What is Winter Sowing? | Chapter 1

Winter Sowing is seed starting without the window space.  I have lots of windows, but I also have lots of little boys that knock down trays full of dirt and seeds so there will not be a lot of windowsill seed starting for many many years.  The answer for me is winter sowing.  You basically pick seeds that will work (a list of good candidates is HERE!), sow them in a flat or recyclables (such as yogurt cups or milk jugs with the tops cut off) and let nature have its way with them.  They sit outside frozen in the snow until everything starts warming up.  The seeds germinate in their containers and you don't have to ease them outside like you do with traditional indoor started seedlings.  They are already used to the outdoor weather.  It's genius.  I wish I had been the one to discover it.

Moving on...start with your container.  I was lucky enough to find all these containers out in the shed when we moved in.  The nice new flat on the bottom was from DH - thanks!  However, like I mentioned before, you can poke holes in the bottom of any plastic container and it will work! 

Second, you will need some soil or a soiless base.  These pellets were included with the flats and are little peat dehydrated munchkins.  You can buy these (they are fairly cheap) or buy potting soil.  If you have compost, you can use that too, but you might get other seeds growing that you weren't expecting.  It is up to you how in depth you go.  If you are just messing around and trying this for the first time, get an empty sour cream container (cleaned!), fill it with dirt and use a seed like coneflower.  You'll be good to go!

The next step is simple.  Put soil or a peat pellet in each little slot, or fill up all your recyclables with soil.

Now, add water...gently please!  Those munchkins will start to float!  
Make sure you are working over a sink or have a drainage tray under your flats or else you will get water everywhere :)

The pellets will poof up like little mountains.  Keep watering until they are all poofy and a dark brown color like the photo above.  
If you get tired of being gentle with your watering, feel free to use your kitchen sprayer, but beware, you might get wet :)

Once everything is thoroughly soaked, run your hand over the top of the tray to even out all the soil.  Your try will look like this:

Wait several hours (or days) until the soil is wet, but not sopping and the soil is all about the same level in its "slots".  When your soil is ready, it is time to begin the fun part - choosing seeds!

Check out Chapter 2 to see what seeds I chose for this year and in the meantime, you can browse your choices based on your zone HERE

By the way...if you are a winter sowing purist, you ONLY sow in recyclables...Chapter 3 will satisfy the cheapies in all of you...milk jugs and  cool whip cartons, here we come!  Check Chapter 3 out HERE!

THANKS to BECKY for guest hosting this set of winter sowing articles!