The seeds are sown in their milk jugs and parked outside so Mother Nature can do her thing. I remember the first year I tried this method of growing annuals and perennials from seed; I just couldn't imagine that it was going to work. But it did, which is why I'm doing it for the third year now.
Warmer weather earlier in the week provided me with the motivation to prepare the jugs for planting. I'd been saving them for this purpose, deciding to limit it this year to a dozen. I still want to plant some seeds the traditional way, too.
Here's a brief and simple tutorial of my version of wintersowing:
- I rinsed out the opaque gallon-sized milk jugs with the hose. Then I took an ice pick and poked several holes in the bottom for drainage.
- I cut the jug in half at the base of the handle, leaving a small hinge so the top stays attached to the bottom.
- Next, I scooped the potting medium into the bottom to a level of 2-3 inches deep. I used the hose set to "mist" to wet the soil thoroughly and sat them on the front porch to drain. Watering the soil before sowing the seeds prevents the seeds from being displaced by the water pressure.
- The next day I brought the jugs into the house and planted each one with the seeds I'd chosen, then covered them with a light layer of soil.
How many seeds I have of each variety and the size of those seeds determines how densely I sprinkle the seeds in each jug. If they're really small, I just broadcast them over the soil and when they germinate and later reach transplanting stage, I plant small sections of the seedlings rather than individual plants.
- Duct tape is then used to seal the jugs back up and I mark them by number and by name with a permanent Sharpie marker. I keep a record of what I've planted on a list with corresponding numbers and names.
- Finally, I placed the jugs (caps off!) outside on the east side of the gazebo on top of the stones so they will drain well.
For more information on wintersowing, including appropriate seed lists for your zone, check out http://wintersown.org.
This year's seed list:
- Gaillardia 'Fanfare'
- Purple datura
- Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset'
- Giant Yellow Scabiosa
- Cerinthe major 'Kiwi Blue'
- Portulaca grandiflora
- Coreopsis tinctoria 'Mahogany Midget'
- Emilia coccinia 'Scarlet Magic'
- *to be determined*
By mid-spring, I'll have something that looks like this: