If you’re not already planting using the wintersown method — its not too late to give it some thought and get started.
It’s such an easy and relaxed way to start seed. You don’t need any expensive fancy equipment or lights. You don’t even need to make room in your house. Everything stays outside. And you can work along at your leisure.
If you’ve ever had to worry about seedlings damping-off —- you won’t have to worry using this method. Mother Nature’s fresh air and cold temperatures take care of it for you.
I have 42 jugs already wintersown. (I plant one or two each day.)
Already germinated are onions, numerous varieties of lettuce, mizuna, bok choy, arugula. Planted but not yet germinated are parsley, mache, verbascum olympicum, echinacea, chard, beets, kale, more lettuces, and more onions.
Freezing and Thawing?
Even before this arctic blast of air was upon us — we experienced below freezing temperature many nights. Jugs of the grow mix housing the young seedlings froze solid. They were frozen and thawed numerous times and still looked wonderful. The same thing happened last year. And even when temperatures dipped into the teens all was well in the jugs in spite of freezing and thawing.
Do they all Germinate?
Each year I’ve had a few jugs that the seed didn’t germinate. My guess is that the seed was not viable. In any event — 8 or 10 jugs that don’t germinate out of 125 jugs —- I’d call that pretty good odds.
Nothing Fancy Needed for this Miracle
All you need to accomplish this miracle is some grow mix, plastic containers you can punch holes in the bottom for drainage, and a lid you can secure. (Each container acts as little greenhouse.) Fill with moist mix, plant the seed, and secure the top making sure it has a vent. For more detail see my post You Can Plant in December.
What about Watering?
Most of the time you don’t need to worry about watering. Last year — out of more than 100 jugs of wintersown seed, I had to open, water, and reclose about 10. I think that was because I didn’t have the grow mix wet enough to begin with. (If you decide to water any of your wintersown — make sure you water only if dry. Too much moisture is just as bad as not enough.)
Cold Weather Crops and Hot Weather Crops
Although the method is called Wintersown — you can start all kinds of flowers and vegetables using this method. The only thing that changes with starting warm weather crops is the time you start them. Everything else is the same as with cool weather crops.
- From the winter solstice at the end of December through February and part of March — sow any vegetable or flower seed that needs pre-chilling, seed from plants that self sow, or that can be directly sown in early spring. In other words sow seed that will germinate well in spring temperatures if they are grown under normal conditions.
- About mid-March to mid-April start thinking about sowing your warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. Also any flowers that are warm weather lovers like zinnias. (This time frame is not written in stone. You might find you want to adjust these guesstimates as you have more experience.)
Warm weather seedlings usually need about 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting. If you start them too early you might have to be prepared to protect them a bit longer if the weather doesn’t warm up enough to put them in the garden.
Starting seeds is not hard or complicated in spite of what “marketing” makes one think. And you don’t need a lot of fancy-dancy equipment, lights, etc. Nature will perform the miracle for you. All you have to do is get things together and plant —via the wintersown method.
All this great success with little effort is a big confidence booster. Give it a try. I know you’ll do well and I’ll look forward to your report.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient —- and its a lot healthier.
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