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Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Posted by midmented 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 1, 13 at 9:41

I tried winter sowing last year for the first time using gallon milk jugs. The pepper seed that I planted did not produce a single plant BUT the same saved seed (same soil) I planted inside germinated at around 90%. The jugs (and bus boy containers) were placed outside around the 3rd week of January (pictures: http://midmented.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/garden-status-saving-cauliflower-seed/). I'm not understanding what went wrong. Some of the bell peppers came up but all others did not.
I am guessing that they were sat outside too early. Is there a zone 6 schedule to follow on when to set the containers outside?

Here is a link that might be useful: DW®'s Blog


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Peppers can be difficult with this method, particularly bell peppers. I've had success with jalapenos, and I usually put them out in Feb., but bell peppers just don't seem to thrive for me this way. Ditto for eggplant, which sprouts, but then just stops growing.

It shouldn't matter when you set them out -- they won't come up until the conditions are right for them. This isn't really a way to get a jumpstart on the season, but more like an assist to nature by keeping your seedlings in place. It's also a way to grow from seed without taking up a lot of space inside and it eliminates the need for grow lights and hardening off.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Peppers are tender annuals in areas that get below 50 degrees. They Love warm soil and do best germinating in warm soil and warm air, or actually a bit warmer than house temp soil. My peppers get started on a heat mat with soil temps at approx 85 degrees. Hot varieties are the finickiest and pretty much insist on warm soil.

All my flowers however are Wintersown, and I have great success.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Thanks for the replies!

I've been all over the web looking at different blogs / forums reading about how other people winter sow. From everything I have read, most people in zone 6 have had their best luck by waiting until around the first week in March before winter sowing peppers and tomatoes.
I have 50+ milk jugs waiting for winter sow. Because of little space to grow indoors, I need an alternate method of starting a lot of tomato and pepper plants. Last year my tomato and pepper plants were not in the ground until June.
I might try a hoop house again but I can't monitor it as well as I'd like to.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW�'s Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Hmm, I winter sow all my peppers and tomatoes with great success. I *do* start them a bit later - end of March or so. Like caryltoo says, this isn't necessarily a "jump-start" method, so they will germinate when they are ready. My personal preference anyway is to sow a little at a time (6-8 jugs at a time, two to four times a week) so I can enjoy it all winter and into spring. So for me, waiting to sow the the veggies and herbs is bearable, lol.

Here in my neck of the woods, June is about right for setting out tomato plants. Actually, it was either last year or perhaps the year before that it was still rather cold at that time! I have a stack of soda bottle tops - well, I should say the top halves of soda bottles - that I put out over each tomato seedling if the temps are still cool. I take the caps off, pop the top half over the seedling, and that gives it a bit more protection. But the seedlings have been outside anyway so they are used to the weather, and I only use this if the spring has been unusually cool (in which case on cold nights I sometimes close the top half of the milk jugs loosely over the bottom half for those seedlings which are not yet planted out).

Dee


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I think I will start WSing peppers and tomatoes around mid-February, 4-6 milk jugs a week. We have a large area to plant this year (2 gardens).
The cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) normally does not do good until fall planting and I start them outside around the end of June. Cabbage seems to do ok as a spring crop but not as well as in the fall.
I've saved a few hundred seeds from last years Roma tomatoes and have around 50 Romanian pepper seeds left from 2011. I am praying that I can get a lot of both plants this year!

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Nice looking garden, midmented!

Wow, sounds like you do a LOT of tomatoes and peppers. How many seeds do you sow per jug? This year I am trying to restrain myself. I'm going to try to only sow a few (3-4) varieties of tomatoes and then only sow about 4 to 5 of each type. I always get carried away!

Dee


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

We end buying peppers at the nursery. Tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, okra do very well. I've noticed they must have full sun.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Usually I put about a dozen seeds per jug. If no one else wants the excess plants (which NEVER happens), I thin them out or transplant. I normally grow no more than 3 varieties of tomato or pepper and try to keep it at only 2. I save the pepper and tomato seed and have worried about getting a cross mix. A friend of mine ended up with striped yellow looking Roma tomato from his saved seed last year. He grew 5 different varieties the year before.
I used to buy my tomato and pepper plants UNTIL I saw some growing locally in a garden that looked awesome. They gave me a couple of tomatoes and peppers so I saved the seed from them. From then on, I never buy plants and start my own seed from produce I see grown in local gardens. It made sense only after I started saving local seed. Normally, I get double to triple the amount of produce from saving local seed vs buying from the nursery or buying from seed companies.
We tested germination rates of the seed saved from local gardens vs seed bought from local stores. A friend of mine has a small greenhouse and had an increase of 15% - 20% using local saved seed. The plants were a lot hardier and produced much better.
We plant squash, cucumber, and pumpkins from seed. We went the route of planting the plants but got much better results from planting from seed. The shock from transplanting slowed down growth so far that the plants from seed grew faster than the transplants.
Gardening: We learn what works by a lot of trial and error. Thanks to the internet, we can progress with a lot less failed attempts!

