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explain "winter sowing"

Posted by gailwrite 6KY (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 3, 13 at 18:26

Does "winter sowing" mean After Frost? Before Frost? late summer so the plants can actually sprout before frost? This is probably a dumb question, but I keep seeing the phrase and wondering.....


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: explain "winter sowing"

i believe there is a whole forum for such.. make sure you find it and use it ....

i dont do it... but my understanding is that many things need a cold period...

instead of putting them in your fridge.. you sow them and leave them out all winter.. and let ma nature do her thing..

many such pees do it in various containers.. to reduce seed eaters.. and keep all of one thing together.. so that when planting time comes.. they have segregated stock ...

frankly.. most of my self sowing plants.. are doing it all by their-selves.. right now.. as they are dropping seed... and those seed will be all over the garden next spring... if you think of this as winter sowing... then it shouldnt be too hard.. to understand the concept ....

one of the base failure.. of peeps who are new to it all .. and want to try seed growing ... is that they get spring fever and go buy packs of seed ... in may ... only to fail ... because the seed should have been started in march or april .. and by starting early.. IN WINTER... you get a leg up on doing it more in tune with ma nature's timing .. rather than when the seed sellers sell them to you ...

i am curious to see.. how far off i am.. in my understanding of it all.. but i have never been curious enough to go visit that forum...

ken


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

Yes, there is a whole forum for wintersowing, and you should definitely visit it. I've been wintersowing for about 10 years now, and would never start most seeds any other way.

Very helpful and friendly people on the forum, as well!

Dee

Here is a link that might be useful: WS forum


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

Self seeding plants are wonderfully easy, but they don't give us the ability to choose where they grow. Wintersowing is just a method of seed starting that allows for whatever cold stratification you need, provides adequate and consistent moisture, protects seeds from being eaten by birds and animals, and keeps seeds from being washed away by floods or buried in mud. It also avoids the need for "hardening off" fragile plants that are grown indoors, and prevents the common problem of "damp off" that kills so many indoor sown seeds. It also saves space and limits the clutter of starting seeds indoors. And it's really cheap.

Martha


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

Winter sowing is a method of growing annuals, perennials, shrubs, vegetables, trees, etc. from seed by sowing the seed in recycled containers that accommodate a sufficient amount of growing medium for root development. The containers are placed outside where snow & rain can maintain moisture levels that aid in germination. Low/freezing temperatures provide cold stratification for those seeds which require it in order to germinate. The cold does not impede the germination of seeds that don't require it.

While it's true a forum exists on GardenWeb, there's a full & detailed description of the method on the wintersown.org website. As for the success of the method, my garden beds are now filled to capacity with perennials grown via the method and I only discovered it by accident in November 2009. I successfully grew apple, pear & dogwood trees from seed via the method and all are as tall as I am this year, fully leafed out and the fruit trees are growing in a neighbor's orchard.

The traditional date to begin winter sowing each year is the Winter Solstice,
December 21 (or 22, depending on the year), when it's also traditional to plant something in honor/remembrance of Mother Nature, Life, Remembrance & Faith.

It's been my personal observation that plants grown via the winter sowing method are stronger, healthier and more robust than their nursery-grown counterparts whether grown in a greenhouse or via other traditional methods (i.e., indoors, under lights). In addition, seed germination rates explode exponentially with the WS method, up from 45-60% to well over 95%.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

I do it every January in milk jugs -- leave them outdoors in the snow and have jugs full of new plants every spring. I them cut the bottoms out of the jugs, pull out the solid seedling clump and cut them in 4-6 pieces. Then just plant wherever you want them to grow! So easy and so messing with doing it indoors.

The only things I start inside for the last few years are tomatoes and peppers -- they need a longer growing season and don't work well with winter-sowing in Z5a.

Check out the forum - you will be hooked!


