Winter Sowing

“Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year. For gardening begins in January with the dream.” ~Josephine Nuese

Winter Sowing

Winter sowing is a fun technique that uses milk jugs or clear plastic containers as mini greenhouses to grow plants outdoors during the winter.  Plants grow when they are ready!

This process was created by Trudi Greissel Numeroff, a seed saver, who did not have enough room indoors to start all of the seeds she was collecting.  She thought about what seeds go through in nature and came up with the idea.

You can start winter sowing after the winter solstice, December 21.  Jugs can be put right outside!  To winter sow, clean and prepare containers.  Drill holes or poke holes with a hot glue gun to provide drainage on the bottom of your jug.  Make a cut around your jug about 4 in. up and about ¾ around so it opens up like a clamshell.   Then, fill with 4 inches of moist potting soil, sprinkle seeds, cover seeds with more soil, and seal your containers with Duct tape.  Water occasionally so that the soil continues to be moist.  When days get warm, open your jugs.  

You can winter sow cold weather vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, Asian greens, spinach, and beets.  You can also winter sow native plants and cold hardy perennial plants.  Herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage and mint are great for winter sowing too! Click this link for a comprehensive list of seeds recommended for winter sowing 

The plants you grow will already be hardened off and will have strong root systems.  You can break off clumps of plants to transplant in pots or in your garden.

Alyssa Tadelman 

Community Garden Coordinator and Educator at Wagner Farm

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