Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter Sowing

Seeds Pictured: Hudson Valley Seed Library 
It is at about this point every year when I am officially OVER winter.  It's cold, it's dark and at times can really leave me feeling a bit lonely and isolated from the outside world.  While I do love the ocassional snow, the excitement of the holidays and all of the fun that comes along with winter, I miss being outside, the sunshine on my face, the warm breeze of a summer night and most of all, working in my garden.  Every year I wait anxiously for the stores to put their seed packs on display and when they do, an instant wave of giddiness comes over me.  Seeing the seed packs after a long winter brings me hope and a promise that there will be new life again.

But what would you say if I told you that you didn't have to wait until that magical spring moment to start your seeds?  What if I told you that you can in fact begin sowing the seeds for your summer garden right now? If you are familiar with the method called "Winter-Sowing," invented by the brilliant Trudi Davidoff than you aren't at all surprised by this news.  But if you are anything like me having never heard of winter sowing up until this point, my guess is that you are feeling pretty excited aren't you?  

So here's the deal.  You're going to need three things in order to complete this project.  

1. Empty gallon jugs.
2. Seeds.
3. Mother Nature.  

First you will need to make your mini greenhouses.  I am using empty gallon sized milk and water jugs for my mini greenhouses, but you can use any plastic containers as long as the sun can penetrate the walls.  Start by punching drainage holes in the bottom of the jugs and a few at the top to help ventilation.  The easiest way to do this is to heat up the tip of a screwdriver on your stove.  After punching the vents, cut the jug from side to side just below the handle, leaving about two inches to act as a hinge.

Fill your greenhouses with soil.  Any type of soil will work just fine for this project!  Add enough soil to the bottom of your greenhouse so that the soil is approximately two to three inches deep.

Wet your soil.  Water your soil and let drain.

Sow your seeds.  Trudi Davidoff advises that you should sow your seeds twice as deep as the seeds smallest dimension.  Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil, covering the seeds with more soil in order to achieve the proper soil planting depth. 

Label. After you have finished sowing your seeds, slap a piece of duct tape across your container and with permanent marker write the date and seed of the variety sown. 

Put Your Greenhouses Outside and Let Mother Nature Work Her Magic! This is the part of the project that I find fascinating.  While most of us are so accustomed to forcing our seeds into germination by using indoor lighting and heat, winter sowing allows Mother Nature to control the germination process resulting in hardier and healthier stock!  After you put your greenhouses outside in a safe and secure spot where the wind won't blow them away, your work is done until spring! 

Come Onnnnnn Spring!! Small seedings will begin to emerge as spring arrives and it will now be time to tend to your tiny plants.  Be sure to check the soil daily and water your seedling as needed.  Don't forget to close up the tops when you are finished!  
This picture was sent to us by one of our readers. Look how amazing this is!! 

We will be documenting the progress of our sweet little seeds so make sure that you check back often!  

If you are interested in Winter Sowing with us, Hudson Valley Seed Library has offered Our Little Coop readers FREE SHIPPING on any size order when you use the word COOP at checkout. Click HERE to check out their BEAUTIFUL seed packs that are pictured in this blog post!  

What Can I Winter Sow? 

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