Winter Sowing forum: What I will do different with WS project in 2011

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Name: Pippi21
Silver Spring, Maryland 20906 (Zone 7a)
Pippi21
Mar 31, 2010 12:57 PM CST
I know that this first year of experience isn't over yet; germinated seedlings are not in flowerbeds growing yet, but I have learned a few things and will make a note in my gardening journal. Don't use styrofoam coffee cups, as they tend to dry out quickly. Cold drink cups is still debatable. Use only milk jugs and liter soda bottles(clear) Paint any brightly colored milk crates that hold milk jugs a color to blend in with house siding so they won't appear so obvious. I will number the milk jugs and date them outside with common name only. This should also match my written/computer records. I think if I do it that way, it will be easier for me to keep up with what has not germinated and what has. Of course, plant ID tags inside the jugs/soda bottles.
Maybe notate on my written/computer record what crate they are in. Now I will have to figure out how to mark the crates so I'll know which was planted first. I'm sure I'll figure out some other things to change to make things go faster in the planting process. Oh, I'm not totally happy with Miracle Grow potting mix..if I can find Promix..splurge for it.
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Apr 1, 2010 9:49 PM CST
Pippi, I like your idea of painting the milk crates a color to blend in with the house!
I didn't realize that styrofoam cups dry out easily. . . I don't usually use them, but did have a few this year. I'll watch them.
The think I vow to do EVERY YEAR is not overdo it with WS so that I have a bazillion seedlings. And then I do it again.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Apr 4, 2010 4:59 AM CST
Due to sheer volume of soil, nothing holds moisture like a big old jug- either milk jugs or 2 liters. Any cups will dry faster due to smaller volume of soil. I do usually use a few styro cups (8 oz. and 16 oz.) and a few 6 oz yogurt cups and don't find that they dry out all that fast. The worst for drying out are paper cups and peat pots. I tried those in my first year, won't do that again.

Karen
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Apr 4, 2010 5:51 AM CST
I put some polymer gels in my cups
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Apr 4, 2010 5:55 AM CST
I find the polymer good for late season stuff. I put some gels into the cups of tomatoes that I planted last night. But I don't use them in winter because things are so wet here then from snow and rain.

Karen
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
Apr 4, 2010 4:03 PM CST
Karen, I think your practice about using the polymers mainly for late season stuff is good advice--at least for someone like me, who tends to use them with a too-heavy hand. I tipped out a jug of WS alyssum seedlings yesterday because they looked "off" and I saw these giant gel "blobs" that were probably keeping the soil too wet, with all the rain we've had, to the point where the seedlings were getting too much moisture. Going to remember that as well, next year!
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
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Onewish1
Apr 5, 2010 7:02 AM CST
that's why I always expand them first.. very easy to overdo it
Name: Gloria Gerritz
Floyd, VA
Elfie4ever
Apr 6, 2010 8:20 PM CST
Because we had snow cover from 12/19 to late March, I was not able to get the milk jugs out. I couldn't risk falling in the snow. I put them out several days ago. Now our temps are in the mid to high 80s. It will cool off, of course, but
this is hard to deal with. I have to watch the jugs (with the tops tipped off) constantly so they don't dry out.

LOL, is it even remotely possible NOT to over do it in WS? I will probably never reach a point of moderation.

I am happy with things I am growing under lights then transplanting to cell trays and putting in a shady place or protecting it with layers of dark nylon netting. I will have tons of lupin and delphs. This is the only place I have ever lived where they might grow.

All of this is a lot of work for an old lady, but I am not ready to give up by a long shot.
Name: Molly Denza
Columbia, TN
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mollyd1953
Apr 7, 2010 8:36 AM CST
2010 was my first year ever doing WS and I'm liking it! Only problem I've run into was I mislabelled one jug and I can tell it's not what I wrote on the label but not sure what it is.
I'm also using those plastic things strawberries come in from Walmart. They can be closed at the top but have slots all the way around for ventilation. I've only used these for really small amounts of seeds.
Next year I'm going to try way more jugs! I'm finding that even my daylily seeds will sprout this way without the traditional presoaking.
I'm not sure how early I can put jugs out without having stuff sprout too early. Winter here arrives around December or even early January but we can have warm to hot weather after that. A pot of parsley left on the porch unprotected was green all winter and has new growth right now. And this has been described as an unusually cold and long winter!

