This has probably happened to all of us; you started seeds indoors at the right time, watered and used grow lights or direct sun, and then, little-to-nothing happened. Or, you were underwhelmed by the results, and seriously considered chucking it all out and rushing off to your local garden center for more promising starter plants.
There is an alternative that is less stressful, takes up no room in your house, and may actually net better results.
Late last fall I heard about winter sowing, and was simultaneously intrigued and skeptical; how can seeds that need warmth propagate out in the cold?
I still don’t fully understand it, but am going to give it a try. Here are the broad strokes:
1. Collect a bunch of clean milk or water jugs (or pop liters, or similar)
2. Make sure the cap is removed
3. Poke some holes in the bottom
4. Cut horizontally around the jug just under the handle, stop cutting when you have about 1” still connected
5. Fill the bottom part with moistened potting soil almost to the cut line (add water to the potting soil until it is kind of gloppy; any excess water drains off through the puncture holes)
6. Sow the seeds one at a time, evenly spaced in soil (about 8-10 per jug, depending on your crop)
7. Close up and tape around the cut with duct tape and write on the tape what you planted – with a permanent marker
You have just created a little greenhouse. Now, take it outside and set in a sunny location; the sun is going to do a lot of the work here. And that is it. In a few weeks, check from time to time for signs of sprouting. I like this idea because nature is in charge, and it takes some of the human error out of the equation.
Please watch this Youtuber, Esther’s Gardening Adventures, for her winter sowing series and much more comprehensive instructions on how to winter sow your spring seeds:
You can start tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, annual and perennial flowers, and so much more this way! I started some cabbages, leeks, and asparagus, plan to plant some different choices in a week or so, and will report back once results start coming in!
If your seed starting success lies with the standard indoor planting under grow lights or a sunny window, great! Now’s the time to get your supplies ready!
Other things to do in the garden:
~ Plant fruit trees, shrubs, and peonies.
~ Prune trees and shrubs.
“In a way, Winter is the real Spring — the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.” — Edna O’Brien
Caroline Poppendeck, Librarian
Steele Memorial Library