You don’t have to wait until the weather warms up to sow seeds for your garden. In fact, sowing seeds now can save you valuable time when other spring tasks are vying for your time.
The innovative method called winter sowing uses recycled materials to create miniature greenhouses. You don’t need special lights, heated mats, or even a watering can to get your seedlings started. The amazing process of germination goes on right outdoors, even on cold, snowy ground.
1. Make your Greenhouses
- Start collecting clear gallon plastic jugs; you’ll need one for each type of seed you want to sow.
- Turn each container upside down and make about a dozen holes in the base, plus a few more about a centimetre or so up the sides, three holes to a side. You can use an electric drill or a screwdriver or awl with a heated end to punch the holes.
- Make a hinged lid for each greenhouse by cutting almost all the way around the container just below the handle with a knife.
2. Plant the Seeds
- Line the bottom of each greenhouse eight or nine centimeters deep with a light, well-drained soil mix. Moisten the mix and let it drain.
- Then sprinkle the seeds on the top of the mix, following the directions on the seed packet about how deep to sow the seeds (that is, how much to cover them). Pat the seeds down to make sure they make contact with the soil mix.
- Flip the lid closed and secure it with duct tape.
- Label each container with the name of the seeds and the date. Be sure to use a permanent marker, or you’ll be guessing what’s what.
3. Put the Greenhouses Outside
- Place your greenhouses outside in a spot that is protected from strong winds and meddlesome animals and where they get sun and rain or snow.
4. Check for Water
- When the seedlings start to emerge, open the lids and check the soil for moisture. If the soil seems dry moisten it thoroughly but gently. Then close and secure the tops.
- On warm days you can leave the tops off to let the seedlings soak in the sun, but be sure to close them up again before it gets cold out.
5. Plant the Seedlings in the Garden
- When the seedling are big enough to transplant, just cut a flap along one side of the greenhouse and slide the clump of seedlings out. The roots will have grown together, so cut them apart into little squares before you plant them in the ground.
And there you are: no fuss, no muss, and no expense when you work with Mother Nature to get a jumpstart on your garden!