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

for my purposes.. i think my definition was pretty good ...

what drainage is added to the milk jugs???? i cant imagine you just let the water accumulate ...

ken


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Drainage

Ken - holes or cut-outs in the bottom of the milk jugs allow excess moisture to drain away. Some, myself included, poke holes with an ice pick or awl; others cut drainage holes with a knife or box cutter.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

I use an old soldering iron to make lots of holes in the bottoms of the jugs. Ken, please check out the wintersowing forum and all your questions will be answered.

People use all sorts of plastic recycleables but I prefer the milk jugs because it is very easy to just cut the bottoms off when time to plant.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

I think "winter sowing" can in a general sense mean sowing in the winter - through various methods. Frost-seeding, for example, is direct seeding in late winter over the ground when there is no or little snow cover. The winter-sowing method that Trudi has introduced is generally the focus of the Winter-sowing Forum.

I love the winter sowing method, it works especially well for those seeds that need cold stratification, such as hardy perennials, shrubs and trees. Not only does it usually produce more seedlings than you can deal with, but it's very efficient and thrifty - use of recycled materials, and Mother Nature provides the resources such as water, light, and temperature control.

So there are little to no $ spent on materials, electricity, or fertilizers/pesticides, that are generally required with growing or cold-stratifying indoors. The only things I spend money on are the potting mix, some seeds, and a few minor items.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 3:45


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

Perhaps it is a silly waste of time to you, but to me it is a joy to spend some time in winter with my hands in the dirt, to sow seeds, and to enjoy gardening when it's 20 degrees and sometimes snowy outside. In addition, since I work three jobs, wintersowing helps me spread out the work of sowing my 225+ containers so I'm not going crazy all at once in spring.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 3:46


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

Seems like I'm not the only one who is taking things personally....

Never meant to imply that I am the only person who works - now THAT would indeed be silly - but just that since I am so busy that wintersowing throughout the winter helps me to enjoy seed-starting without having to do it all at once in the spring.

I was also just trying to point out that not everyone thinks it's a silly waste of time. We each and all have our habits and likes and dislikes and quirks, and that's what makes gardening interesting. But perhaps a simple "IMO" before such a statement would be a bit more gentle and would not appear to put down other's habits, likes, dislikes, quirks, etc.... I'm fairly sure that that was not your intention, but with the written word sometimes things can come across the wrong way...


Dee


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 3:47


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

I think the winter-sowing that was asked about is the 'Wintersown" method ---- the one the Winter Sowing Forum addresses. This whole thread has been pretty confusing simply because of semantics.

I winter sow about 50 milk jugs every Jan. and love the simplicity of it. It is a great way to dream of warmer days. BTW, I sow Lupin every year and have never soaked any seeds in water for 12 hours or peroxide. Sitting out in the ice and snow softens the seed coats very well, I suppose.

Also, the reason many of us addicted to this method also sow annuals which need no cold strat. is that it is much less messy than starting in pots indoors and the little guys come up at exactly the right time as nature intends. They are in nice disposable containers that make transplanting very easy. I have not bought a commercially grown annual for many years. No need.

My seeds come from trades so every summer and fall I save as many seeds as possible to trade for things I don't have.

The only thing I purchase is the starting mix (Promix).


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

in my z5 MI .... adrian by chance.. lol ...

POTTING MEDIA is one of the most important variables.. to getting potted plants to winter over ... as some potting medias retain way to much water in the freeze/thaw cycles.. favoring the rotting off of the roots of some intolerant plants ...

and that usually rules out dirt ...

it all about equalizing water retention with AIR ... of which a good potting media maximizes both ...

is media a significant variable..????

thanks for the invite ... i am not interested in doing it myself ...

but since OP asked for a DEFINITION/explanation ... within such.. delineating the IMPORTANT VARIABLES .... is usually the key to success ... and i am addressing those thru the Socratic method of asking leading questions ...

