sowing vegetables before freeze?

little_minnie(zone 4a)October 21, 2011

I have done a little winter sowing but I am an experienced and professional gardener otherwise. Would these ideas work?

I am planting garlic next week and I would like to seed some Walla Walla onions nearby. I was hoping it would start up quickly in spring. Does that work and what about straw mulch that would be on the garlic? Should I mulch and then remove the straw in very early spring from the onions?

Also plan on throwing down some spinach and lettuce seeds and making a straw bale and old window coldframe. I was hoping it would also get the seed off to a really early start. Would this work? I was thinking of leaving the window tilted off to let the snow cover the area and then putting the window on in late winter to heat it up.

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If you would put your location or zone in your personal info you would get better info, but here's what I'd say if you were in my location...

I would try the Walla Walla seed, winter stratification can really help out onion seed, especially if it isn't fresh seed.

As for the lettuce, I'm already harvesting my fall crop which was sown July 26. I would save the lettuce seed and sow again in March, if sown now it would be subject to runoff or being eaten over the winter.

I tried a bale straw coldframe with window one year to start a bunch of rose cuttings. I did not see an appreciable difference in the rate of rooting between the cuttings in the bale coldframe and those planted in the garden. OTOH it was nice to be able to brush the snow away and see the cuttings when nothing else was green.

A lot of these questions might be better answered in a vegetable garden forum. Winter sowing, at least to me, is more a form of container gardening in a winter setting for the purpose of germination. What you are discussing is direct sowing, and even though you are sowing in winter, it doesn't really fit the parameters of what most people mean on this forum when they say "winter sowing".

I hope that helped.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 7:02AM
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I plant my garlic now - I usually target Halloween. Then I add about 3-4" of shredded leaves on top of the bed. I have mine in a raised bed.

As for the spinach - This week I will finish cleaning out my vegetable gardens. After pulling out the old plants, hoeing the soil and stirring in some fresh compost, I will scatter spinach seeds. Then I will add a fresh layer of compost on top - maybe an inch. The spinach will sprout in the spring. And I will enjoy fresh spinach for most of April and May.

As for lettuce - I direct sow seeds in the garden as soon as the snow is gone. I do have some extra lettuce seeds from this years planting, so I do plan on trying some lettuce in the same manner that I do my spinach.

I have never grown onions so I cannot comment.

I'm in zone 6A - right outside Boston. Your mileage may vary.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:08AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Can I ask why you do spinach like that and not lettuce. I will try both and see. I have a small CSA and market operation and always want to have produce to offer early- even by May.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:57PM
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Pixie Lou, thank you for answering a question I had about planting garlic now. And I didn't even have to ask! I planted mine (first time ever) a couple days ago in the same container (whiskey barrel) that my first tomato plant still lives in. I planted the garlic around the perimeter of the barrel. I plan to chop up the tomato plant when it's done and incorporate it back into the soil, in the center of the barrel,(so-as not to disturb the garlic), then next year start another tomato plant in there. I hear garlic is a good companion plant for tomatoes, hope I heard right. ;)

Off to the showers to get ready for work now, have a great day all! :)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 6:30AM
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bev2009(6 IN)


I don't believe you want to put the tomato plant back into the soil. The plant can harbor disease that would then spread to the new plants in the future. Actually, you don't want to plant a tomato plant in the barrel again for another 3-4 years. Check out 'crop rotation' online. Tomato blight is one problem you can create by planting in the same location too soon. I don't compost my tomato plants, but throw them into the trash instead.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 10:07AM
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little minnie - gosh, i really have no idea why I've only planted spinach in the Fall and not lettuce. I guess I read somewhere to do that with spinach. Whatever I read obviously did not mention lettuce! So I've done it with spinach, making a point to buy extra packs of spinach seeds in the Spring to save until Fall. I'm only going to try lettuce this year since I have left over lettuce seeds from this years plantings. If it works with the lettuce, I'll fall sow lettuce from now on as well.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Bev2009, oh wow, really?? I've been misled into believing that tomato plants do well, not only with lots of organic matter (which I'm sure is true), but that some of that matter actually *should* be old tomato plants tilled back into the soil in which they grow. So, I should rotate every year, and not like every 2-3 years? Ok, then I'll turn that whiskey barrel into an herb garden next year. I do know that the plant out there now is disease-free, it's very healthy looking; thick stems, no leaf problems, no bugs have gotten to anything. But, I should still toss it when it's done? Ok, I can do that. I'm not *sooo* addicted that I can't bear to toss out *any* plant. heeheeheee And besides, I've got a new area to plant next year's tomatoes in; it's already tilled, compost and lime (for calcium) already worked in. I am ready-Freddy for next year! :) I'll yank out that old plant from the barrel as soon as I pluck the last tomato from it, and a BIG thank you for the info!

In case you were wondering where I was misled from, it was from a book called 'Tomatoland...' about the effects of modern industrial agriculture on tomatoes. It was a cheapie for my Kindle. ;)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 8:24AM
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