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Who's ready?

Posted by gardenweed_z6a 5b/6a N CT (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 21, 11 at 17:25

The solstice falls on December 22 this year so there's just 31 days left to get ready for the 2011-12 Winter Sowing kick-off!! Are your jugs/containers prepped? Seeds sorted? Labels printed? Potting/grower's mix ready to go? I'd be lying if I said yes to any of those questions except the seed thing. I've been busy cleaning chaff from harvested seeds and marking the little salad dressing cups I use to store them. They're stacked six high & as many deep on the kitchen counter--Lobelia cardinalis, stokesia, columbine, Shasta daisy, dogwood, Japanese red maple, apple, Cupid's dart, turtlehead, hardy geranium, balloon flower and many more. I created a new spreadsheet to track this year's effort that I'm hoping will be less labor-intensive than past years' have proved to be. I added a feature that will automatically tally the number of jugs I sow, assuming I log them daily...accurately.

This will be year 3 for me to WS. I went way over the top in Year One with almost 500 containers. Year Two I cut that number almost in half.

This year I will sow considerably fewer as I'm focused now on tuck-ins and trees. The big storm robbed me of a great deal in terms of shade, including two of my mother's beloved dogwoods. I'll grow more of them from seeds I harvested before the storm as well as Japanese red maple to replace the trees down at the back that will need to be taken down in a year or two.

Who else is ready...or almost? Tell us what you've been doing to prepare! Is anyone stepping up to keep track of the container count by zone for the Zone Wars?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Who's ready?

Well, I'm getting ready. This my third year WS also and I can't wait to start again. I have milk jugs and soil but will need more of both - I'm waiting for returns from a couple of round robins (still time to join the WS swap!). I'm looking forward to sowing seeds of beautiful red lupine that I got from a certain enabler - I'll be sending good thoughts your way that your trees will grow quickly. Margie


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RE: Who's ready?

I am ready except for choosing which seeds to sow on Solstice. I enjoy thinking about those throughout December and making them special.

Friday I cleaned the garage and brought in potted plants to overwinter. DH carried a bag of potting mix to the basement as our garage is unheated. I have several jugs prepped and filled with mix, waiting for seeds.

Won't do many jugs this winter/spring as I will be recovering from knee replacement surgery. And I already have many 2nd and 3rd year potted perennials to find places for in my beds. Still want to do some annuals which will be winter sown mid to late spring.

Sorry to hear you lost so many trees, gardenweed. I miss the beautiful dogwood trees and their cloud of blossoms from when we lived in St. Louis, MO. The Japanese Maple I ws several years ago has been growing well. It winters over in my garage as well.


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RE: Who's ready?

I am going into my second year of winter sowing and I do have to get more soil but I think I have enough for the four to plant on the Winter Solstice. I cannot wait to start as it brings me peace and I have new kinds of flowers to try: Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower), Maltese Cross, Hosta and Blackberry Lily to name a few.

Like I've mentioned before, I've been prepping containers as I get them and I have two I have to do. Who knows how much I'll plant this year? I just love doing winter sowing no matter how many or few containers that I'll plant. :).

As for seeds for the Values: I'm not sure yet. I have lots of options. Oh and as a side note, if anyone has any extra butterfly weed seeds to spare, I'll take some. That's one of my favorites and I like to share the bounty :) (well that goes for all of my sprouts LOL).

Brad AKA Moonwolf


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RE: Who's ready?

I need to move into my new house, yet. Oh, and get married on Saturday!! And make apple/pumpkin pies for TG. It's always something.

But, seriously. My new house has a huge basement with bright lights and tall ceilings and tons of storage and work space for wintersowing. And also a huge, shady yard with far too much lawn. We spent 6 hours with multiple high-powered leaf machines and 5 adults with rakes and tarps removing the oak leaves from the lawn. I dug out a few favorite plants from the old house, and will try to find 30 minutes in the next few days to get them in the ground at the new place for the winter.

Winter sowing can wait until the snow is deep! But, I check in here every day to see how my friends are doing. This is my retreat from the stress. Hope you all are happy.