finally.. one thing.. well.. another thing .... that always puzzled me ... was how this all worked.. in e.g. my MI... where in a normal winter.. there is one to two feet of snow cover ... at which point... all these little milk jugs are going to be completely buried.. and totally frozen solid for 3 months or so ... you get the cold cycle some of the seed need ... but you arent going to get a lot of growth .... until spring.. so i wonder how the potted version get you all that far beyond just sowing them in the garden ....

my point being... though we have a multitude of wonderful peeps offering suggestions.. focus a little more.. on those who have equivalent situation ...

i guess you could sum that up... by defining what WINTER means ....

ken


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 3:48


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

The way I see it Trudi Davidoff innovated a way to sow seed that is clever and economical, can be implemented in winter or other times of the year if desired, and is easy for people to try - especially for those who are inexperienced or intimidated by the idea of growing plants from seed. She didn't monopolize the concept of sowing seeds in the winter.

Personally I sow seeds all year long and all kinds of ways. I am not married to any one technique, but like Trudi's method for its ease of use and effectiveness, and especially for seeds that require cold stratification. I also sow seeds in assorted containers (without covers) in Spring and summer, direct sow, scatter seed while I'm out walking in wild areas, have years of experience growing under lights, etc. Plus I love it when Ma Nature sows the seeds for me, and am always on the lookout for seedlings in the gardens or landscape.

Regardless of technique it seems the ultimate goal is to germinate seeds and end up with healthy plants.


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Winter Sowing

Sowing seeds that I harvested myself or traded with other gardeners here on GW allowed me to affordably stuff my own + my neighbor's perennial beds with healthy perennials in less than 3 years' time for no more than the cost of potting mix. I sowed the seeds in recycled containers in December, January & February of 2009-2011 & set them out on my breezeway where they froze, were snowed on & buried under. Around mid-March the first sprouts emerged. As the weather warmed and the amount of daylight increased, more seed types sprouted and grew. The first three pictures below show the results of my last (2011-2012) winter sowing success. Unlike some folks, I pot up my sprouts & allow them to grow on in pots until they're large enough to plant out.

Here are some shots of what my garden looked like after 6 years of effort. Except for the crabapple tree & the oval bed, none of what you see in these snapshots existed, including the fence & the brick, granite & concrete walkways.

I drove my P/U truck to the quarry & brought home the granite slab & uprights for the bench as well as the granite veneer for the patio in this shot.

Winter sowing opened a window that allowed me to achieve my garden goals affordably and far more quickly than would otherwise have been possible.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

Wow! From the looks of all those pots I would guess you have four jobs! You really have done a lot there and it looks like your hard work has paid off.

I'm not sure how this topic became a disagreement but I just want to say that if "winter sowing" is patented (which I really doubt... maybe there's some copyrighting on something, but a patent!?)... if it's patented then I'm offended that there's a whole forum promoting someone's "product".
I'm guessing the OP has gone over to the winter sowing forum to find out her own answer, but I just want to re-state that there's nothing new about sowing seed in the winter. Just like Terrene said, you can do it all year, and like Ken said whenever perennials drop their seed that's a fine time to sow the seed.... sorry if I put words in anyone's mouth....

I have plenty of leftover pots so don't bother with milk cartons, and usually just use a regular pot topped with a fine gravel to protect it from the weather. For fine seed I'll put a clear plastic tote over the pots for protection. I have cyclamen sprouting this week from seed planted in March, and I just planted some crocus and snowdrop seed that will sit through the fall and winter outside before sprouting in the spring (I hope). It's hard NOT to work with nature when you're starting seeds.
Starting seeds in itself can be a great way to get tons (too many?) of plants cheaply, just don't think you have to wait until some specific winter date to get started.

If you want to really get into sprouting trickier seeds google the Deno method for germination or look for it on youtube. Dr Deno researched about 5000 different species of plants (mostly as a retirement hobby) and self published (ie used his own money) to put out a booklet on what worked and what didn't. He later gave that research and a second edition to the USDA and allowed them to put it up on their website for free access for anyone.


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RE: explain "winter sowing"

delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 3:49


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