Cottage Gardening forum: #1 2012 Piggy Chat and Q&A

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Nov 20, 2012 12:00 PM CST
Name: Jonna
Belgium, Europe
I always transplant in pots, but plug it right in the ground is also possible. It's just my personal preference to plant out in the garden when the seedlings are grown into small plants.
I transplant seedlings when I have time or when they bump their heads. No watering needed until transplantation (keep the lids on the container!), unless you have big seedlings bumping their head and have no time. In that case I remove the lid and water the seedlings until I have time to transplant them.
You can leave the seedlings in the closed container for at least 2 weeks, sometimes even (much) longer. As long as the lid is on, no watering is needed.

Hope some others tried to (winter) sow in vermiculite, so CC will get a bit more confident to try it.
Nov 20, 2012 2:14 PM CST
Name: Tonya Rose
Blanco, TX
Au contraire, CC. Winter sowing is hugely successful in Texas! I think there are many seeds that do not require temps below 25 degrees Celsius, which is usually about as low as we get here. I am a big fan of winter sowing and start very few seeds any other way. I truly encourage you to try two or three methods and see which works best for you!
Nov 20, 2012 3:08 PM CST
Name: Patricia Spaulding
I Ws'ed my seeds in closed containers and vermiculite like Jonna described and had a better germination rate than the two previous years I tried WSing. It was wonderful not to have to worry with watering as soon as the temps began to warm up or if it didnt rain occasionally. I plan to ws my seeds that way again this year..
[Last edited Nov 20, 2012 5:47 PM CST]
Quote | Post #927789 (3)
Nov 20, 2012 3:12 PM CST
Name: Jonna
Belgium, Europe
Patricia, I'm glad to hear it worked well for you.
It works so good for me, that I want to persuade everyone to at least try it once.

Nov 20, 2012 4:06 PM CST
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Facebook, NGA
and the beloved Winston the pug
ccvacation Do you have any tips for starting dahlias from seed? So far, mine do well late spring sown i.e. sown by the wintersowing method in late February/early March. I started tomatoes that way also. I have limited indoor seed starting space and light. My light shelves start getting really crowded by April. My last frost date is at the end of May, but I usually start potting things up and setting things out sooner which means that I run the risk of being overrun with little pots if there is an unsuspected frost.

I caught up with work and finished my paper. Now, I am recovering my photos from my problematic photo card so that I can post some photos (and pimp some seeds)
Nov 20, 2012 5:49 PM CST
Name: Patricia Spaulding
I know someone posted a link for pictures of seeds, but I cant seem to find it. If someone knows what it is please post it again for me. I am looking for pictures of ellagance sky lavender seed.. Thanks
Nov 20, 2012 6:06 PM CST
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Facebook, NGA
and the beloved Winston the pug
They seem to be doing some site maintenance on my favorite wintersowing site. Here is the main link with some other links. The site has lists of seeds suitable for wintersowing in different zones. It is a good place to start.

Here is an archived page

Nov 20, 2012 6:26 PM CST
Name: CC
Andi, I'm a tuber girl when it come to dahlias. No seed tips from me, sorry.

So, do the plants start germinating when the outside weather starts being optimal, then? I'm envisioning a week of warmth in march, sprouts, then limp noodles as snow comes back. Sad

What depth of container? I checked out disposable Tupperware and clear-sided shoe boxes today at the dollar store... Four and two inch seems most common. I'm thinking two inch would bruise their heads!

I was thinking about the shoe boxes for space and stack-ability, but the lids only clip on the ends, leaving small gaps on the sides. Might Saran Wrap and rubber bands under the lids keep it tight enough?

Nov 20, 2012 6:27 PM CST
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana

Lavender seed images...
Nov 20, 2012 6:38 PM CST
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana

If you look at the pictures here it looks like you can use different sizes. I'd imagine you'd want to use your deeper containers for faster-growing seedlings, or your larger seeds.

