Winter Seed-Sowing Outdoors in Containers



By Robert Pavlis of Garden Fundamentals

Complete winter sowing demonstration includes making the container, sowing seeds, and care during the winter. This is the easiest way to sprout seeds with no lights or electricity. Produce tough seedlings that thrive in the garden.

A wide range of containers can be used, including juice bottles, milk jugs and pop bottles. Winter sowing is easy, takes very little care and produces superior plants.

Why do winter sowing? Winter gardening is one of the few gardening jobs that can be done in winter. It requires no light or electricity since the germinated seeds use the suns energy to grow. The process produces small tough seedlings which are much more robust than ones grown on windowsills.

Which type of seed will work for winter sowing? Most annuals, popular perennials, and temperate shrubs and trees work well. Any seed that naturally spends some time outside in winter can be winter sown. Tropical plants may not work since the cold can kill the seed.

Winter sowing is great for cool growing vegetables like lettuce and other salad greens.

Any clear container or one that is white will work. Light needs to be able to get into the container to the seedlings. Milk jugs, pop bottles and juice bottles all work well.

Garden soil works well, especially if it is clay based since this soil stays wet longer. Seedling mix can also be used.

Start by making drainage holes in the bottom of the container. This can be done with a knife or a hot metal poker. Cut the container in half.

Place soil in the bottom of the container to about 2” deep. Add seed, and cover with soil about the same thickness as the seed. Water well. Put the upper half of the container on and remove the containers screw on top.

Place outside and wait for spring. During cold weather the container can be left alone. Snow or rain will enter the top of the container and provide enough water. Once seedlings germinate, keep an eye on the moisture level and water if necessary.

Plant the seedlings into the garden once they are big enough to handle. Don’t let them get too big in the container.

Robert Pavlis is also the owner, and author of two gardening blogs.

Garden myths is a blog that uncovers the secretes of common garden myths and tries to understand the truth about gardens and plants.

Visit a blog that presents general information about gardening, plants and garden design, for both the beginner and advanced gardener.

2 Responses to “Winter Seed-Sowing Outdoors in Containers”

  1. <path_to_url> Jared

    An old soldering iron works well to poke holes as well…

  2. <path_to_url> Bodynsoil

    We live in Vermont, just a few miles from the Canadian border. This doesn’t sound like it would work, if you can do it in Ontario it should work here. I’m willing to give it a twirl.


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