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Did you know that you could sow your annual seeds in winter? I didn't, but now I'm hooked on winter sowing not only perennials and shrubs, but also many of my annuals. The following ideas can help to keep your garden chock-full of blooms all season long, too, and it's so easy to do!
Jan 21, 2014 7:14 PM CST
|So sorry y'all, but the site hosting that article just went down sometime today. We've removed the link for the moment, but the information you'll need will be posted here soon; probably tomorrow.
[Edited to add that the sowing information follows; read on in this thread to learn the process.]
Jan 22, 2014 9:04 AM CST
|Now, this method is fairly new to me, but it's one that I'm using this year. I'd originally intended to link to an article posted on the website of an expert, but it's not available at the moment. Here's the short version, as I understand it.
-Bag of vermiculite. I like to see the assurance that's it's asbestos-free on the label, but I think most brands are pretty safe these days.
-Clear or opaque containers with lids, and without drainage holes. We won't be adding water after sowing, so drainage isn't an issue; we want to maintain moisture, not allow it to escape.
-A bucket or tub in which to stir and moisten planting mix.
-Labels or masking tape to mark the variety.
-Water. If you aren't mixing at the kitchen sink, a jug with a hole drilled in the plastic cap works well for directing a small stream of water right where you want it. I have many of these that I use to store rainwater. I much prefer the results I get if I don't use water from the softening system, but that's just personal preference.
-Large, clear tub to store multiple varieties together in one place. Rocks or bricks may be added to it to help anchor it in windy storage conditions.
-A spray bottle for ensuring good surface contact for tiny unburied seeds; just a spritz or two will do it.
-Clear packing tape to water-proof your labels.
Fill your mixing container about halfway and stir in a bit of water at a time. You don't want to create a dripping planting medium, just one that will clump up momentarily, yet release when jiggled.
Fill your container about halfway with moistened vermiculite; at least three inches worth, but leave plenty of space between the surface and the lid for sprouted seedlings. I'd say that any container less than 5" deep may not be the easiest to use. You'd really have to be quick to get those sprouts out of there if there weren't enough headroom.
Use another container to firm the surface, add a few seeds and cover appropriately. A light sprinkling of vermiculite for small seeds, a bit more for larger varieties. Dust-like seeds won't need to be covered, but if you're concerned about good surface contact you might spritz these sparingly with your sprayer. Apply lid and label, and you're done.
Set your containers in a spot that offers protection from wind, yet still provides plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. A porch or unheated greenhouse would be ideal, but if those aren't available you might try setting your tubs in the lee of a building, under a group of conifers, or within a grouping of deciduous shrubs.
As spring shows signs of its imminent arrival, be sure to check your containers often, and be prepared to up-pot seedlings weekly as sprouts begin to appear.
The ideas behind this method of sowing originated from ATP member @JonnaSudenius. Thanks, Jonna!
Any and all mistakes in representation or misinterpretation herein are entirely my own.
Currently, it's zero degrees where I am, and I'm sowing next season's hopes and gardening dreams in the comfort of my home; how great is that?!
Have fun sowing!
Wishing you all the best gardening season ever next year!
Jan 23, 2014 12:12 PM CST
|I'm quite stressed, because I have to build my website again. I made it in Frontpage and it's not longer supported by Microsoft and my Webhost. I couldn't change or upload anything anymore.
Now I'm trying to build a new one with Wordpress, but - since I hardly have knowledge about it- it will take me at least 3-4 weeks.
But I think I was able to publish the article in English about winter sowing again. Try this link http://www.seedsite.eu/sowing
It's not the final layout, but I thought it would be helpful for you.
Let me know if it doesn't work.
Jan 23, 2014 1:51 PM CST
You've got it working just fine, Jonna. Thanks so much, and best wishes to you on your rebuild!
Jan 28, 2014 2:16 PM CST
|Trying to rebuild my website was very hard for me, I've been busy with it from early in the morning to late in the evening for more than a week and I made very little progress. My son in law now will make the design and after that I can fill it with all my seeds and articles. In the meantime, you can't reach the article about sowing in vermiculite. If you want to read it, send me your e-mail addres in a private message and I will send the article to you.
Jan 28, 2014 3:37 PM CST
|Yeah - I have been Fall/Winter sowing for ~ 35 years. Works great. I start ~ 1 month before first frost.
The lidded container sowing works well when placed on a screened porch where they are easy to access.
I do annuals and perennials.
For those seeds that I purchase mid winter - like right now - I start in my basement grow light area.
Fall/Winter sowing is great for the annuals since you extend the blooming period immensely. WRT perennials, many will bloom the first year - especially when fall/winter sown rather than spring sowed.
Another hint is to make a working bed that can do double duty. I plant many seeds in 3 - 4 " containers and sink to the rim in the bed. Then in the Spring, move them to a more sunny area where they can grow out. Then I use the working bed to start other seeds or as a holding area for seedlings that are SLOW to grow and may need to be sat out the following year. Note that the working bed serves as a cold frame without the frame.
I live in 5b/6 and planted some outdoor seeds a few days ago Sunday when it was 60 - yesterday it was zero. :-)
I have always been fascinated that people learn about fall/winter sowing. It is the method used by Mother Nature. :-)
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
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