winter with no snow cover

ryseryse_2004December 10, 2012

I am in NW IL and last winter was my first failure with WS. It was because we had no snow cover and patches of very warm days scattered throughout the season. Many of my jugs sprouted too early and froze. Normally, we have huge snow falls and the jugs are covered with snow most of the winter.

I have a feeling we are about to experience a re-run of last winter's weather and wonder what I can do to prevent another failure. Any ideas?

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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

A few suggestions

1. Delay your WSing season. If you normally start on the solstice, consider pushing back your start date until late January.

2. Start with perennials. They tend to take longer to germinate, some need cold strat, and many can handle a little frost.

3. Don't sow annuals, especially tender ones, until spring or very close to spring. Most don't need cold strat, and they tend to sprout easier and faster.

4. In case of frost after tenders have sprouted, throw a blanket over them overnight. In case of deep freeze, put them in an unheated but protected spot, like an unheated garage, until freezing temps pass.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 1:15PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

What she said...


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:02PM
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rbrady(5/Eastern Ia)

Since we live in the about the same area I would also suggest keeping your containers in shade. This prevents the sun from warming the containers up too much and causing early germination.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:06AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I'm in northern IL too, and last year was difficult. I thought I had a fool proof location for my jugs that had worked great for the past four years. Up against a chain link fence for wind, and plenty of sun to keep them from getting too soggy until spring... when they would be gradually shaded by leafing out raspberries.

But as you said, last year with the total lack of snow and freaky long warm weather followed by freezes was tough. I tried attaching some landscape fabric to the fence to shade my jugs for the two weeks in mid to late March when it was up in the 70s and even mid 80s. But with those temps for that long not even shade helped. I also had to check them a couple of times a day for watering.

I had waited to sow my tomatoes and tenders until mid March like usual, but with those temps they sprouted in only a few days. Then the freezes in mid April forced me to bring them into the garage at night... and I still lost many. This year I might put my jugs in morning sun only and will definitely wait to sow tenders till mid April. Historically it isn't totally safe to plant tenders in the ground until mid May here anyways. If they sprout in mid April that would allow one month of growth prior to planting.

I hope it snows or even rains soon, the ground is still so dry! I don't even know if our sump pump still works or not, the pit is bone dry. I can't even remember the last time it ran. Don't want a repeat of last year.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:02PM
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Several things you can do to have a better chance at success, some of them smartly listed above.

More shade, less sun.

Much deeper and larger containers--shallow pans dry out fast, more depth and less surface area equal more water retention.

When you are above freezing temps set up a sprinkler on a spigot timer to water containers during midday.

Sow less containers, you have fewer to care for making you concentrate your chore time--less equals more. You have fewer to water, fewer to tend, fewer to transplant, it is all much less stressful.

Stick with wildflowers common to your region. They have the ability to weather the climate.

Delay sowing until mid-winter.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Gretchen Wood

Wow I really enjoyed everyone's input on WS. I want to try this with all the great ideas on what and where and how to do this more than ever now. I now have a garden shed and right now am upset that everyone including my husband thinks it is the perfect place to store their crap that belongs somewhere else. I will etch out an area and plan to start a small area to garden in there and try my hand at winter sowing too. Thanks for the great info.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 1:27PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Last year was a real challenge. It was so warm that I waited till late winter for almost everything. A warm day here and there doesn't hurt, but the week-long, unseasonably warm temps followed by a few cold days here and there really made me hesitate. Good suggestions from trudi, karen and rhonda.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 11:19AM
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