seeds
  • Plastic milk jug
  • A sharp knife

Just as before, the work involved was simple, as well.  
  1. Cut the milk jug in half.
  2. Pierce the bottom and sides for air flow and drainage.
  3. Fill the bottom half with dirt.
  4. Add water.  Make sure to use a lot of it.
  5. Plant the seeds according to the directions on the packet.
  6. Tape the plastic milk jug back together.
  7. Label it - if you do enough of these, I promise that you'll forget what went where!
  8. Do a happy dance.  The hard part is done.
See?  I told you it was the lazy person's seed starting method!

Now that you've finished the happy dance - 
          Do that happy dance, darn it!
- It's time to take things outside.  

You want to place the plastic milk jug in an area that 

a) Gets plenty of sunlight, and 
b) Is out of the way.

We got a lot of snow the evening before I started my winter sowing, 

Child in snowsuit and coat, clinging to a small tree while atop a snowdrift beside the shoveled driveway
My daughter, bravely clinging to a tree
atop the highest mountain in the universe...
So I actually had to place the jug inside the snow.  Much different from last year!  I chose to place it beside the bench at the corner of the porch.  It was an area that wouldn't attract foot traffic, yet would supply the marigolds with ample sunlight.

half gallon jug covered almost completely with snow.  The word "marigolds" is written with permanent black marker


Just like the first time I did winter sowing, I left the lid on the top.

Don't leave the lid on the container!!!

The top of the container needs to remain open in order to allow rain and snow to enter.  Otherwise, you'll have one dry milk jug!  I ran back out to remove it, shaking my head.  

Some people just never learn, right?

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