Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Winter Sowing

I read about winter sowing last year and knew I wanted to try this method for growing seeds in 2008.

Last year I purchased shelves and lights to create this makeshift indoor growing system, the ones I saw in the gardening catalogs were way out of my price range. This set-up worked beautifully and I successfully grew many of my own plants from seed. There is a wonderful sense of joy and satisfaction in taking a tiny little seed, nurturing it for weeks and watching it grow right before your eyes. There is also immense pleasure in gardening during the winter months. You have a daily reminder that spring is just around the corner.

Even with this large indoor growing system in place, space was still limited. Winter sowing sounded like the perfect solution to me for getting even more flowers for spring.

Kylee, from Our Little Acre had posted about her winter sowing on her blog last year and I had been watching her blog closely this year to see when and how she would do her planting. She posted a few days ago, and gave wonderful directions.

I finally got around to sowing some of my seeds on Tuesday. I used a small drill bit and drilled my drain holes in the bottom of the plastic milk and water jugs.

I can be such a klutz sometimes and this part was a bit unnerving for me, after all I'm the same girl who once stuck a letter opener all the way through her finger while opening mail at work when I was about 20 years old. I still don't like sharp objects. I used the smaller blade for the softer plastics but had to use the box cutter for the harder ones. I'm not sure how you're supposed to cut these things straight, mine certainly were not. I am happy to report that this task was completed without injury to myself.

Next, I numbered the containers on the bottom and the top with a permanent marker. I then filled the bottom part of each container with potting soil and planted my seeds.

This project would be quite enjoyable were it not for the fact that you have to tape the jugs. I was getting frustrated, since the tape just would not cooperate and I had a difficult time aligning the flimsy uneven plastic. Kylee's containers looked so neat and mine, well, their not neat, but their done. Yippee!

Here is my list so far, I say so far because I still want to do a few more, but ran out of containers.

1 Foxglove, Candy Mountain
2 & 3 English Poppy
4 Foxglove Excelsior Mix
5 Blanketflower Gaillardia Aristata
6 Delphinium, Blue Bird
7 Delphinium, pacific Giants, Mixed color
8 Milkweed, Rose, Asclepias incarnata
9 Viola
10 & 11 Cosmos

I'm still trying to find out which seeds can be winter sown in zone 5, so I'm not particularly confident with my choices. I usually have volunteer cosmos, so I thought I try to winter sow it to hopefully get an earlier start, I have so many packages of it I thought I'd experiment. Hopefully the others will be successful, especially the Candy mountain Foxglove and English poppies.

16 comments: said...

There is a website called that will send you free seeds for wintersowing. That way you can experiment and try some new ones.

I think bachelor buttons are pretty full-proof and leafy greens like lettuce are good too.

Jayne said...

Wow Robin, I am impressed! Can't wait to see what grows.

shirl said...

Hey, Robin :-)

Completely off topic here but I see you've continued to have problems with the starling invasions in your garden!

If you do have any birds still visiting like the cardinal or the coopers hawk I wondered if you would like to share them in a bird count post for an hour this weekend. Here in the UK we are doing a birdcount which you can read about in my post 'Rain brings garden birds'. It was just an idea to get others outside to join in - no probs if you are busy. Enjoy your weekend :-D

Thrifty Lady said...

I've tried Delphiniums from seed directly sown into the garden several years with no success. Maybe they just need a little head start. Can't wait to see how yours do! I had to chuckle at the "sharp object" comment! I am also a bit "klutzy" and have been banned by my family from all power tools forever.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This looks like a good collection of winter sown seeds Robin. I can't wait to see how they do. I keep thinking I might do this but I am such a procrastinator I will probably wait until spring for planting seeds.

kate said...

I love the idea of winter sowing - I hope your seeds all do well. I was relieved to hear that there were no injuries sustained in this operation and ... your tape looked pretty straight to me.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Notsocrafty, thank you for the site link, I'll check it out. Also, welcome to Robin's Nesting Place, I'm glad you stopped by for a visit.

Jayne, I can't wait either!

Hi, Shirl. I'll stop by and check out your information. I think it would be fun to do a bird count.

Thrifty lady,Oh, I hope my delphiniums do well. I bought one last year, it was really too expensive, but I loved the blooms.
I don't do well with power tools either, thankfully I haven't been banned yet.

Lisa, I enjoy playing in the dirt during the winter. The only thing is it's a little messy inside the house. You ought to give it a try, at least a few containers.

Thanks, Kate. I hope the seeds do well too. You should have seen the tape up close.

Mary said...

Gee, Robin. You have quite an elaborate manufacturing adventure going here. I am so lazy and will probably buy all of my plants.

Q said...

I did Winter Sowing for a few years. Posted about it in 2006.
Wonderful and easy way to have all the plants one could ever use. I loved it! The group at wintersowing are very nice and helpful.I am not doing any wsing this year since my gardens are full. Glad to see you are in the full swing. Seed to seed for next year too. Once you get going wsing is so easy. You can do spring sowing the same way for when you want to plop a plant in after others are finished like when the poppies are over. Direct planting is quick from a wsed comtainer, I used the "hunk" method.
Have fun and I will check back to see when you get "babies". It is exciting!

Kerri said...

Here's another website with lists of plants for wintersowing:
It has links to more lists as well. Allyssum would do well and anything else that sows itself.
I really like your little indoor greenhouse. You're putting ideas into my head!
I'll look forward to seeing how the wintersowing goes. I may try some too.

Kerri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerri said...

Sorry for the deleted comment. I tried posting the link again, but it just doesn't want to paste the full link. The end of it is winter_sowing

robbinscabin said...

Love your sowing shelf idea! Can't wait to try it myself. I'm primarily a perrenial gardener (cause they're harder to kill~hee hee) but I'm looking to add some bolder colors to my gardens and seeds are very economical. Very new to blogging and to finding great ideas like yours. Thanks again for the idea.

Tina said...

there's a great database here for wintersowing in all zones:

I do it every year and love it!

heartbeat said...

Robin,I have been wintersowing for 3 years now.Last year I sowed 437 containers.I am up to 300 now and will do about 300 more.It is very addicting.Visit us at on the forum wintersowing.Full of FAQS and wonderful people.Also lots of free seeds on the seed swap forum.
As for using a sharp object,I got Black and Deckers cordless scissors.Walmarts has them for about $15.I use a cheap soldering iron for holes and making a start to cut.I use the clear packers tape to seal with.Duct tape comes off.cut them in small pieces all along the counter,works The permanent markers will fade away,I know.Get some plumbers foil tape at Home DePot.The indentions written stays for years.My one roll has lasted 3 yrs.I am excited about you finding wsing.Any doubts on seeds in your zone is listed in the FAQS by zones.Hope to see you there.I am moonphase.I am enjoying reading your blog.

Sherry said...

I am so excited about "winter" sowing! I may have gotten a late start, but I just put my first four containers outside and can't wait to see how they fare! I have a table in the back room and the top of my dresser already covered with seedlings in grow trays and under lights, but it is a hassle. I won't even anticipate my electric bill either!

The comments about being klutzy really made me laugh. I have a reputation in my family for being a super klutz, and yes, I do have my days . . . I had to agree with all the other klutzes out there! I just had a hard time getting the clear wrap off the roll and onto a juice carton and yogurt containers! I don't use anything that comes in plastic gallon containers and I don't drink soda, so I am trying to be really creative about containers. I almost cried when I realized I could use the salad green containers -- I have thrown so many away this winter! Live and learn. Like everyone else, I will anxiously be awaiting the emergence of my own seedlings and eager to hear how others did with their wsing projects!