Thanks for all the comments!

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Yeah, I usually do about a dozen seeds per milk jug with my vegetables too (except for lettuce and spinach). This year I think I will just do about 4 seeds per jug. I don't even really need 4 plants of each variety, but I'm convinced that the year I sow only two seeds is the year I will get zero germination, lol. Besides, as you say, it's so easy to give away extra plants!

I have saved seed from a few things here and there but honestly for me it's just too much trouble. The harvesting, the storing, remembering where I put them, lol... besides, I can't resist the seed catalogs!

Dee


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

The hardest seed to save for me is tomato. Pepper seed is very easy. I've saved onion, corn, potato, pole beans, peas, pumpkin, cherries, asparagus, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Cole crops are difficult. I've never been able to get the seed. They never get to the point of getting pods.
Anyway, you should give it a try. I clean out old medicine bottles and take off the label writing the seed type on the bottle. I get so much better germination and more produce from my own saved seed than from anything else.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Interesting stuff. I usually do about 9-12 seeds per milk jug, and I'll probably start the perennials, lettuce and cole veggies in the next week or so, tomatoes and flowers throughout Feb. and March.

Midment, it's good to hear that I'm not the only one who can't get broccoli as a spring/summer plant. I've tried and tried and get almost no head formation. I guess it gets too warm too fast here. So sowing direct in June will get me a fall crop? Late June?

And ladyrose, you said eggplant does well for you? Do you do anything special when you ws it? I've tried a few years in a row and the seeds sprout but then just stop growing. It's pretty much the only thing that's been a total, time-after-time ws failure for me. Even peppers, which start off slow sometimes, usually do OK once it warms up and they're in the ground, but not eggplant. I usually end up buying a plant or two.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Yes, the cole crops do much better in the fall in this area. I plant the seed outside in bus boy containers around mid June and put wire mesh over the top. The squirrels like to dig in the containers and the birds love to snip off the little plants. This is a spring picture (http://midmented.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/img_1607.jpg) but an example (tried winter sowing in bus boy containers) of the containers with wire mesh. I don't put the plants in until late july. They grow really slow at first then really take off when the weather starts cooling off. Since you mentioned getting warm to fast, thats exactly why I switched to planting most of the cole crops in the fall. It seems the growing season is much longer in the fall for cole crops. They can take frost and keep on growing.
My wife wants eggplant this year so I bought some seed. I never grew it so tips are helpful!

A lot of my success and failures (but not all) are on my blog. I actually started the blog for myself as a diary and it has been very helpful in remembering a lot of things. I'd really suggest it to anyone wanting to keep a garden diary with pictures. Plus, it's free!

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I am on the cusp of zone 7/8. I sow my tomatoes in jugs about the last week in February and my peppers about mid March. I typically sow 3-4 seeds per variety and 3 varieties per jug for a total of 12-16 seeds. Once the seeds sprout I wait a couple of weeks, not necessarily waiting for true leaves, then I carefully transplant each seedling to it's own pot. I keep the pots in a semi clear storage container out on my deck taking the lid off/on as needed because my temperatures can swing like crazy in Spring. The tomatoes usually get potted up one more time before going out to the garden in early May, with peppers going out about the end of May. I have read over and over how difficult peppers can be but I have had incredible success with both tomaotoes and peppers using this system. *hope I haven't jinxed myself* I, too, have never found it difficult to find homes for any extra seedlings I may have.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Wow, Midmented, just looked at your blog. Your garden is amazing. My herb garden might become a raised bed this year. It's a long strip next to a fence, but it gets overrun every year. My husband keeps promising he'll frame out a raised bed there, but we'll see.

As for the openings on the milk jugs, I prefer the hinged approach. I just duct tape all around and it stays nice and warm with lots of condensation. Mine sit on the patio, and unless we get no rain or snow I usually don't have to water (well, maybe some of the smaller, quart size jugs). The 2-liter soda bottles work great, too -- just cut the top half off, plant then push the top over the bottom. No taping needed on those.

My problem this year might be the new dog -- we got him last June as a 1-year-old great dane that someone who knew someone we know couldn't keep. He wreaked havoc on the few pots of perennials I was nurturing, grabbing them and dragging them into the yard. I managed to rescue a few after I realized what was happening. I'm pretty sure he'll appreciate the handles on the jugs for easy carrying. lol.

