Thursday, March 4, 2010

Winter Sowing part dos

Before Winter is over, I need to retry this Winter-sow thing.
Here it goes:

Procure a plastic container with enough room for a seedling. In this case an empty milk jug but an empty 2 litter bottle will work as well.
Take the cap off.
Cut or perforate draining holes at the bottom of the jug.

Cut open a flap on one side of the jug and make sure you leave it attached to the jug. This opening will allow you to put the soil or seed starting media of your choice into the jug --about 3 inches of it or so.

Please BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL when cutting the flap!!!!
I use scissors but I am NOT advocating any one method. If you use your extra-sharp, family heirloom scissors that your great-grandmother used to cut your grandma's wedding dress and you ruin them by using them to cut into a plastic jug, don't blame me.
By the way, if you have a coffee cup with an unglazed bottom, it is alleged that you can sharpen knives and scissors on said unglazed bottom. But I digress...

Add soil in the jug and pour water to moisten it. Sow your seeds as you normally would in the garden and tape the flap shut. You can also make small holes on the jug and the flap to tie the flap shut with a wire tie or rope.

Place the jug where it can get sun and moisture via rain or snow. That's it!
The seed should germinate when the conditions inside the jug are optimal.
Here is my jug with Oregon Spring Heirloom tomato seeds therein:

Why do this? For me, if this works, the benefits are:
  • I don't have to take room inside the house for seedlings.
  • I don't have to bother with heating mats or grow lights.
  • I don't have to babysit the seedlings.
  • I don't have to worry about hardening the seedlings.
Our last frost date is still over a month away so this test is still valid. I will post weekly progress reports. I have seen pictures of plastic jugs and bottles covered in snow and reportedly, the seeds germinated just fine when the time came.


The plant tags they sell at the store are too big to id seedlings once I put them under lights. I like to put the grow light within 2 inches of the seedling and I was running into trouble with the plant tags being a tad too high. The solution of course, was to make my own tags out of empty milk jugs.
First I drew patterns on a piece of plastic cut from the jug:

Then, I used my cheap scissors and cut the patterns out. Voila! instant plastic plant tags just the right size!


So far, out of the first batch of seeds, I only had two plants not germinate yet: SuperSweet 100 cherry tomato and Iberian Cayenne. I will give them until Sunday and if they have not germinated by then I will consider them a fail and re-sow.
I started a new batch of tomato and pepper seeds two days ago and I will be starting more tomorrow, time permitting.

The coir seems to be working great as a starter medium. I still have some peat pellets from last year so I'll use them but I think this will be the last year I'll use them.


  1. Hi David! How are you? Thanks for these solutions. But I guess I need to have stronger arms and hand to make those cuts. But still wanted to try making the tags if needed - it is a good way to recycle those plastic containers :-D

    All the beset in your seedlings effort yeah.

  2. Glad to see you posting again! I like the idea of making plant tags out of old milk bottles; I'll have to give that a try instead of my toothpick and masking tape flags.

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