Worms and Flowers

Winter Sowing

Posted in Seeds by Lzyjo on December 31, 2008

The winter solstice has passed and the days are becoming longer. It is the perfect time to winter sow seeds for next year’s garden. The balmy air and 70 degree weather are signaling to the seeds that spring will be here soon.

I first discovered winter sowing last year when I wanted to get a good head start on lettuce and greens for the spring.  In the past, I’ve had a lot of trouble with baby lettuces frying in the extreme heat, or failing to germinate in the hot baked-clay soil.

The results of my winter sowing spoke for themselves. In one 3″x”3 container I was able to grow more lettuces than I had in an entire year of direct sowing. The seedlings were vigorous, never leggy, and they were perfectly timed to mature before the summer heat.

Cool season crops like lettuce, spinach, Alliums, and Brassicas are not the only ones that benefit from winter sowing, even heat loving vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, squash, and melons are good candidates for winter sowing.

I first read about winter sowing on the  GardenWeb Winter Sowing forum. In the Spring it’s like a party on there with hundreds of users excitedly reporting their germination results. Most of the information found in the FAQ section is compiled by Trudi Davidoff, who also operates WinterSown.org, a great not-for profit website with tons of winter sowing information. They also seed send-out free seeds!

WinterSown also includes germination results for every zone, so you can get an idea of what does and doesn’t work.  So far, the only thing I’ve seen that doesn’t work are morning glory seeds, which is sort of surprising since they are usually known for tenacious reseeding.

Winter sowing can be extremely exciting and rewarding. Like any gardener, I get itching to plant seeds in the dead of winter and this is a great way to do that while also getting a jump on the planting. It’s also exciting to see tiny green sprouts emerging from the winter, even under sown-covered containers. Check out Trudi’s website for tons of inspiring photos and plant some seeds!

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