When we first started ‘farming’ at a community garden, we purchased our plants at home centers and nurseries once the garden was ready for planting. Last year, we decided to grow our own plants from seed in order to have more variety. I have tried starting seeds indoors in the past with little or no luck. They either dry out too much with the heat or stay too moist and get moldy. I needed an easy, fool-proof method that doesn’t demand so much attention.
We picked up a gardening magazine last winter, which had an article on winter sowing. It was something I had never heard of, but sounded easy enough and made sense. Plant the seeds and stick them outside in mini greenhouses. They will germinate when the conditions are right. When they grow large enough for transplanting, they are already hardy and ready for outdoor conditions. We decided to just go for it and tried this with several plants last year with very good luck. We have greatly expanded our options this year and look forward to sharing our seedlings with friends and neighbors.
This winter, in the darkness of the post-holiday blues, we began our search for vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. In January, we planted cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, corn, onions and one of my absolute favorites…..lavender.
In February and early March, we planted some native woodland perennials and a few annuals including Canada lilies, blackberry lilies, Virginia blue bells, Dutchman’s breeches, ramp or wild leeks, Celedine poppies, Icelandic poppies, Oriental poppies, columbine delphinium and two that bring back great memories. Jack-in-the-pulpit reminds me of Brownie and Girl Scout hikes in the woods, while Hollyhocks remind me of my grandfather and grandmothers’ house. Their alley was filled with hollyhocks in so many colors.
I can’t wait for April. That is when we will start the tomato, cucumber, squash, and pepper seeds.
List of supplies:
Very simple instructions:
- Drill or poke holes into containers. You need several drainage holes on the bottom and also holes on the lid to allow water to enter your mini greenhouse. You can recycle old food containers, but we find Rubbermaid containers are sturdier, making it easier to transport seeds from home to the garden. We clean and re-use.
- Fill the container with 2-3 inches of seed starting soil.
- Distribute seeds and cover with seed starting soil. Don’t bury the seeds to deep, just a light covering (about 1/2-inch).
- Water or place in tray with water, so soil absorbs water through drainage hole. Replace lid and place in a sunny spot.
- Patiently wait for the seeds to germinate. If moisture is not accumulating on the lids, you will need to water.
- Once spring arrives and the seedlings start to grow, you can remove the lids during warm days. Be sure the lid is replaced to protect them from cold night time temperatures and risk of frost.
- When the plants grow too high to fit into the container it is a good sign they are hardy and ready for transplanting into the ground.
Step 1: Drill holes in tops and bottoms of mini-greenhouses.
Step 2: Collect soil, seeds, and signs.
Steps 3-5: Distribute seeds, cover with soil, and water.
Step 6: Wait for seeds to germinate and open to allow them to get comfortable with the weather. Close at night if it’s cold.
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