Winter Sowing in Flats (ran out of milk jugs)

ocelaris(7a)December 2, 2013

So I'm starting my first attempt at winter sowing at this new house and I need many more milk jugs than I have. I spent the last year ripping out the old shrubs and planting a new kentucky blue grass lawn, putting in sprinklers and irrigation for perennial beds, and now I have about 50 different varieties of Perennials, somewhere around 500 plants and/or "plugs" that I'm hoping to get out of this.

So I've been saving Milk Jugs since Rhonda on here sent me some seeds, and only I drink milk (at the moment just the wife and I, we're a young couple), and there is no chance of me drinking another 35 gallons before now and january... So either I buy water jugs and dump them out, or do a flat method. I've bought seeds started in "deep" flats before and they had great root systems, so I thought that would be a good fit?

Basically it would be a "1020" standard flat tray, then 5" deep plugs (2x2x5" WxLxD), and a 7" dome on top. I believe that would accomplish most of what a milk jug would do no? Basically this is just to supplement my milk jugs, and as 50 milk jugs in the front south facing yard would look quite unsightly, the trays would please the neighbors/wife as well...

I'm concerned that the 1020 tray (bottom part) would leave a gap below the 5" "plug inserts" part, and possibly dry out the plugs... I'm happy to seal these with some saran wrap or whatever, but basically I need to raise 500 some plants and this seems like a more organized fashion to to it. Let's just assume that I have no other source to "reuse" containers, we just don't buy stuff in plastic containers often. So I need to purchase something, even if it's just the plain old regular seed starting flats with 2" dome that's fine, I just thought these might be a bit better...

Thanks, Bill

Images link to the product page...

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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Each year I sow many of my tender perennials and annuals in flats. The long rectangular under the bed type of containers work well for these. Holes are drilled in the tops and bottoms for drainage and air/water. It is easy to move flats in and out of the container as needed.

I and others have collected containers from community recycling centers. Ours are gated and locked except for posted hours and I ask for permission to remove containers.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 2:46AM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

I used trays of 2.5 inch pots and also gallon nursery pots. More details in the linked photos.

Gotta watch moisture levels. in the smaller pots, ProMix worked way better than MiracleGrow (which didn't retain moisture as well). My carrying trays for the pots all had good drainage, and the I had the over bags clipped in a way that let moisture get in but kept it in once it got there. Still had to water a bit during dry times (like when we'd get those weird dry heat waves in the middle of winter!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter sowing in nursery pots

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 1:55PM
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river_crossroads z8b Central Louisiana

lgslgs/Lynda, wow, you work hard. Where do you get those nice plastic bags? They look bigger and heavier than ones that I can buy at the grocery. I see the sweater bags but it's the other ones, of course, that I am asking about. I want some! Thanks

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:38PM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

Hi River-
I bought a case of bags from Uline. Link below - not sure what size it was that I bought, but the flat base of the bag is just a bit larger than my trays.

Here is a link that might be useful: gusseted bag

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:44PM
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river_crossroads z8b Central Louisiana

Hi lgslgs/Lynda,

Wow, you are fast, too. Thanks for the info!!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:56PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I've done wintersowing using foil roasting pans as "flats". Not the big turkey roasters, but smaller (about four inches deep, maybe 18 x 12 inches, and they come with a clear cover). I got about 4 or 5 seasons out of them, with care. Might be a cheaper alternative than the "official" nursery-supply flats.

Also, if you have a freecycle group near you, post an ad for milk jugs. I had several people in my community supply me with jugs a few years running. And don't be shy about taking a walk on recycling night! Just bring a length of rope or twine with you and gather milk jugs as you walk!


    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 8:44AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

LOL, Dee. I take a drive around the neighborhood sometimes either the night before or the morning of recycling day. It usually yields a number of gallon containers (although I did have to ask my sister to stop crushing hers :) and 2L soda bottles, which are very easy to use as well.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 6:02AM
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I am going to try that this year with my petunias. I always have them self sow in my summer containers, but I never know which seedlings are from which plant. This year I've collected seeds in the fall to sow into open containers separately since they seem to grow better for me that way. My WS closed container grown petunias where behind the open sown ones and never did flourish.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 2:13AM
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spartangardener(z4 MN)

I've had good luck asking my local coffee shop to save milk jugs for me. I made arrangements to pick up milk jugs at the end of the day each day for a week, and I got enough milk jugs to cover all the sowing I planned to do.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 3:44PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

Awesome ideas! Thanks to everyone for sharing their creativity and ingenuity! Much obliged....

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:03PM
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At the end, I had 22 milk jugs, and 10 flats of 36 spots each, planted about 17 milk jugs today and 7 of the flats. Waiting on a few more seeds, but cross my fingers, first time winter sowing.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:42PM
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