Martha
P.S. Brad, I have thousands of butterfly weed seeds. Are you looking for the orange, specifically, or would pink be OK? E-mail me.


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RE: Who's ready?

I've been thinking about it, and that's about all except starting to
collect jugs. I can't wait for the winterswap exchange that I should
get by the solstice. Time is going by so quickly this year, can't
believe the solstice is one month away. I haven't even thought about
the soil. I'm going to buy a pro-mix compressed bale because I
will need that anyway for my tomato and pepper seeds in Feb.

docmon, your a busy lady. Your lucky you can have basements.
I wish I had one, but that is not possible in this area. Our water
table is too high.


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RE: Who's ready?

This will be my first year. I have prepped I don't know how many containers - I lost count around 200 - though all are on the smaller side, mostly 1 litre soda bottles or 10 oz beverage cups. They are all stacked neatly in nursery trays or cardboard boxes in my garage. I've used up 3 bags of potting soil, and have 1 left in the garage.

Afew weeks ago I cut up all my mini blinds - they are stored in a small bucket with my paint pens.

My goal this week is to start organizing my seeds - figure out how many seeds I have and send seeds off to the newbie seed project, as well as to people who requested them from me.

Then I guess I just sit around and wait for the solstice.


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RE: Who's ready?

Gardenweed, check out Thornless Honeylocust. It is a beautiful tree that grows 2' a year. I have a source for the seed but will have to wait till August to collect again. I have 9, 2" trees for my daughter to plant in her massive field of a backyard. The canopy is broad and leaves are so tiny they get lost in the grass- no raking.

Moonwolf, the museum next door has a butterfly garden and I collected butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), orange, seed there. I will check today and see if there is still some to harvest and get you some if you still want it. Can I email you through GW?

As for WS I have prepped 90 jugs and have about 10 more to prep. I am sharing with 2 friends who are just getting started ws. Labels are made and seeds are ready. Still planning to find all the varieties of Penstemon I can get. I have my spreadsheet from last year but plant to make some changes. I haven't yet bought potting mix but around here nothing freezes and I will be able to get it all throughout the winter. It would be great to have a stockpile though. Last year I almost panicked when I ran out. My husband couldn't understand the URGENCY of getting more NOW! So anxious to do something I am making little seed packets from vellum and dividing seeds to share. Can't wait!


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RE: Who's ready?

Martha, I'll e-mail you about those seeds :).

Pixie lou, wow! Good job! I only did 75 last year (that's the grand total) and like I said, who knows how many I'll plant this year. It's always fun though!

Linda Jo, yes you can e-mail me through GW. Let me know about those seeds!

Brad AKA Moonwolf


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RE: Who's ready?

Thanks marjie - can't wait to see pictures of those red lupines! They sure are a welcome sight after a long, dark, cold, snowy winter.

mnwsgal - thanks for the kind words. It hurt to see the dogwoods snapped off the morning after the storm. That was quickly over-shadowed by 10 days without electricity, running water, etc. but still an ache in my heart. My mother really loved those trees. I'm SO glad I harvested seeds before the storm and can WS them to replace the two that were lost. I'll be growing apple, Japanese red maple, white-flowering dogwood and ornamental dogwood trees this WS season. The dogwood trees I WS the first time grew 30" tall this year. I overwinter them up against the foundation under the bay window in front of my (east-facing) house. Last winter we had 8 ft. of snow and the temp. dropped down to -19 degrees so I'm guessing they're tough enough even growing in containers.

Sending you warm wishes for a speedy recovery from knee surgery. Haven't done the replacement thing but even arthroscopic set me back a ways and put an end to my dance-teaching days.

Brad - I'm going to WS LOTS of Lobelia cardinalis this time for the hummingbirds. I harvested as much seed as possible from my WS plants and traded for every bit of it I could. Hope you have good luck with yours too.

pixie_lou - I guess I just sit around and wait for the solstice No way you can waste time between now and then! Get cracking, girl! Grab those paint pens and mini-blind stakes and write out your labels. If you have the seeds you have the names. The labels just need to remind you what the seed type is--a spreadsheet/notebook/garden diary can track the cultivar name, height, bloom color, bloom time, etc. I write a lot of my labels ahead of time so they're ready to stick inside the jugs/containers when I WS. I also recycle/re-use labels from previous years when I have multiples and only use one where I plant something HOS.