Seedlings started by wintersowing are much tougher than others. Cold snaps really won't hurt them. Smiling

BTW, I've got huge, beautiful tubers on my Dahlias! Thank so much for the advice! How do they grow such big roots and flower all summer long ...from seed started the same year? I'm duly impressed!
Nov 20, 2012 7:10 PM CST
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Facebook, NGA
and the beloved Winston the pug
The first year that I tried wintersowing, I started with seeds that are reputed to self sow in my area - like daisies, coneflower, columbine, hyssop etc. These are things that would naturally drop seeds in fall which would naturally start in spring. It made sense that I could duplicate mother nature. If I dropped seeds on purpose in planting media and left them outside they would germinate. It worked. I use cut soda bottles which act as little greenhouses. I'll post a picture when I can. At the moment, my computer is churning away trying to recover my garden pictures from a damaged camera card. (I am not sure if it is damaged, or if I should have completely formatted the card instead of moving it from my old camera to my new camera).

I pretend that I am Sharon Stone and stab holes in the bottom of the soda bottle with an ice pick. I make one hole in each bump in the bottom of the bottle. Then, I use a utility knife to cut the bottle in half. I make the cut about 2/3 up in the flat part of the bottle, but you could cut it directly in half and it would be just fine. After doing a few bottles, you will probably get and idea of what you want. Then I cut a few vertical slits - about 3- around the edge of the BOTTOM part of the bottle so that I can slide the top part over the bottom part. It will stay on top without tape or anything all winter You can throw the bottle cap away. You can moisten the mix ahead of time or submerse the bottle in water to saturate the media (easier).

This is a good time of year to prep your containers if you store your potting mix outside. I don't have a greenhouse, shed, garage or basement. I store my various potting mixes in plastic bags inside of plastic garbage cans. I arrange the garbage cans to make a barrier to prevent the neighbors's unruly brown Labradors (3 neighbors have brown labs - I can't tell them apart. I don't even know which fool to blame anymore) from invading my patio and patio garden. One came after Winston the pug and I yesterday morning while we were attempting some fall clean up. We were NOT PLEASED. The dog a got a dose of pepper spray in the snoot as we made our retreat. I was armed and dangerous, protecting my perennials from hungry rodents at the time.). I do most of my potting/repotting outside on my patio table. If we have a really cold winter, the potting mix freezes solid. It is a royal pain to wheel the garbage cans of potting mix inside to defrost. You can wait to start the seeds, but it will be much easier to fill some containers now. People traditionally start sowing seeds December 21, the shortest day of the year. I plan to so them whenever I get around to it between now and Easter - depending on the seeds. Mother nature sows seeds all year long as the spirit moves her.

It is becoming clear that either the unruly neighbors or I are going to have to move for me to enjoy my patio garden.

The list on the above link is a good place to start regarding which seeds to try to wintersow. I even store my seeds based on their sowing method. I have a wintersowing box, a start indoors box, and a veggie box.

You are going to want to label your containers and seeds. Regular sharpies fade. Black paint pens (other colors can fade, at least for me), black paint with a little brush (my current method) and pencil (if you don't rub it off while wiping the dirt to read the label - oops) don't fade. I cut discarded blinds as labels. I also paint a number on the BOTTOM HALF of the soda bottle. I keep a numbered handwritten list on a notepad as I sow the seeds. If I lose the marker, I can look up the bottle number on the list.

The trickiest time for me is spring. The seedlings are growing, but the night time temperatures are too cold to take the lids off. I have lost more plants by separating and planting them too early than by leaving them happily overcrowded. Some people separate and pot up their seeds several times. I don't have the time or space to do that. Most of mine get planted in the garden using the "hunk of seed" method once they are big enough to survive and after the danger of frost is past. The plants don't dry out unless I leave the lids off. If there is condensation on the top of the soda bottle, you don't need to water. If there are a few warm days in a row, you may have to water. I bottom water by putting several inches of water in a plastic pan and soaking one bottle at a time in the water. In spring, once your seeds are germinated and growing, you have to rely on your instincts on what to do with each type. When in doubt, leave them in the bottle with the lid on until they are ready to plant.

I am growing things for my own garden. I am thrilled to get a clump or two of each variety I sow. I am sure that people who are growing plants for sale use different methods to generate the maximum number of plants per given quantity of seeds. (I sow my veggies and tropicals inside. I start them individually in small pots under lights.)

I rarely ever sow the entire quantity of any given seed. If the first starting method that I try doesn't work, I can try a different method.

