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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Fever - Winter-Sowing Seeds - Outdoors

So ..... I have Spring Fever, really bad, and I'm missing my flowers that I haven't been able to plant for about two years! I have had a few plants outside but not my usual abundance of flowers, flower beds or planters!! I did relocated some bulbs, but those may take awhile to come back and get full! I think they have been where they were without any flower production for years.. Hopefully they will bloom again. 
I plan on doing a lot of planters & containers this year, as we haven't  got our flower beds in yet, and I don't want anything permanent. I like to use weed block & natural colored pea gravel as my mulch (see pics below) because you don't have to replace it every year, heck, you don't have to replace it for a long time, and you only have to add to what you already have, also it doesn't attract insects (like termites! Eeekk) I think I'll be getting the white and tan pea gravel this time around? Maybe I should try to find a red-ish colored pea gravel? That might be best as the clay soil around here tends to be on the red side.... I don't even know of a place around here to get landscape gravel...enough about the pea gravel, that's not what this post is about!   

Front Yard at my old house in Ohio with the pea gravel beds ....miss my bulbs ♥  :(
Pea Gravel I used as mulch.
Ohio - Pea Gravel in flower beds
Winter Seed Sowing, is what today's post is about. 
I saw a great posts about it Here, that I wanted to try. He has a lot of good info on his site!! He also has a good article on What to Winter Sow..and When but keep in mind, he lives in zone 5-b.

We go through a lot of milk and vinegar around here. (I know they go great together - yuck!) I had a whole long row of em' ready to take to the trash, then saw the post on bottle greenhouses, and changed my mind and thought, why not use the jugs for something that is constructive and that I love? Glad we didn't throw them away after all!!

Mini Greenhouses
I live in zone 8a (light tan on map) so its okay for me to start my seeds now but I will wait a little while before I start my veggies. If you live in a colder zone, you can start yours also. Some seeds you can start as early as January! Seeds get "hardened off" when they grow outside, and its more like the natural process.
You can find your zone on the USDA Plant Hardiness Map below. 
They have added "a" and "b"  to the zones so yours might have changed if you haven't looked recently, and they have also added a zone 12 and 13.  If you are having problems seeing it, you can go to their site and view it or download your own copy.

Click on this picture and it will get a little bigger

These mini greenhouse's don't need any special lighting or temperature requirements. Winter-sown seeds grow to be sturdy plants that are stronger than indoor sown plants.

Cut you jugs about 3/4 of the way around, leaving a "hinge"

Poke or drill about 8-10 holes in the bottom.(I had to poke, my husband took the drill on a job) Poke a few around the bottom sides, I used a coffee filter in the bottom so the soil stays in the pot. See my post on "Keeping Soil in your Flower Pots" 

Add  a good quality soil (about 2-3 inches) tamp it down and add more if you need it. Water it in, let it drain thoroughly then poke  shallow holes in the soil, and plant your seeds, lightly cover with soil. The teeny tiny ones can just lay on top of the soil, no need to cover them up.

After I added my seeds, I used a squirt bottle to mist them. So it didn't disturb the seeds.

Close up the jug and tape it. (I taped mine all the way around, you don't have to, as it gives it a little more ventilation, and as I found out later you will need to open them up when it gets warmer, sooooo, don't do what I do, do as I say He he he piece of tape is sufficient ) Label your greenhouse with what you planted and the date. You can throw away the lids, you won't need them! The top needs to be open for rain, snow, sleet and sun! It also needs to be open for ventilation, it lets out excess heat and humidity.
Take them outside. I put mine in the wheel barrow so I can move them  easily.

That's it, that's all you have to do! Wait for them to sprout and grow.

I also bought some Seed starting fiber cells, I wanted to have single plantings to fill my hanging bags easier. (see more about the Seed Starter Cells down below)

Hanging Flower Bags with Impatiens @ my old house.
Hanging Flower Bags
When the weather starts getting warm in the day, but still freezing at night, your seedlings will begin to show themselves. Keep a tab on the moisture (if it doesn't rain or snow) and gently water them so as to not disturb the seeds. I used a squirt bottle to moisten the soil and it doesn't hurt them. Making sure not to let the soil dry. On warm sunny days once the sprouts come up, you can leave the tops off so they can get some sun, and fresh air, making sure to close them up again when the sun goes down. 

