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What to WS, and when

Posted by courtcourt 7A (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 23, 10 at 10:54

Probably better to ask the question this way. I know lots of you start your WS on the Winter Solstice, but what exactly have you sown through now, and what are you WS-ing in February and March? (For instance, in the other thread, it's recommended not to winter sow tomatoes until mid-March, which I would consider to be early spring, not winter. I'm not trying to be snotty, I'm just trying to understand.)

I know there are lists of things than CAN be winter sown, but it seems like there is a difference between what can be winter sown in the dead of winter, and what can be winter sown at the end of winter.

Does this make sense? I searched for information on when to wintersow individual things, but I can't seem to find anything. (Coming from the girl that has over 100 containers outside already, mostly perennials, with several spinach, lettuce, and chard containers, and am now worried that I winter sowed wrong...)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What to WS, and when

Don't worry! What you have sowed is perfect. We all start with perennials, cool weather veggies, and hardy annuals that self-sow in our areas. With you being in zone 7, you can start your veggies a little earlier than us in zone 5. I have already sown things like rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragons, dianthus. I will wait until the end of February before doing my frost-tender annuals. Welcome to the forum, and good luck!

RE: What to WS, and when

The veggies you sowed love cool weather so they'll be fine. Probably everything will be fine. And Trudi, who started the whole winter sowing thing, is zone 7 all the way up in Long Island and she sows her tomatoes in February. I'm zone 6b (SE PA) and have had volunteer tomatoes pop up now and then so yours should probably be fine.

Did you hold any seed back just in case some things don't germinate? This is the first year I'm going all out and I'm keeping track of what I planted and when so I'll have it for future use. This is a relatively new process (2000) and I think many, especially those of us new to it, are just feeling our way through it.

RE: What to WS, and when

The problem with sowing things that can't handle frost too early, is that you end up having to provide protection during cold snaps. Some folks throw an old sheet or blanket over the containers, some people move them to an unheated garage, etc. but if you just wait until close to your last frost date to sow the tender stuff, than you save yourself a lot of work.

Someone in zone 6 asked about sowing dates for veggies, and I said March - April for tomatoes, which is certainly appropriate for someone in zone 5 or 6. You are in zone 7, so you would be able to sow them earlier. I was giving the poster general guidelines for their area.

So it's not that you CAN'T sow the tender stuff early, but do you have time to babysit the fragile sprouts until you're past your last frost date? Truly, experience is the best teacher here. Each year that I wintersow, I fine tune my sow dates for what is best for my location.


RE: What to WS, and when

Okay, so I put out a couple of tomato seeds today, just to see what they'll do. I got a bunch of seeds from Trudi via the SASE program, one of which was a bag of mixed tomato seed, so I figured I'd go with some of those. I've got lots of seed reserved just in case I went gangbusters too early.

I guess my real question is, if they DON'T sprout during the next round of warm-ish weather, did I ruin them already, by putting them out too early, or is there a chance that they'll sprout during the NEXT next round of warm-ish weather, or the one after that? This is my first year doing this, so if I have to baby some of them as part of the learning process, that's okay with me, I'm just concerned that if I put certain seeds out WAY too early, that I'll ruin the seed before it ever has a chance to become a sprout in the first place!

I am definitely keeping detailed records about what is going out and when, what type of container it's in (I have a mix of newspaper pots, juice bottles, 2-liter bottles, and some blueberry and strawberry containers, styrofoam cups), and I guess I'll try putting out a couple of seeds of some veggies each week and see what happens. I'm just trying to figure out if putting the actual seed out too early is going to ruin it before it has a chance to sprout at all.

RE: What to WS, and when

No, the seeds will sprout when they are ready, putting them out early won't ruin them. It's the foliage that's tender, not the seeds themselves.

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