We gonna have SO much fun this WS season...I can just FEEL it (as she rubs hands together)!!!


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RE: Who's ready?

Gardenweed, thank you! I hope you get lots of Cardinal Flower(and other sprouts too!). I'm writing my labels ahead of time too. Usually the day I get a pack of seeds in the mail, I start writing labels for them :).

Brad AKA Moonwolf


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RE: Who's ready?

I'm almost ready! I got the soil. I just have to finish up my containers.


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RE: Who's ready?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Pixie Lou's comment about sitting around til the solstice was tongue-in-cheek. Even though the solstice is OUR big holiday, others seem to think other days around the same time have some sort of significance. And they seem to think they have to invite us to parties. And we have to bring gifts. Ooooh. How about giving seeds, soil, and instructions for wintersowing? Inexpensive, but heart felt and memorable, good for the environment, fun for kids, could teach them about the solstice and how important it has been to people throughout history--educational, even. Sometimes I amaze myself, LOL.

Have a great day

Martha


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RE: Who's ready?

Yes docmom, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. Though I do have 8 Nutcracker performances to sit thru, including 5 dress/tech/clocking rehearsals - so I will literally be sitting around a lot between now and the solstice!

And I am assuming gardenweed was being tongue-in-cheek when she said get cracking girl. Though I will admit I never thought to label my markers ahead of time.

But seriously - do people really do spreadsheets on this stuff? It's not enough to throw some seeds in a container with a label? If a seed isn't going to sprout, having it documented in a spreadsheet won't make it sprout. Maybe I'm just not that organized with my gardening. Maybe keeping track of what color tights, leotard, ballet slippers and hairstyle my daughter needs every day between now and December 23rd has shot my ability to be organized in any other aspect of my life.


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RE: Who's ready?

Pixie lou, some personalties just love spreadsheets! I have a spreadsheet for my budget, grocery list, Christmas card list, etc. I like to write down when I sow the seed then record when I see sprouts. If something is taking a long time to sprout I can look back and see it took a long time last year too. It might be that after everything has been sowed, it's something else to do with gardening. Not everyone wants or needs to do it. Maybe we're a little OC? From reading this forum I see that we all WS a little bit differently. Don't do anything that overwhelms or takes the fun out of it. Just have fun!


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RE: Who's ready?

Yes, that was a bit tongue-in-cheek but I find it does help to have the labels already done when it's time to seal up a WS jug/container. There's also a WS Sprout Chart on Trudi's wintersown.org website so I copied it down and replaced the seed names with the ones I WS my first year. I had zero expectations but was curious about what sort of germination I really ended up with and later was glad I kept track. It gave me facts/ammunition when someone questioned me about the method, including my daughter who challenged every basic step of the process when she decided to jump in and WS last year. There are still those who doubt that WS works. It just tickles me having photos and documented evidence to present whenever I get the opportunity.

If a seed isn't going to sprout, having it documented in a spreadsheet won't make it sprout. True, but I'll know the next time WS season rolls around that one gave me fits. Its name is Armeria maritima/sea thrift and I've had zero germination two years in a row. I'm either going to give up or dig in my heels and try, hoping third time's a charm.

I don't love spreadsheets and my daughter was never interested in ballet, but they have their uses. The one I'm using this year captures all the pertinent (to me) facts in one place plus I set it to automatically total the number of WS containers/jugs I sow. I stink at math.


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RE: Who's ready?

The first time I winter sowed I kept notes on my calendar of what I planted then marked when they sprouted. The next year I didn't bother because I had no need or desire to look at the notes from the previous year.

I've taken a few years off from winter sowing and have a new yard and lots of new beds to fill.
I might keep a list of what I have sown this year for making plans for our late spring plant swap,
but that's about it.

I might sown a few things (poppies and alysum maybe) mid December, but honestly Christmas takes priority here.

