I have been fascinated by winter sowing for years, but this is the first year I got my feet wet with some tomato seeds. We buy nuts at the farmers market in these plastic containers that are not tall, but otherwise make a wonderful little greenhouse.
As far as I am concerned, spring in my area of California arrives in January, compared to where I grew up in Northwest Kansas--
(CLIMATE RANT:) back when it was hot in the summers and cold in the winters and Low humidity in every season unless there was active precipitation. Now it can be 20° F one day and 60° the next day in the middle of the winter time. Due to climate change and I'm told, everyone planting corn ( which they used to say we couldn't grow in our area ), it's much more humid than it used to be. So spring in January in California is amazing to me.
Anyway, I have had some volunteer tomatoes that start early and do really well. So I figured I would winter sow tomatoes in those short containers (with holes drilled) and by the time they come up, it wiould be warm enough they could survive.
And so it is. I have had several varieties come up and do fine without the lids on. It's very interesting to me which ones come up first: Sierra seeds Indian moon, Zanitza, persimmon, yellow pear ( not surprising as it volunteers all over the place ), purple bumblebee, and blue fruit. You'd think that Sasha's Altai and possibly Matt'swild cherry would've raised their flags, but not yet.
This is so exciting to me. I Ihave also been reading about Joseph Lofthouse's plant shenanigans, William Schlegel's thread on direct sowing, John Indaburgh on succession planting with tomatoes, and a bunch of amazing other Permies contributors, and there are much more possibilities then I ever realized. I can't wait to start all kinds of things outdoors in various ways!
I'm surprised your winter ends in January, for some reason in alot of places, global warming has shifted winter to January, Febraury, and March (weird cause the Earth's tilt and orbit hasn't changed as far as I know).
It's cool they survived the winter... Are these outside?
At Wheaton Labs, we hope to focus on food production this spring. We too, will be experimenting with a number of methods!
Yes, these are outside on a set of plastic shelves.
I didn't get them planted until January when it was already beginning to warm up. (Farmer's almanac says last frost on January 20.) Compared to other climate zones, we have very mild winter weather, but even in cold climates, winter sowers can leave the containers out in the snow. I've seen posts and blogs about that. Usually, people use plastic jugs so plants have room to grow taller, but given our mild climate I figured these would work. You leave the lid on ( with holes punched) so it keeps moisture and warmth in. I believe the method was originally developed by Trudi Greissle Davidoff. Her website is wintersown.org.
I live North of you in Ca. zone 9b. I got a late start, I started a bunch of seeds, tomatoes included mid February. Only 1 tomato came up, so I tossed some seeds in the same pots and put a little compost on top, and now I have lots of little seedlings. I started mine in a little plastic and metal greenhouse I got for my Birthday last year. It's a lot of fun. Tomorrow I'm going to put a few seeds into the garden bed with a glass cover over it. We will see what happens. Good luck to you.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln
It looks like it's time for me to write you a reality check! Or maybe a tiny ad!
Permaculture Voices 1, 2 and 3 - all 117 hours of video!