Winter Sowing: An Experiment

Y’all. The Cabin Fever is in full effect.

Despite the seedlings that are sprouting and doing their thing in the basement, I’m itching to sow more. Only its too early to so anything more than what I’ve got going. What’s a gal to do?

Winter Sowing!

Now, I’ve not tried it before, but there’s no reason not to right now! I’m taking my cues from the Penn State article I linked to above and this one from A Garden For the House. I’ve decided to sow just a few of my annuals (and a few perennials that need cold stratification) into a Winter Sowing set-up and I will sow another batch of the same seeds into my usual regimen under the grow lights when the time comes. Then we will see a) which ones look healthier come planting time and b) which method is easier.

I had everything in the house I needed to get started: Clear or mostly clear plastic containers, a drill bit for drainage holes, a serrated knife to cut the containers in half, Sharpies for labeling, Duct Tape, dirt and seeds. Easy. Off to the races!

I figured the most willing volunteers would be the Sweet Peas (Mrs. Collier, Black Knight, Prince Edward of York). I also seeded Cosmos ‘Versailles Blush’, Nasturtium ‘King Theodore’ as well as perennials Sanguisorbia officinalis (Great Burnett) and Anemone patens (Pasque Flower).

I rummaged through our recyclables and came up with a few good options. Lids aren’t needed so those were discarded.

I drilled a whole bunch of drainage holes in the bottom of each container and I added a few along the bottom edge of the sides just for good measure.

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Then I cut them in half. I tried to use a saw but that was both overkill and not effective. I switched over to an old Ginsu type serrated knife and it worked like a dream- just be careful of your fingers!

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I didn’t cut all the way through them so that the tops wouldn’t have to be fully reattached to the bases, only taped back together.

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Then I filled the bases up most of the way with some basic soil mixed with perlite and grit. I labeled each container with the seed name, sowing date, and how many seeds I planted. This is sorta scientific after all!

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The containers got placed into a tray with drainage and watered well. I taped them off and they were ready to be tossed out into the cold.

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Ready for winter! They got placed outside on a 4F day with more snow to come in the week ahead. I placed them on top of our upturned rainwater cistern. This site should allow good light come spring and good snow-cover for insulation.

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I tucked them into the existing 14″ of snow and did end up covering them over fully with shovelfuls of snow. Thankfully the snow we have is pretty light so I wasn’t worried about crushing those containers.

Now we wait!

I’m fascinated to see how well this method works and particularly if it works well for the perennials. This would be so (SO) much easier than the extended sowing under the grow lights! I promise to report back come spring.

Do any of you use this method and what are your experiences with it?

2 thoughts on “Winter Sowing: An Experiment

    1. Me too! But I read a number of articles and quite a few of the ‘experts’ mentioned using this technique with Sweet Peas and other Annuals. I’m less sure of how well the Cosmos and Nasturtiums will do, but again, the ‘experts’ claimed they would be fine! I can’t wait for spring to see what the results are!

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