December is a little early for us down here in North Texas. We've seen 80* on Christmas Day and sometimes 80* on my birthday in mid January too! Then Feb hits us.. the longest coldest most miserable month of the year!

But I am getting all my stuff together, and got the seeds sorted.


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RE: Who's ready?

I'm kicking myself for not getting more potting mix when I had the chance. I picked up a couple of bags at Menards in the fall and they rang up on sale, but were not marked that way. I was in a hurry and thought I would come back for more in a couple of days. Came back and the whole pallet was gone! Me thinks another wintersower got them :) Now if I run out I will have to shell out for the much pricier stuff. Strike while the iron is hot!

Most of my containers will be reused from last year and are currently hanging from the garage rafters like a chandelier.

I kept records of seeds sown and germination dates the first year only. I also recorded all the plant growing info on the spreadsheet and just put the plant name on my tags. That led to a lot of referencing my printout with muddy hands come planting out time.

Now I look up plant info for the seeds online as I get them, bookmark the webpage, and write out all the planting and growing info in shorthand on the tags themselves. This helps immensely at planting out time. I paperclip the tag to the seed packet and file it in tupperware based on when I need to sow it (fall, winter, spring, or direct sow after frost). This makes the actual sowing process go much faster.

Most annuals that I am familiar with I just direct sow and don't bother with the tags...things like zinnias, sunflowers, nasturtiums. They also cross so easily that I don't bother keeping track of specific varieties to save seed from. Plus the birds tend to get most of the seeds before me.

For things I save seed from I make sure it is what it is supposed to be by comparing it to my bookmarked webpages. Then I copy and paste that info into a database that I use to generate my trade list and labels for my trade seed packets. That may be a little anal, but it sure saves time when you do a lot of seed swapping and donating. Plus I think it is nice for people to get a packet with the latin and common name with some growing info and year collected on it. Some of the seed I get in swaps I can't figure out what it is and have no idea how old it is.


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RE: Who's ready?

Pixie Lou,
I think I'm more like you and Melvalena when it comes to organization. Throw in the seeds and throw the containers outside. I only keep track of how many containers of each type of seed I sow, so I know what I might have too much of or not enough of yet. And for the Zone War. I don't even try to grow things that have a reputation for being difficult. I don't have enough emotional energy to waste on disappointment/frustration. LOL.

Martha


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RE: Who's ready?

Ready? The containers were all rinsed and stored months ago; bought a bale of Pro-mix about 2 months ago; most of the seeds that have been harvested are cleaned and stored, although there are a few more to clean. So I guess I'm pretty much ready.

I'll buy some more seeds during the winter and start sowing in January or so, as usual.

Pixie lou, yes some of us do spreadsheets. You should see the spreadsheets I do for quarterly and annual finances. I actually LIKE doing winter-sowing spreadsheets and organizing my seeds and plants, unlike most of the drudgery of the rest of life.


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RE: Who's ready?

I'd like to jump in here and comment on my progress.

My living rm and kitchen has been taken over with making containers. It's pretty much the primary thing on my mind. I have only 14 see-through milk jugs that are washed. I am holding on to the ones that are white, they might come in handy but I doubt it. I made 3 of those to completion, Oh well.

I just went out collection milk jugs and pop bottles. I just finished washing them all and taking off the labels. I collected about 10 2 Liter pop bottles.

In addition to milk jugs and pop bottles I have 4 roaster pan containers, a pretzel container and misc. I found plexi-glass to be useful for tops of a couple of the roaster pans. I have a drill and am drilling holes in everything.

I have enough soil for now and quite a bit stocked up. I have 3 huge containers with different mixes. I'm using a gritty mix on the bottom of the containers to use what I have (from my succulents) and strecth it out. I believe drainage is of utmost importance.

I too have made spreedsheets and have 26 different seeds sorted and placed in containers. I printed out labels and think I'll use clear tape over the labels to keep them water proof.

At this point I'm going to keep collecting milk jugs, as I am a little behind because I thought my Almond containers were going to be easy to work with but they are not.

