Once January comes around I find my self quite impatient to get started on the veggie and flower gardens. The garden is buried in snow, the temperature hasn’t been above freezing in the past 10 days and I’m eager to see something green.
A few years ago I stumbled upon a facebook group called “Winter Sowers”. Trudi, the original winter sower, developed this unique and easy way of starting seeds.
I’ve never been good at starting seeds indoors. Between lighting issues, lack of space for all the individual pots, water spills, and children that love to help to the point of unhelpfulness, and throw in some cats and new puppy to the mix, there is no safe place inside to start seeds. Anything with the slogan “K.I.S.S.”(Keep It Super Simple) is right up my alley and that’s why I love winter sowing.
Winter sowing is the method of planting seeds in the winter in clear containers and then setting them out side.
The most common recycled container is the milk carton. I start by heating up my glue gun. I use the tip of the glue gun to melt four holes in the bottom of the carton. Then I take a knife and carefully cut around the middle of the carton leaving a 1 inch piece to keep the bottom and top connected. I then go to my local hardware store or grain store and buy bags of potting soil. The reason I use potting soil is because it has more nutrients in it than seed starting mix. I choose the potting soil because my seedlings will be in the containers until after their true leaves have emerged. When I get home I mix the soil with water to make it moist in a 5 gallon bucket.
I then put 3-4 inches of soil in the milk jug. Don’t skimp on the dirt, we want our plants to have lots of room to grow strong roots. Then choose a seed packet and plant it in the carton. Some sowers plant according to the seed packages recommended spacing, others like my self, plant the whole seed packet per carton. Then a strip of duct tape around the middle to keep the top on, label what you planted with a permanent paint marker (sharpie will fade)and stick it out in the snow!
Right now I have: sunflowers, nasturtium, sweet peas, morning glory, onions, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, beans, peas, pumpkins, gourds, broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggplant, and cabbage. They’re all buried under the snow.
The rest is mostly up to mother nature. The cartons will act as a miniature green house allowing light in and trapping some heat. The lid of the milk carton is left off to let rain and snow in to keep the soil moist. Once the snow melts I’ll check the cartons to ensure the soil isn’t drying out. The seedlings will start to germinate when mother nature tell them to, usually around mid march. Once temperatures are above freezing at night I’ll remove the lids and as soon as they have their true leaves and are hardened off I’ll plant them in the garden.
These plants will be hardened off naturally and I wont have to worry about them being too leggy.
Genevieve and Emmett also love helping with putting soil in to the containers and planting seeds. Its a great activity for anyone in the family.