cold frame WS?

katkni(4)October 21, 2012

I don't have a lot of the containers people usually use for WS, and am not interested in collecting them.

What I do have is 3 good sized cold frames, plastic covers, and a TON of various sized plastic pots. I'm thinking this would work for WS. Has anyone tried this method, and do you have any suggestions?

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I can sow in open pots not enclosed containers here (and do) but my mild wet climate is unique - there is no chance anything will dry out over winter, not ever. Rarely do pots even freeze solid and if they do, for only a day or two and not every year.

In cold frames, how would you watch your moisture in the pots, they'd have no freeze/thaw snow, rain to keep the seeds moist, and once moist, then dried completely out, many will be damaged or lost. I'm a long ways from your climate so just thinking out loud here, not from experience. I can't imagine in a Z4 you'd be able to give them much winter attention.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 5:19PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I believe your idea will work based on someone on this Forum who used a child's swimming pool for WSing. I also had a friend here in this zone who used a makeshift cold frame (a hole in the ground with an old window as a cover) to WS his tomatoes which are really a bit tender for this zone. I just sow my containers, and pay no attention to them throughout the entire winter. I assume some of them get completely frozen during the winter, so I never thought of moisture during freezing temperatures as important. At that time, the seeds are still dormant. I would give it a try.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:37AM
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Matthew Condon - Indiana.Matt - IN, Zone 5/6(Indiana Zone 5/6)

I have considered this myself. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. For my containers, I give them a little misting through the hole in the top when I don't see condensation in them. As long as there is condensation on the inside of the containers they are fine. I would think the cold frame would work the same. Make sure it's vented (all winter) and you might take a spray bottle and mist all the pots every few weeks. It's fine if everything freezes up...the ground freezes in many locations all winter long and the seeds in the ground in nature do fine. WS is just simulating nature in an environment where you know that the seeds in the soil are the seeds you planted. Just don't let your pots dry out completely, that's the key. And again, don't forget to vent the cold frame, you don't want the seeds to cook...they can! Think about how warm the inside of a car gets during a bright day, even in the winter. A cold frame can get much warmer than the inside of a car. Back to watering...I wouldn't go by the condensation on the inside of the glass in a cold frame. The moisture in the ground under the cold frame may evaporate up into the frame and condense on the glass and make you think there is enough moisture in the frame when, really, your pots may be dry.

Now, I have no experience in this, but I have given the cold frame idea much thought. I hope my theoretical ramblings help.
I would love to hear how it works out for you.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 9:51PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I agree with Matt that it should work as long as you vent and watch moisture levels in the pots. You can also use very large pots and put plastic with holes for rain/snow over the top to hold in moisture. Many seeds do not need stratification and could be sown directly into the ground of your cold frame or in large flats. I don't have a cold frame so don't know if starting the pots in the winter leaving the top of the cold frame open for snow/rain and then closing the frame as the weather gets above freezing, venting and watering as needed is possible. If you are concerned about creatures eating the seeds or knocking over your pots you could put a screen over the frame.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 1:23AM
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All good ideas here, lots to think about! I am going to try it for sure, and will post my progress to the forum here.

Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 8:04PM
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