When to Winter Sow in Zone 7 ?

EACorrieJanuary 19, 2013

We bought our house in MD last Spring and had to excavate the yard over the Summer, which means we are starting most of the gardens from scratch this year. I would really like to try winter sowing for my veg and herbs, but I'm confused about what to start when. I have gone through Trudi's amazing list of suggestions, but I am having trouble determining if I am too late or too early to get things like Tomatoes, Peppers, and herbs going now (January).

I am going to follow the great suggestions from other threads to WS some of the seeds and indoor sow the other half to see what works better, but I hope someone has experience in zone 7 generally or Baltimore specifically that they could share?

Thank you!

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We live about 60 miles west of you. I determined that I was planting tomato seed on Feb 22nd and peppers on March 8th. I WS'd brandywine tomato seeds right around this time last year and they did pretty good from my bus boy containers. The milk jugs did not fair very well. The only pepper seed that germinated was Bell Peppers.
Last year was my first year for WSing. I'll be anxious to read other postings to determine if I in fact did sow them too early last year and this is why my germination rate was so low. I think I only got about 20%?
This year I have about 70 milk jugs ready to put outside. I hope for success because I am really counting on them this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:39PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

You can start putting most things out now. If you look at the container war postings you'll see that many people in colder zones than you already have dozens of containers out. I sow my tomatoes in Feb., but that's only because that's when I did them the first year and it worked out great, so I keep doing it then. I've already sown lettuce, broccoli, delphinium, swiss chard, canterbury bells, malva, verbena, dianthus, hollyhocks and a few others. The only drawback to doing them now is you'll have a longer wait for sprouts -- nothing is coming up till the temps are right for those seeds. So if something would normally sprout in April, you won't see results till then.

I am continually surprised by the germination rate, which is high. I tend to oversow tomatoes and always wind up with more than I have room for. Which is not to say there won't be failures -- every year I have one or two containers that fail to sprout for whatever reason. If you have a few seeds of something you really want, hold a few back to start inside just in case.

Midmented, bell peppers are tough for many. I've been doing this for years and have had mixed results with bells, as have many other posters. The hot peppers seem to do better for me. (And if you wait till April it's not ws, it's spring sowing :)


    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 6:55AM
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Getting a lot of tips from you carytoo!

I sowed some cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli today. I am waiting for next month to sow tomato but really thinking about getting them out each week from now until the end of February.

Also, I am now putting the containers in a morning sun only spot. Last year they were in full sun all day location.

I really wish peppers would WS well. There is a ton of seed I've collected and I really don't have a good spot to start them inside. I started a "test flat" in the basement on a seedling heat mat yesterday with some pepper seed that I want to make sure germinates. I think my issue with growing inside has been using too much water so I am playing around with germination before it's time to actually start indoors. The peppers I started last year did best staying on seedling heat mats all spring but honestly the WS bell peppers produced the most fruit.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 2:07PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Midmented, most ws plants do better eventually. Trudi says it's the roots, which are amazing. I think it makes them tougher. I'm going to give the bell peppers another ws try. I'm not a huge fan of them so if I get only one plant that will be plenty for me. The hot peppers, now that's a different story. I need lots of cherry bombs and jalapenos for pickling, and I'm trying cayenne this year. My bro says one or two cayenne plants will give me enough peppers to dry and grind down so I'll have enough flakes for the next couple of years. We'll see.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 6:26AM
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Carytoo and Midmented - Great advice, thank you!

I am going to get busy this week prepping more containers and start just about EVERYTHINGin the next 2-3 weeks. I'll definitely hold back some pepper and tomato seeds for indoors in case I have failures. I'll also check out the container wars forum (thanks, Carytoo).

Do either of you worry about over-heating in the sun? On a warm day in Feb/Mar do you open up the jugs for a few hours or just let them be? It can get super warm in zone 7 on random days.

Here is what I am going to WS:

(I'll post a follow-up with results - finger's crossed! This feels really ambitious for a first try, but we really are starting the entire garden from scratch)

Arugula Wild Rocket Arugula
Basil Genovese
Basil Thai Sweet
Basil Dark Purple Opal
Beans - Bush Snap Roma II Bush Bean
Beet Detroit Dark Red
Calendula Orange King
Celery Tendercrisp Celery
Cucumber Marketmore 76
Dill Bouquet
Eggplant Rosa Bianca
Kale Dwarf Siberian
Lamb's Ear
Lettuce - Crisphead Big Boston
Lettuce - Leaf Rocky Top Mix
Mint Spearmint
Oregano Greek
Parsley Giant of Italy
Pepper Chinese 5 Color
Pepper Purple Jalapeno
Pepper Golden Cal Wonder
Scallions Ishikura
Spinach Bloomsdale Long Standing
Squash (Summer) Early Prolific Straightneck
Squash (Summer) Black Beauty
Squash (Winter) Butternut - Waltham
Swiss Chard 5 color Silverbeet
Tarragon Russian
Tomato Brandywine
Tomato Goldman's Italian American
Tomato Yellow Brandywine
Tomato Black Cherry
Tomato Big Rainbow

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 9:31AM
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In my 1st year (last year) of winter sowing containers:
I planted saved romanian pepper seed and gurneys giant bell.
This is what happened last year:
1.)None germinated in small containers.
2.) 3 out of 9 milk jugs had gurneys bell peppers that germinated. No romanian.

I planted saved roma tomato seed and heirloom brandywine.
1.) None germinated in small containers.
2.) Roma germinated in 2 out of 3 milk jugs.
3.) Brandywine germinated in all bus boy containers that were filled with seedling soil but none germinated in bus boy containers that I used jiffy pots in. (did not try them in milk jugs).

Using last years outcome, maybe I will try sowing tomato and pepper seed by simply putting potting soil in bus boy containers and covering them with plastic.
(Link below has some pictures of last years containers with plants)

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 3:01PM
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manure_queen(md 7)

Peppers are basically tropical plants. They prefer warmth on their footsies and probably should be started indoors. NOW.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 8:25AM
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2013, the milk jugs did a lot better than 2012. My bus boy containers did not. All of the tomato seeds came up. I planted them last year on February 22nd, 2013. I waited until March 8th to sow any pepper seed. No bell peppers germinated but sweet banana and Poblano peppers did.
I'm not starting any cole crops other than cabbage. WS broccoli and cauliflower plants do not grow fast enough before the heat hits. Cabbage seems to do fine. I wait until fall for other cole crops.
The schedule I used last year is at: http://midmented.wordpress.com/category/gardening/

IMO, the soil I bought from Lowes made a big difference in germination. I made sure I had soil with coconut coir. I'm ordering it this weekend.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:13AM
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