Here’s how I do it….
First you need to do a little research to find out what type of seeds you can wintersow. If you take a look around www.wintersown.org, Trudi has made lists of seeds for specific zones to use as guidelines. My method is, “if it’s a perennial, biennial or hardy self-seeding annual in MY zone… I’m going to wintersow it”. Simple as that. But everyone’s a little different so do your research to see what will work for you.
First…got my area prepped. Box of seeds for WS’ing ready. Permanant markers to mark my containers. Check. Basin of water. Check. Basin to hold my mess in with newspaper underneath. Check (although I know I’m going to make a mess anyway!) Bucket of soil. Yup.
Get your containers ready. I use just about any plastic container I can find and cut up but I prefer to use milk jugs, plastic water bottles and pop bottles. Wash them good. (if using water, milk or pop jugs…throw out the caps. You don’t need them) Next, cut them in half with a serated kitchen knife or scissors…whatever works best for you. Now cut slits in the bottoms of them for drainage. If using containers like sour cream containers or butter, toss the lids. You’ll need to cover those with plastic wrap or lg baggies.
Label your containers (unless you like surprises) I usually label mine in a couple different places…like the side and the bottom just in case some of the lettering fades. In this case, I’m going to seed a couple of containers of Rudbeckia (black-eyed-susans) “Irish Eyes”. I also dated these…can’t remember why tho.
Put approx 3″ worth of soil into the containers. Any less than this will not promote good root growth. Set your jugs into your ‘mess tray’ and soak the soil really well. Setting them into the ‘mess tray’ helps them drain also.
Sow your seeds. I’ve basically thrown these right on top of the soil and I will press these down into the dirt just a little bit. Do your research for your particular type of seeds you’re going to sow. Some seeds need light to germinate and some need to be in the dirt a little further. The amount of seeds you throw in also depends on the type of seeds you’re sowing and how much YOU want to thin the clumps in the spring. I’m usually pretty generous with my sowing.
Snuggle the lid on. Sometimes I have a bit of trouble getting that lid back on… so I’ll cut a 1-2″ slit in the side to get it to slip back on. (or back IN to the bottom part of the container) Now we’re just about ready to throw these outside. (don’t really throw them!)
Got this tray ready to go outside. Added a couple more containers of BES seeds…think those were “Indian Summer” or something like that.
Pick a nice place for them to sit during the rest of the winter. Can you see them? When I took this picture we had about 6″ of snow so they’re really snuggled in there. Now… I actually can’t see them at all because we’ve gotten another 12″ of snow since then. Which is OK. The snow on top and dripping into the containers is good! They need the moisture during the winter. If it starts to get a little dry where they’re sitting, I’ll usually find some more snow and just throw it on top of them.
I chose the north side of the house at the edge of the woods. If you put your little ‘greenhouses’ on the south or east side of your home, they can become too warm in early spring and then sprout too early…so choose someplace on the north side or someplace with just a little shade. When Spring arrives, your little seeds will sprout at just the right time and you’ll have oodles and oodles of new plants for your garden. When it gets consistantly warm, take their tops off and treat them as you would any transplant. Easy as pie!
OK… I’ve covered the wintersowing and now for ME. 😉 I landed a job at a large nursery nearby! Starting in March, I will be working at Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI. Very exciting! Check out their website if you get a minute.