Winter Sowing Vegetable Seeds

gardening tips
I have the winter blues!  I decided to start my vegetable seeds over the week-end.  Planning my garden takes the blues away and gives me a head start with strong, healthy veggie plants.  Last year I used heating mats and grow lights.  I had a 90% germination rate, but it takes lots of time and space to nurture the seedlings.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

This year, I decided to try winter sowing.  I’ve been saving plastic liter, juice and milk bottles.  Anything that I can cut and punch holes in the bottom for drainage.  I started about 20 bottles over the week-end.  Tomatoes, dill, zucchini, squash, sunflowers and petunias.  Tomatoes, dill and petunias reseed and grow.  Research showed that the squash and zucchini will also do well.  l will continue winter sowing through-out February.  I’ll do a few tomatoes, cukes and green beans inside.  Just in case I don’t have a successful germination rate from the winter sowing; however, gardeners swear by this method.  I’m sold!

 

If you’re wondering how I create these miniature greenhouses, here it goes.  Wash your bottles in hot soapy water and rinse well.  I used a box cutter to cut around the bottles.  Leave an inch on the bottle for a hinge.  Add drainage holes in the bottom of your bottle.  To accomplish this, I use a glue gun on the milk bottles.  However, I was unsuccessful using the glue gun on the liter and juice bottles.  The gun wouldn’t penetrate.  I used the box cutter to make slits on the bottom.  If you have another method of punching holes, bring out your equipment and punch holes in the bottom of your bottles.

First, mix your seed starting mix as directed on the package.  I use warm water when mixing the soil Mix it thoroughly.  You want it wet; however, not soggy.  Next, add 2 – 3 inches of the mix to the bottom of each of the bottles or container.  I use Miracle Gro Seed Starting Mix, which I purchase from Tractor Supply.  It’s a little expensive, but I have a great germination rate each year with the mix.

Second, place your seed on top of the soil and cover lightly.  Wrap the bottle with duct tape.  I purchased my duct tape from the dollar store.  Mark the bottles with a permanent marker, which I also purchased from the dollar store.

You can discard the bottle tops.  I moved the bottles and containers to the deck to ensure they get rain. Let them go until spring.  At that time you should have sprouts that will need water.  As they grow, you will have to remove the top of the bottles.  These little babies will already be hardened off, which is a step you will have to take if you start seedlings indoors.

Stay tuned for additional posts on winter sowing.  Finally, if you are a gardener and use the winter sowing method, please share your experience.  You may also like My Winter Sow Seed List.

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