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Winter Sowing - have you tried it? What are you growing?

 
Posts: 41
Location: Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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Days are getting longer again now here in the northern hemisphere, meaning it's the perfect time of year to think about winter sowing some things!

If you're not familiar, I'm talking about the technique that involves using cloches, plastic jugs and bottles, etc. to start seeds outdoors in the winter/early spring months and then opening up the bottles to harden off the seedlings and transplanting them out into the garden once the weather is warm enough in the spring. It's generally recommended for hardy annuals and biennials in the winter and more heat-loving crops later on in the spring. I have read that traditionally you should start your first crops right after the winter solstice, but I find that whenever your cold weather really settles in, and not before, is good - for me that's more like early-mid January.

I highly recommend winter sowing in cooler climates if you haven't tried it before. I've been doing it for two years and find it works pretty well for me as a way to get a head start without needing a greenhouse, poly-tunnel, grow lights, etc. Has anyone else tried this method and found pros and cons with it? Is there anyone else interested in cataloging their efforts and results at winter sowing with me this year?

Right now I'm getting my seeds together and prepping my containers. I plan to start planting in January and will share my endeavors here this year in hopes that someone else will find this is a good low-cost method that can work for them too.

 
Rebecca Rosa
Posts: 41
Location: Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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Here's a few videos with more details on the method, you can find a lot more good info out there if you look:







Some things that have done really well for me sown in the cold months include: lettuce, spinach, half-long or short carrots, bachelor's buttons, anything that typically likes to be planted in fall, self-reseeds or needs cold stratification... those things that like some cold but not a hard freeze and don't have a long taproot.

Some things I like to start indoors and then put the sprouted seeds in cloches to grow in the spring (I call this half winter sowing): tomatoes, tomatillos, zinnias

Things that haven't worked for me using this method: peppers seem to just like more heat, cucurbits, radishes I don't see much point...

I've predominantly used this to start vegetables for spring and summer in the last couple of years but this year I'm going to be trying more flowers as well.



 
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Location: UK
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Broad beans do really well every year and give much earlier crops than spring sown seeds. The only downside is I have to start them in pots and then transplant otherwise the mice dig them up when there’s not much else to eat. Also a few select salad leaves - mizuna, Pak Choi, claytonia, lambs lettuce.
 
Rebecca Rosa
Posts: 41
Location: Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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I've never tried broad beans, but it sounds like I should! I have good luck with most leafy greens. Also chives.

One thing I've wondered is how well this method works for different climates. Does it work in places with winters even milder than this one, even where it may never drop below freezing? What about places where it gets really, really cold - is this still a viable method with a frost blanket over the containers? Its good to hear about other people experiences.


 
Posts: 94
Location: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Europe
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I've tried it and found it a lot of fuss. Actually seed of the same type sown when the cold sown seed first germinated did just fine. So I'd use the method more as an indicator of when it's time to sow.
 
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