I’ve had cabin fever in a serious way this year. I just want to be in my garden digging around, harvesting squash, sharing a cucumber with Vector, generally enjoying the sun. But alas, it is less than 20 degrees outside and we’re looking at a solid 2 more months until spring. The bulbs start popping up around mid-march, earlier if it’s been warm.
But, even in this cold weather, I can garden! Seeds just came out at Home Depot and I’ve already put in an order with Burgess.
In addition to dreaming and ordering seeds, I actually already planted some. It’s called winter-sowing and the internet says it’s awesome. Basically the idea is that you make little green-houses out of milk jugs and plant your seeds in them. They will freeze and thaw and get snowed on just like seeds in nature. The freeze-thaw cycle is great for re-seeding annuals and perennials alike. It increases germination rates and prevents the need for seed stratification, soaking, and nicking that some seeds need to get good germination. In the spring, the little green-houses will warm up faster than the surrounding soil. As things heat up, you gradually remove the covers and soon enough you will have seedlings ready to transplant into the garden.
Winter-sowing is different than fall-sowing where you plant perennial seeds and next year’s hardy annuals in the garden. Winter-sowing prevents the seeds from being eaten by birds or buried too deep for germination. The greenhouses of the milk cartons also prevent the death of the young plants by late frosts. I’ve never tried this process before but I’m excited to see the results. I’ll report on my experiences as usual.
For more information on winter sowing, check out this blog by Kevin Lee Jacobs:
There is plenty of other information but Kevin is in zone 5b, not too far from me in zone 6b.
So far, I’ve planted Russel Hybrid Lupines and Shasta Daisys. I had two gallon size milk jugs, 2 half gallon jugs, and a large gatoraid bottle. On Jan 19, I planted a gallon and a half of the Daisies and a gallon and a half and a gatoraid bottle of the Lupines. On Feb 2, I planted Pansies in a windshiled wiper fluid jug and Black Eyed Susans in a gallon milk jug. Stefan just finished another Gallon of milk so I need to decide what to plant out next!
I’m waiting on Stefan to drink more milk so I can plant some more seeds I purchased: Columbines, Petunias, Foxgloves, Delphiniums. I also ordered some herb seeds from Burgess which should be here in the next month or so. Some seeds like Parsley and Thyme are receptive to the winter-sow technique. I need to do a little more research though. Here is a great link for a list of herbs that can be winter-sowed in what zones.
I’m afraid I’m probably going to have to get creative about containers. I don’t think Stefan drinks that much milk and my lactose free milk doesn’t come in the plastic jugs but in the paper cartons.
Have you ever tried winter-sowing? Are there any plants you think I’m missing? I keep toying with morning glories but they tend to grow all by themselves without needing any help!