Caryl


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

shellva: Based upon what I've been reading this forum a lot. I think I will be winter sowing peppers and tomatoes on the same schedule you mentioned above. Tomatoes, last week in February, Peppers, 2 weeks later. I am going to "hinge" the rest of the milk jugs I have to make it easier to work with seed / plants. I have 24 jugs already that are "non-hinged" and have another 24 jugs. Thanks for the tips!

caryltoo: Thanks for the compliment and tips! I went to raised beds after finding someone tearing down their 7 year old pool deck. Raised beds have a lot of advantages and I will probably keep making them as long as I find decent free lumber. :) I have a friend whom has a dog that likes to dig in the garden. The dog digs less in the raised beds.

Thanks for all the replies!

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Oh, if you are planning a raised bed, I bought a scoop of mixed half top soil with half mushroom mulch from a local nursery. I wait about 2 years before I add any serious amount of compost to it. Through trial and error, I tried a lot of different soil mixtures but for vegetable gardening, that seems to work the best. Economical as well. I think I paid $30 for the scoop and it filled a 30" x 8ft bed plus I had extra. I also experimented with different sizes of raised beds. A 30" to 34" inside width seemed to work best.
Anything wider and I was reaching in pretty far for any weeding or harvesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Midmented, your blog is a goldmine of info. Thanks for linking to it!


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Thanks, I try to post what comes to mind when it comes to ideas, success, failures, etc. I've learned a lot along the way and thought it was important to keep a decent picture diary as a record.
One very big lesson I've learned is not to use Miracle Grow. Since stopping about 3 years ago, I've had a greater success rate making my own compost.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Midmented, thanks for the soil advice. We're in mushroom country here so that's pretty easy to find. Haven't had a problem with the dogs digging, but then everything but the herbs are fenced.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I need to create good schedule for winter sowing different things at different times. Does anyone have a schedule they have (week by week) of when to sow which vegetable? Things I'd like to winter sow are: (Tomatoes and peppers I figured out), Eggplant, Marigolds, Cabbage, asparagus seed and onion seed.

Thanks in advance!

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I am enjoying your blog, too, midmented!


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I only have success with eggplants started inside and transplanted to large containers or pots. My eggplants have never been fond of the unpredictable swings we get in temp May and June. They definitely like it warm...


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Occasionally, I visit a local produce grower and get the chance to walk the fields with him. Kindly, he answers a few questions each time. Last year I noticed a row of eggplants that were growing very nicely but never asked what variety they were. Interestly enough, they were on the backside of a hill where they didn't get much early morning sun but from late morning on they did. I always thought they needed full sun but his were looking really good. I'll have to drop by early season this year and ask for a few pointers.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Talked to a few people today that have successfully had good germination rates WS pepper seed. They told me they used burpee coir potting soil which is available at Lowes at a good price right now. Evidently the difference is having a finer mix that holds together well so a lot of soil makes contact with the seed. It's worth a shot so I'll head over to Lowes tonight or tomorrow and get a couple bags.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I used coir last year and I am hooked! I did do an experiment with it. Make sure to mix the coir with seed starting mix/potting soil. For me, just straight coir had really good germination rates but then the plants stopped growing. The ones where I mixed half and half grew really well.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Darn, was just at lowe's yesterday, too. Now I'll have to make another trip to try the coir (and since it's right next to my gym I should be going there more anyway, lol). I'll also mix it because germination hasn't been my problem, it's getting them to grow afterward -- they just sit there at a couple inches high. Same thing happens with eggplant. Thanks for the tips.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Picked up 3 bags at about $3.50 a bag. It doesn't say coir on the bag but at the bottom it does say made from coconut fiber. Burpee Seed Starter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of bag


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Hello Everyone,

I just posted my first forum post a few minutes ago and then immediately came to read this and found my question answered as it related to the number of seeds I should use per container. The discussion here gave me a 'ball park' figure and I can go from there...right? Right. :D!

It also gave me a good idea of when to WS my tomatoes and peppers. I knew I wouldn't be doing them until later on but, based on what I've read here, my initial instincts were right in terms of waiting a little longer for those.

Anyone tried Scarlet Runner Beans...and, if so, what were your results? And timing?

Thanks for the help! Sowing begins tomorrow!

Blue


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

It was recommended that coir be mixed with potting soil to allow the roots a little more room to develop once germinated so I'm not surprised to hear that you had better luck with mixing it.

This year I really want to get a lot of sweet banana peppers growing. My sister said she used Mrs Wages bread and butter canning mix to make pickled sweet banana peppers to put on sandwiches. I'm a big Mrs Wages fan so I want to try the same thing. The only Mrs Wages mix we didn't like was pickled beets. It called for onions which overpowered the taste.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven't had a lot of luck WSing pepper seed but with everything I've learned from reading the WSing forum, my luck may change.

