I had never heard of Winter Sowing before this last winter. I can't recall exactly how I stumbled upon it, but boy am I glad I did. It's hard to believe that in our crazy cold winter here in NEW that you could plant seeds outdoors and they will grow by April. Winter Sowing is just that. Sowing seeds in little homemade greenhouses that are kept outdoors in the middle of winter.
First you need to construct a little greenhouse. These little greenhouses are just items you have lying around your home. Milk jugs, soda bottles (2 L or smaller are fine), water bottles, etc. They will germinate when they are ready.Drill or pound drainage holes on the bottom. You cut the container around the mid section and then fill with soil. Plant seeds in the soil and duct tape the container shut. You remove the cap so moisture gets in. Plop them outside and check them weekly to see if they need a drink. You don't want them in a completely open container like an ice cream bucket because it won't hold the moisture in. You want it to act like a greenhouse. As the seeds sprout and get bigger and bigger make your air holes bigger and bigger too. Start with just the caps off of the milk jugs and soda bottles when you plant. Wait until sprouts appear and poke holes in the top. Eventually they are all hardened and ready to go in the ground. I would wait until the end of May or beginning of June.
I started my seeds in March. I got them started a little late, but it doesn't matter. They won't germinate until they are ready anyway. I planted tomatoes, bush beans, bell peppers and cucumbers outside. The peppers and cukes I did yesterday. The tomatoes and beans went outside in early March. Right now my Brandywine tomatoes are looking great (see picture below). I did a little experiment with the Brandywine tomatoes. I had sown them in little pots already and decided to just stick them in the jug. I did this instead of directly planting the seeds in the jug. This will be nice when it comes time to transplant. They actually look better than the ones I planted indoors. See, I wanted to test which plants did better. The ones outside or the one indoors. I didn't want all of my eggs in one basket. I had a little mishap with some indoor plants so that is why I planted more outside yesterday. I think it might have been damping off that ruined my indoor cilantro, some cucumbers, beans and all of my Morning Glories. It also appears that the seedlings outside are healthier. Their stems seem thicker. Maybe it's because they are in their natual elements. I don't know exactly?! I'll keep you updated with the progress or death of my plants. Hopefully not the latter. Let me know if you have done Winter Sowing. Any tips or techniques would be much appreciated.