MollyD
RainDog Farm,Columbia,Tn
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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
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gemini_sage
Apr 7, 2010 11:16 AM CST
Awesome, Molly! Winter Solstice is the recommended start time for wintersowing, and that's about right for most zones. Typically I can't even think about it till after the holidays, so sometime in January is when I start. I imagine that would work just fine for you as well.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Molly Denza
Columbia, TN
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mollyd1953
Apr 7, 2010 11:27 AM CST
Sounds about right to me Neal! Thanks!

MollyD
RainDog Farm,Columbia,Tn
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Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Apr 7, 2010 1:47 PM CST
Molly, sounds great. Every year I tell new wintersowers that milk jugs are best. Most want to try all different things in their first year, but most find that the jugs do indeed work best. And they allow lots of headroom for seedlings, too, for those of us who aren't too efficient at getting everything planted fast enough.

Wintersowing generally does eliminate the need for soaking, nicking, and everything else needed for some seeds indoors. The rain and snow and fluctuating temperatures overcome those physical problems well.

Like Neal, I usually start sometime in January, after Christmas mess is put away.

Sounds to me that you're a new convert to wintersowing. Once that bug bites, it stays with you. Thumbs up

Karen
Name: Molly Denza
Columbia, TN
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mollyd1953
Apr 7, 2010 4:14 PM CST
Smiling
RainDog Farm,Columbia,Tn
Goats




Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Apr 7, 2010 4:26 PM CST
I planted out my first containers yesterday and today! Terese had me feeling behind, LOL. The English Wallflowers got planted yesterday, they were about 3" tall. Today some Foxgloves, Basket of Gold Alyssum, and Baby Blue Eyes. And since I'm not even finished sowing, I'm going to reuse the containers. Thankfully I didn't need to cut them apart.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Apr 7, 2010 5:39 PM CST
that's always nice.. last year I found it easy to separate the poppies with perlite or vermiculite added in
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
May 8, 2010 9:42 AM CST
I tried winter sowing for the first time and I love it!

Next year, I will use only soda bottles. They seem to retain their moisture better in the spring, the few milk jugs I had dried out quickly. I will be more adventurous and try some annuals and veggies, probably later in the winter. I will also have more bottles on hand and more potting soil. I kept running out.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
May 9, 2010 4:55 AM CST
funny for me it was the other way around... I thought the soda bottles were drying out faster because they were clear.. funny how things work for all of us differently
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Pocono Mountains, PA
Andi
May 10, 2010 9:06 PM CST
Mine were on a patio on the north side of the building in mostly shade with some filtered sunlight. Maybe that made a difference. Also, I had cut the milk bottles on three sides and duck taped them closed. They had slight air gaps on the sides and sometimes the tape flew open. I am happy with the soda bottles, good thing since I don't drink milk.
Name: Emily
Mid-Cape Cod, MA. zone 7a
Charter ATP Member
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CapeCodGardener
May 11, 2010 9:16 AM CST
This is my 3rd year wintersowing and I have lots of nice seedlings and some that just didn't germinate at all. I tried something new this time and I don't think it worked as well for me as the 'ol milk-jug or soda-bottle routine. Since I ran out of containers, I put some larger seeds (sun-flowers and red castor beans--I've WS them both before ) into individual paper cups and then placed about six of each into a large zip-lock bag. I propped the top slightly open and of course had drainage holes in the cups and the plastic bags. One or two of the seeds germinated but the rest didn't and I think it's because the soil was too wet or something inside the bag--maybe they rotted. Don't think I'll use this method next year. The little hole of the jug or soda-bottle seems to be just the right size for getting the right amount of moisture inside, and the drainage holes in them work just right.
Live and learn!
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
May 11, 2010 12:08 PM CST
Emily, I didn't like paper cups at all. I found that they dried out way to fast in dry weather, and in wet spring weather they turned wet and moldy and downright nasty. As long as I can get 2 liters or milk jugs, I'm sticking to them.

Andi, I saw of picture of your wintersown seedlings that you posted elsewhere, I think it was the echinacea cubit. In the picture the soil in your jug looked kind of shallow, maybe an inch deep. I usually suggest to new wintersowers that a good 3" of soil in the jug is desirable- holds moisture much better. I always shoot for around 3", sometimes it seems to compress to only 2" or 2.5" over time, but they usually hold moisture well. With milk jugs, I generally use 2 strips of duct tape vertically to close them and I've never had one pop open. In fact, I often have to cut the tape with scissors to open them. Is the jug nice and dry when you apply the tape?

I've had great results with wintersowing for the past 4 years. But this year was not so hot. I only did 20 containers this year, only a third or a fourth of what I've done in the past. First I had the disaster windstorm, re-sowed some annuals and have had poor germination in them.

Oh well, not every try can be great, I guess.

Karen

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