I will make as many containers as I can right up until the last day.

-----A GARDENER'S WORK IS NEVER DONE-------

Micki -- 1st yr WS and loving it,
now I can continue my obsession for gardening right through the winter, it's fabulous!!


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RE: Who's ready?

Have the soil, seeds. Containers not so much.


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RE: Who's ready?

I'm still peeved that you can't just go and buy pro-mix here. I spoke to the local farm store, they said they could get it in, but need to order more than a bale or two and I just don't need more than that! So I'll have to do a large soil run very soon.
Since I have been WS in plastic salad boxes for several years, I'm glad to say they are ALWAYS ready! In spring as I plant from them I just wash the containers, then store them in a big plastic bin under the house. Makes things so easy. When we used milk jugs we would string them on string and hang the string from the rafters in the crawl space.

I do have many seeds already. I saved so many from last year that I have quite the arsenal ready to go. I'd love to trade more. Trading has been very slow on the trading forum.
This will be my 10th year winter sowing!

GGG


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RE: Who's ready?

I am starting to get ready. I picked up 47 gallon milk containers from Starbucks this weekend but have almost 300 varieties of seed already numbered. Need to cut the mini-blinds and get them ready. Last year I was really excited about winter sowing since I always use the greenhouse and of course it is more expensive with the lights, etc. I also was somewhat dissapointed in the results since alot of the containers never grew any plants in them. It was probably a lack of knowledge on my part as to what to winter sow. Not sure that I will be ready by the end of December to actually sow, but definately in January.

Ellie


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RE: Who's ready?

  • Posted by lois PA Zone 6 (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 26, 11 at 23:20

I'm ready. I collected and saved the used potting soil from last spring's seedlings, and had enough for about 6 jugs. But I also went out and got a couple bags of potting soil. Sowed some foxglove today just because I was getting impatient. Waiting for some round robin packages to arrive in Dec, and then I will get started!


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RE: Who's ready?

Micki, I think your enthusiasm is very fun. I was also a looong time gardener and have been starting plants from seed for 25 years. But something got unleashed with Trudi's easy and fun sowing method and I started sowing much more than ever before.

Re: drainage. In containers I agree this is very important. However, I don't think it's such a big deal with winter-sowing, and this is because the seeds/seedlings usually don't spend more than a few months in the containers. Using your average soilless mix seems to work fine.

GGG do you have Ace Hardware where you live? I order a bale of Promix at the local store, and they have it shipped from the warehouse at no extra cost.

Lois, I would be hesitant to start anything from seed yet, we are having such a mild fall they just might sprout!


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RE: Who's ready?

  • Posted by lois PA Zone 6 (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 27, 11 at 13:03

terrene, you are right, we are having a very mild fall... But I have lots of foxglove seed, so if it doesn't work, there is no real loss. Besides, it will be interesting to see how tough the seedlings are if they sprout. I would not try this with any seeds I didn't already have a lot of.


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RE: Who's ready?

This really is becoming the story of bizarre weather temps all over the country and Terrene is correct to be concerned about starting seeds now and getting germination from them.

Back in 2008, we had a very, very warm January here in MA. Friends who are WS and live one town over from me, which makes them just into the line of zone 6 in MA, had started WS their seeds in Dec.
By the mid to end of January, they had germination in many, if not all of the containers, both annuals and perennials.

Not sure what to do with them, they brought a few of them indoors for the rest of the winter and the rest, well they left them to the whims of mother nature.

Of course, being that this is New England, winter finally arrived in February with it's normal vengence and temps and the rest of the WS continued.

Come spring, the seedlings brought indoors didn't survive the winter, too dry etc in the house and everything left outside didn't survive either.

Just to be safe, the same seeds where also WS by me and redone by my friends in Feb and March, so we still had those seeds germinate.

It did teach us a couple of huge lessons that winter.

At least in New England, Zone 5 and 6, starting to WS too early is a huge risk to take and too early means before the end of January.

First to second week in February is enough time for cold stratification of seeds here and the risk of too early germination and loss of seedlings if that happens, will not happen if started in february.