I look up the planting depth in deno's database (I printed it out for reference. Mud and computers don't mix). If I am not sure what to do, I sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the media since that is what usually happens in nature. Seed packets can be contradictory. Some independent brands give really good instructions. Very few seed companies mention wintersowing - possibly because they make a big profit selling starting trays, peat pots and assorted things I don't use.
Nov 20, 2012 8:03 PM CST
Name: Jill
NW Missouri
What a great conversation! I tried wintersowing for the first time this past spring. I had good luck getting things to sprout - and got 3 or 4 varieties planted in the garden. I lost several varieties just before transplanting because I took the lids (the top half of the milk jug) off preparing to transplant. We had 50 mph 80 degree wind the next day while I was at work. Many of them simply fried. I watered and sheltered when I got home, but it was too late for most.

You've inspired me to hunt around for a good source of vermiculite so I can try again. I visited Jonna's website to read up on her method, and I'm going to try and get my seeds sorted and separated so I know which I can use later in the winter. I can see several things I need to do differently, so I'm hoping for better results. Thanks for the tips everyody!

Nov 20, 2012 8:51 PM CST
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Facebook, NGA
and the beloved Winston the pug
I have vermiculite on my Lowe's shopping list. They had the big bags in the building section this summer.

I guess 6" of potting mix would be idea. I make sure that I have at least a hand's with of soil in each bottle. Sometimes, I have run low on soil and used less but I don't recommend it. I have also divided a bottle in half to plant two types of seed in one bottle. It is less than ideal, but if you are running out of soil and can't decide which seeds to plant it kind of works. I did this the first year. Both the seeds and I survived.

I have to make sure that I get my potting materials now. In winter, the bags stores outside get covered in snow and ice and freeze together. The stores with indoor garden departments have already converted to holiday decorations. I don't want to be stuck buying expensive little bags of potting mix for wintersowing.

Containers for wintersowing? Some people use milk jugs. I tried that, but they were hard to keep closed and my seedlings dried out. I use soda bottles - clear or green both work. I think they are the perfect, self contained mini greenhouses for winter sowing. You will be able to see the seeds thru the "periscope" and the roots thru the plastic of the bottle.You can try both and see what works for you. I keep the soda bottles in the plastic carrying trays that hold 8 bottles. It makes things so much easier. Grumpypants got them somewhere (I didn't ask) to make it easier to haul my diet soda into my place. I use my kiddie wagon to move things too heavy to carry, but he is embarrassed to be seen anywhere near it. Since the soda carriers are frequently full of plants, more soda carriers arrive on a regular basis. I have seen them sitting outside convenience stores. I am not sure if they are "free to a good home" or "waiting for the delivery truck". It wouldn't hurt to ask. Keep in mind that convenience stores have lots of security cameras. You don't want to get in trouble. Deadheading plants for seeds is one thing, but grand theft soda bottle holder is another. If you are at Walmart (or your favorite soda source) when they are unpacking the soda, you can help yourself to the cardboard boxes that the bottles are shipped in. I like to grab boxes while in the store to make it easier to load my groceries into the kiddie wagon for transport. They may keep the bottles from blowing around in a storm.

Don't forget to pick up some cinnamon at the dollar store. Sprinkling it on the surface of the potting mix makes a difference in damping off in both wintersown and indoor seedlings. It doubles as critter repellent. Bella the cat HATES cinnamon, neems oil and pepper spray. I use all three to keep her away from the plants. She has her own plants to nibble on, but she has developed a taste for my Jasmine. The poor plant has a difficult enough time overwintering indoors without a cat chewing it. Winston the pug is indifferent to houseplants.

I read that pepper and pepper flakes can keep squirrels from digging in outdoor containers. They like to plant black walnut trees around here. I am sprinkling pepper in my outdoor pots this year.

If you see little clumps of seeds in the center of your wintersown container it means that a bird with good aim planted something in your container. I had mystery bullseye of mystery seeds in a couple of containers. When I noticed similar patches in my garden, I figured out what they were. I prefer the aftermath of the sunflower feed to the tiny seed feed. I leave rose hips and seed heads for the birds, but don't buy feed.
Nov 20, 2012 9:45 PM CST
Name: Patti
Eagle Point, OR
I started a new chat thread so head on over here:

I will be closing this thread. Don't forget to put the new thread on your watch list.

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