How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors

gwtamaraJanuary 1, 2013

Image by: gardenweed_z6a
Milk jug containers How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors

It really is very easy to do.

First, let me give you a little background as to why I sowed the seeds during the Winter. I live in a very small house, a cottage actually and I simply do not have room for a light set up, also any window space I have must be fought from the cat and "Prinny" likes to look out on the street and watch the world go by, so I have to give her a windowsill. She's a good cat and deserves her place in the sun.

I got hooked on seed trading, and as you all know seed trading is like gotta have 'em all. I had tons of seeds, I had them all. Though I am not a novice at gardening I am a novice at growing seeds, this was my second season doing so. Because of my lack of experience with growing seeds, and not having a light set up, I always traded for "easy to grow" seeds: I had to start them in the windowsill or out on the patio in flats during Spring and Summer which I did the previous year with good success too.

I was thinking a lot last Winter about how I was going to start all these seeds, I needed an easy way out. I knew that many seeds needed to be pre-chilled, and I knew that many plants reseed and germinate outdoors without our intervention. I thought about this for a few days and put 2+2 together. I would sow them into flats, and take them outside for the Winter, if all went well then they would germinate in Spring.

I am a true believer in "recycle and reuse". I had been saving my take-out containers from the Chinese restaurant (not those typical white boxes that have a metal handle and white rice inside), I was saving the foil pans that have a separate clear plastic lid, they're usually round or rectangular. These containers were just I didn't have to go to a store and open up my wallet (hmm, look at all the moths fly out), if I can get away without having to lay down a buck I will. I did need soil though and so I went to Walmart and got their brand which was the cheapest I could find.

Seed selection:

Take a look at a seed catalogue, most will have some sort of notation about a seed's germination requirements, or you'll pick up a few clue-in phrases. Look for these terms:

  • Needs Pre-chilling (freeze seeds, refrigerate seeds, stratify for x amount of day or weeks)
  • Needs Stratification
  • Will Colonize
  • Self Sows
  • Sow outdoors in early Autumn
  • Sow outdoors in early Spring while nights are still cool
  • Sow outdoors in early Spring while frosts may still occur
  • Hardy Seeds
  • Seedlings can withstand frost
  • Can be direct sown early
  • Wildflower Weed (such as butterfly weed, joe pye weed, jewel weed)

Look for Common Names indicating a natural environment:

  • Plains
  • Prairie
  • Desert
  • Mountain
  • Swamp
  • Field
  • River        Â

Look for names that might indicate an origin in a temperate climate:...

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