This is the article I am submitting to the library for the newsletter.
Winter Sowing is a fun, easy way to start your own plants from seeds for just pennies! Just about anyone can do this because you do not need expensive materials or technical supplies to get you started. This is also a great way to get your kids involved in gardening and chase away cabin fever.
Basically, winter sowing is a method of germinating hardy seeds is a semi-controlled manner using Mother Nature. Most gardeners that use this method, start sowing their seeds right after the Winter Solstice and keep on sowing seeds until mid-February.
Winter sowing is perfect for perennial seeds that need cold stratification (a chill period) or for any seed (annual or perennial) that reseeds itself. Basic materials include clean, recycled plastic containers such as old soda bottles, milk jugs, cool whip containers or some other plastic container that has a clear lid. You will also need inexpensive potting soil, seeds and a good permanent marker.
Start by cutting small drainage slits in the bottom of your plastic container (if you’re using a milk jug or soda bottle….cut bottle in half before you begin). Using a permanent marker, label your container with the name of the seed and the date. Put some soil in the container to about 1″ from the top. Soak the soil and then let it drain. Next, sow your seeds to the proper depth. After you’ve sown your seeds, take the top of your container and cut slits for air flow and watering. Then snap or tape you lid in place. Your container is now ready to go outside for the winter. Put it in a safe place where critters, family pets and children aren’t likely to tear into it.
You can make as few or as many containers (mini-greenhouses) like this as you want. It is extremely easy to take care of the containers over the winter because nature is doing most of the work for you. Check them occasionally to make sure a lid hasn’t come off and that the soil in the container is still moist. The natural effects of nature will stratify your seeds and come spring…you will have lots of little seedlings to put into your garden. For more detailed information on Winter Sowing, visit wintersown.org online.