Here is a link that might be useful: DW's Blog


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

My experience is that peppers need lots of heat to germinate and with WS, that comes too late in Z5. I WS just about everything but for peppers and tomatoes, I start them indoors. Actually, I start the peppers indoors on a heat mat mid Feb. because they take a long time to actually produce peppers.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Hello Everyone,

I am new to gardening and WSing. I have about 20 containers out, a few varieties of tomatoes, several kinds of peppers, 2 kinds of beans and a 3-4 different flowers. Almost everything has sprouted in the last week or so. The ghost peppers and goose creek tomatoes are the only ones not sprouted yet. We are expecting what I hope is our last frost this weekend. I am so anxious to get these babies in the ground.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Love Winter Sowing. Started in Feb 2005. The first year read most of Jan on it and the biggest thing came across was they got way to many plants to deal with to plant. My main thing to WS is Tomatoes , poppies, Lettuce, Malvas, Hollyhocks. The first year sewed 36 different types of tomato seeds. I gave tomato plant seedling to every one I knew and mailed them everywhere in the USA. Here take a few doz plants was my thing that summer.

When some one tells me my seeds did not make it, only one thought comes to mind they came up and a frost hit the jug. I did not live near my jugs so if no news of a late frost my plants were doomed or had to drive 30 min back to the place they were sitting to cover them up with a blanket for the night or move them into my hay trailer. Mind you that was just the tomato seedlings.
I use horse blankets or a unheated hay room to store them in when they come up and finally gave up and just put them all in there each night and dragged out in the am. Only after they sprouted in March and April. Seems it takes like three warming trends to get them to sprout.

This year my milk jug collection is limited sadly so using clear 3 inch pots in a clear storage tub for my milk jug.
Also some large clear plastic containers that want to direct sow the tomato seeds and plant out. Love labels for these seedlings since many are special Heirloom types to save the seeds for next year,s crop.Broke down and bought a HOT CAP, that is a experiment for me too and it is just styrofoam cover, that made me think oh all those old coolers folks toss out can be used. Humm to self. One year had so many milk jugs made them into wall of waters for my crops so helped early plants with a towel dropped over them to keep freezing each night in the garden in April.
I would water the jugs daily every day unless it rained.
It can be done you just have to use some common sence with this.

ML


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

The picture below is of a milk jug I winter sowed on Feb 2,2013.
The sprouts are Goose Creek tomatoes and the empty side is ground cherry.

The Goose Creek are now about 8 inches tall and the ground cherrys are just now coming up.

I have several tomato varieties that are up and ready for the top to come off. I have two pepper varieties that have not sprouted but I am waiting patiently for consistent warm weather, I will wait 2 more weeks before I give up on them


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

I have a question for you more experienced gardeners. I have winter sown both hot and sweet peppers. They are just about ready to plant out. Can I put them in the same garden area or do I need to separate them ?


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Missy, I never thought about separating my peppers. My jalapenos and bells have always gone near each other. Not sure if that's a problem or not, but I wouldn't see why it would be.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Caryltoo,

From what I have found in different forums and such, its only a problem if you are a seed saver.

If you take a hot pepper plant and place it near a sweet pepper plant, each plant will produce the correct "vegetable" but the seeds in those pods may not produce the same pepper next year.

I am still researching and will accept any and all advice. I want to seed save, and have decided that those plants will be put in a separate container garden away from other peppers.


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

That makes sense, Missy. I'm planning on bagging some of my early tomato blossoms so I don't get cross pollination. It happened to me before and I was really disappointed when the seed I saved came up as some weird hybrid, and not a good one either.

If you don't want to plant separately you can always take precautions -- there's a good FAQ on the tomato forum on how to avoid crossing. It also gives info on how far apart plants must be to avoid cross-polliation. If I recall correctly the different varieties have to be pretty far apart. There's no reason their suggested methods shouldn't work for peppers, too.

Caryl


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RE: Winter Sown Peppers (Tomatos)

Wow, I didn't realize how long it had been since I've posted. LOL.
Peppers will cross pollinate. I had romanian and bell cross pollinate and saved seed from the romanian. The seed produced a bell type of pepper but with a thick wall and long body. I rather liked the outcome myself!

I hope I didn't make a dumb decision a couple of days ago. I removed the tops from my milk jugs that have sprouted to let everything out in the open. I have a roll of plastic and a fence around the winter sown containers (mostly to keep squirrels out) just in case I need to make a row cover quickly.
Took some pictures of everything that has sprouted and posted.

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sown Containers: Sprouted


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