Winter Sowing

Winter sowing is a method of cold weather gardening that allows you to grow vegetables while it is still cold to get ahead in the growing season. I learned about winter sowing a few years ago from my friend Amber, who lives on a farm in Campbell County, Kentucky. Its not too late in the season to get started since ground planting is not recommended until after Mother’s Day in our area (growing zone 6a).
Here are some easy steps you can take to start winter sowing.

  1. Do you have clear plastic bottles or plastic bins such as the ones that hold spring mix? You can use winter sowing to turn those items into mini green houses.
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    Any clear bottle will do.

2. Make sure you put holes in the bottom of the container for proper drainage otherwise your seeds could mold.2
3. If you use something like a milk jug or a 2 liter, remove the lid for ventilation, or just poke some holes in the top of your container for ventilation. This keeps your sweet plant babies from being burned up in a hot environment.3
4. If using a bottle, cut it in half.4
5. Fill containers  with soil. You can use soil from your yard, which helps if that is the same soil you will transplant your plants into, or use organic garden soil.5
6. Put in your seeds. If planting tomatoes or other vegetables that get large 1 to 2 seeds is best so you have an easier time transplanting later. Things like lettuce and herbs can be grown much closer together if they will be planted closer together in the garden. Make sure to use a marker to write what seeds you planted in your containers.6
7. Water the seeds and soil really well. Tape the sides closed if you cut your container in half. Put the lid back on.7
8. Place your containers in the sunniest place you have.     8
Check your containers for dryness and water when needed otherwise leave everything alone until the plant starts to outgrow the container. Since it is already April, you can try to time it so your plant is ready for planting the second week of May.
When your plant is several inches tall, start opening the container in the day time for a few hours every day and increase the time every few days to harden off the plant to get ready for planting.
Set a timer to remind you to water the containers or to cover them for the night. I have forgotten to do both and have lost plants because of it.
There are websites and social media groups for more information, just search “winter sowing”
My favorite group from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wintersown/
Written By, Cathy Craig Outreach Programmer for the Kenton County Public Library and amateur micro farmer