The difference between when seeds germinate if started in Dec and all of January vs. waiting till the first 2 weeks of February, is statistically non existent.
The 4 years prior to WS 2007-2008 vs WS 2007-2008, germination was either within the same week or the following week.

So, my WS never begins before the first week in February and by the end of the second week, all the perennials are done and outside along with my cleome seeds, and annual that has far better germination rates with a cold stratification.

So, being that this is year 9 for me WS seeds, there are no plans for any changes in when I start.

I also don't prep any containers long before I start sowing my seeds either. I do all of that when I actually WS my seeds.

I also don't use gallon jugs or tonic bottles either. I found them to difficult to use, carry, move around and my germination rate was not as good as with other types of smaller containers that have always worked well for me.

That's the fun and learning experience with WS. Adapt and use what works for you, and others do the same.

I also use Miracle Grow potting mix and wouldn't use anything else. I've had 100% to near 100% germination every year and plant out using it for 8 years and I'm one that goes with "if it ain't broke, don't fix" belief and have had no problems with the bags of soil either.

But as I said, WS is adaptable and that's what makes it work so well. It is always a learning process from year to year and sometimes, some things grow better than other years and there is just no reason for it other than it just happens.

Being that we are gardeners and no matter how we look at it, how we start our seeds, what we use, and what we do, we are still at the mercy of "mother nature", we just have to "go with the flow" and try our best to deal with what she throws at us.

Patience is the key here, especially this year, and it appears that patience is gong to be needed before we start any WS, so that we can try and avoid seeds germinating too early.

Trust me when I say, winter will come, cold will come and stick around for a while and the snow will fall and plenty of it will fall.

Fran


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RE: Who's ready?

Newbie here. Can you tell me what the significance of beginning on the Winter Soltice? Is it merely ceremonial? I wasn't planning on starting until January, due to the holiday craziness. Is that okay?


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RE: Who's ready?

Yes its ok to wait until Jan. I always have.


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RE: Who's ready?

patchworkfarm - The significance is that this is called "winter sowing" and winter begins on the solstice. If you sow your seeds on December 20th, then you are Fall Sowing. And if you wait until March 23rd, then you are Spring Sowing.


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RE: Who's ready?

Pro -mix - check
Containers - check (reuse milk jugs and salad containers from year to year, holes already in since first use)
Seeds - check. Although I will never sow all the seeds I have in a life time! Need to get a newbie package off to Bakemom.

Next step for me is sitting with seed packets and making venitian blind labels for inside the container and foil tape labels for outside the container (you can do this in advnce with foil tape cause it has a backing)with a paint pen. I line up this set of three (inside label, outside label, seed packet)grouped together in a long narrow tin box I have, trying to arrange perennials first, then biannuals, then annuals, cause thats how I'll sow.

But the holidays are here and label making and sowing won't get started till after new years for me. Just no time. I am in "bead" mode instead of "seed" mode in December - making jewelry for christmas gifts.

Nancy


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RE: Who's ready?

I admit to being a spreadsheet lover too. It's about the only thing in my world that's nice and organized ..lol. I do a new one each year, and it's nice to look back on and see how long certain types took to sprout, also for knowing if I got zero or very lil germination that pack of seeds might not be worth saving til the next year, keeping track of the ones that need a cold/warm/cold etc cycle, it also helps me keep track of my container numbers and from going crazy and planting too many..

NAHHHH! jk.. nothing could keep me from doing that! Go big or go home! lol


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RE: Who's ready?

Ok. The wedding is over and we're moved into the new house. Still have boxes strewn from here to heaven, but we're settling into a routine. I just stopped at Lowe's, with a gift card we got from a co-worker, and bought two 64 qt bags of MiracleGrow potting mix. I was able to snag several extra milk jugs on recycling day, and I've begun saving all the jugs we use at home, as well. My new hubby picked up a roll of foil plumber's tape (for plumbing, of all things!), and I've located all my seeds. Now, I have to decide what I can realistically grow in my shady nature habitat.

How destructive are wild turkeys to a shade ornamental garden? I think I'll start a new thread.

Martha


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