Last summer, I made a mess of a first attempt at winter sowing seeds – a seed starting method involving creating mini greenhouses out of recyclables, planting with seeds and setting outside to sprout in the early spring. I loved this idea when I first read about it – no need to set up tables and grow lights in the room we didn’t have and no need to buy anything new to try it out. I went a little crazy – saving every disposable container that came through the house, madly slashing drainage holes in the bottoms, filling them with soil and seeds, soaking them and setting them outside to wait out the remaining winter days. By spring I had sodden containers, and although many sprouted anyway, others did not. Here’s what I did right – and wrong:
1. My containers – plastic milk jugs are the ideal container for winter sowing. Their height allows for room for the seedlings to grow, and their lids can be removed for extra ventilation and moisture come spring when it is still too cool at night to remove the seedlings completely. I’d imagine 2 liter bottles would be good for similar reasons.
2. My method of creating drainage holes – I used a knife, which made a slit in the plastic that didn’t really allow for drainage as it should have. This year I used a screwdriver.
3. My preparation of the seeds and soil – I took the directions to “moisten” the soil a bit too far, and my little greenhouses remained soaked throughout the early spring, obviously compounded by my poor drainage holes.
So yesterday I tried again. Right now is the perfect time to sow tender crops such as tomatoes and peppers, so I got my collected milk jugs out, sawed them in half, poked drainage and ventilation holes, filled with potting soil and seeds, moistened with a spray bottle and set them outside.
And then it snowed again.