I planted mine on Feb. 18 2013, I checked them yesterday (Feb.26th) but not to thoroughly, it was kind of a crappy day out, so I didn't really linger.... But today (Feb. 27 th)  the sun is out so I checked them a little more thoroughly  and a few of the seedlings are showing themselves!!!!! Yea!!!! It's a lot quicker than I thought! I see the Marigolds, the Bachelors Buttons, and a few of the Coleus. I'm so Happy!! They started sprouting before I even got this post published! 

Seedlings!! :)
I haven't planted all the seeds I want to start yet, I still need to find a few certain seeds, and the vegetables I'll start later, maybe mid March...I have to get used to the growing season starting early here! I never bought my plants till Mothers Day in Ohio. 

Under the Maple Tree @ my old house :) 
Advantages of Winter Sowing:
These mini greenhouse's don't need any special lighting or temperature requirements. 
* Can start early with minimal effort & maximum gain.
* Indoor germinated seedlings, tend to be  frail and more tender, winter-sown seeds grow to be sturdy plants that are stronger than indoor sown plants.
*Doesn't take up space indoors.

* Make sure its safe from wind, so your greenhouses don't get tipped over, but where the sun, rain & snow (if you have any) can get to them.
* If you have pets (male ones especially) you might want them up off of the ground.    

The Waiting Begins:
As the weather warms and freezes, your seeds will freeze and thaw, which creates the natural action of opening up the seed shell.  This is good for the hard shelled seeds such as Morning Glory's, Cannas  Nasturtiums, etc., it cracks the shell so there is no need to pre-soak. 
Check on your greenhouses occasionally to make sure they don't dry out to much.

Here are the Seed Starting Fiber Cells, I put them in a drawer of a plastic bin, you need to drill holes in the bottom of the plastic for drainage. I planted Petunia's & Impatiens in these cells.

Petunia & Impatiens Seed Cells
I taped 3 opaque trash bags together. 

Taped it onto the plastic drawer, all the way around and cut out a ventilation/ watering hole. I Poked  more holes all around the edges of the trash bags for more ventilation.

 This is my 3 gallon planter. I taped a couple bags together and covered the top. I can flip the sides up for ventilation. I un-tape it to water.  I planted 3 different colors (Purple, Pink & Blue) of Morning Glory in this so I can set it on my porch. I got this idea from a Pin, on Pintrest. (See below)
3 Gal. planter with Morning Glory's
Pin from Pintrest.... GOOD IDEA!

I will update this post with the progress of my plants, and keep it updated with pictures etc., so stay tuned!

Update 3-8-13  I see some Lobelia coming up today :) (in both containers) I didn't take a picture as they are barely big enough for my eye to see.
I still don't see any Coleus, or the Morning Glory's.

Yesterday (3-7-13) I planted some more Bachelors Buttons and some pink and blue Forget-Me-Nots..... I'll keep you posted.

Update 3-25-13

The Morning Glory's are finally up and about a inch tall, I didn't take a picture of those yet. I see the Petunia's coming up now but are tiny. I still don't see the Impatiens (I'm getting very impatient for them hehehe) I planted some more, hopefully they aren't duds!Also, Last week I planted:
Convolvulus (I don't even know how to pronounce that, but they sure are pretty!! LOL)
Alyssum (white & purple), Mammoth Sunflowers, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Super Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes.
the Convolvulus and the tomatoes are already starting to come up :))

Are you going to try this out? If so, what will you plant? Leave a comment and let us know!

UPDATE 5-2-13
These pictures were taken on 4-23-13
Bachelors Buttons


 These pictures are after I transplanted them to my washtub barrels. I did have to buy a few plants this year, I didn't have 100% success on the seeds I planted, I'll try again next year! I would say I had a 95% success rate, so its worth it to me to do this again!!

Transplanted Lobelia 4-26-13

Transplanted Bachelors Buttons 4-26-13

Transplanted Marigold's 4-26-13
These are my finished barrels...I'll post pics when they fill in more.

This should help with my Spring Fever!!

Happy Planting!!


  1. This looks like a good way for me to get my 2.4 year old grand daughter involved in gardening with me so I can get out in the 'big' garden. Maybe do some carrots so she can eat them out of her own garden ;)

  2. That's a good idea! If she's anything like me, she would be excited when the seedlings show themselves ;) You would have to transplant them to something deeper, a bucket, perhaps?

  3. I love the milk jug greenhouse idea! I planted about 15 different varieties of Morning Glories this year. I absolutely LOVE Morning Glories! ♡ They are just about ready to start climbing, so I better hurry up and build some trellises! Lol

    1. Hey Katie! How did they do?? I didn't get to plant any this year :( I did have some volunteers come up though, no blue ones :(


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