Sunday, February 8, 2009

Winter Sowing

When I first heard the term "winter sowing" my thoughts were of sowing seeds in trays, placing them under a light source inside the house, water and take care of them until it was time to bring them outside.

The thought of sowing seeds and placing them outside at a time when my - still tiny - rhododendron looks like it is more dead than alive, paralyzed by temperatures far below -20 Celsius, just didn't occur.
My curiosity took over. I studied information that I found on the net and finally decided that I would try it this winter. You might say that for me this first time winter sowing is somewhat an experiment. Like many (I'm sure) longtime gardeners I find it going against some of my instinct (?) or rather learned "seed starting ABC" that the seeds don't need my tender care and attention, but will do just fine on their own outside in the cold and snow. In fact I read that they will do much better this way! The dreaded "damping off" will not happen to the young seedlings this way and seeds that need cold stratification will get just that. You don't have to put them in your fridge or freezer for x number of weeks - sometimes even repeatedly - they get the cold treatment automatically.
There are lots of information about winter sowing to be found on the net. Trudy Davidoff, I believe, started the idea and has a very informative site, Wintersown about it. Other sites that I visited are Daves Garden , American Gardens Suite 101 , and Gardenweb has a forum called Canadian Winter Sowing.
The last few days we have had a thaw here - I think that the snow level has shrunk by 50 cm - and yesterday I did my first winter sowing. I started out by sowing seeds that I collected last summer from echinacia, rudbeckia, daisy, anemone, helenium, zinnia, pine, and spruce.

I placed the miscellaneous re-cycled plastic trays in a corner, sheltered from the harsh south-western winds and with some additional protection by a row of potted "willow trees" to that they will stay in place. They get a few rays of morning sun here and I will be checking on them.
In a few months I hope to report life in the containers and to submit photos as evidence.


  1. I've been reading about winter sowing, and have been thinking about trying it.
    I enjoyed reading your posts. My favourite tree in my backyard is my willow. It provides a shady area for growing woodland plants, and attracts wildlife.

  2. Northern Shade - Thank you for visiting and your comment. Just paid you a quick visit at your site and will certainly return soon.

  3. Hi Salix,
    Winter Sowing caught my eye as I've read about it from several other gardeners. I really hope it will work for you. It'd be sad to lose such lovely potential plants--they're all beauties when they bloom:) Also hope those willows will be well and grow in your yard once you get them planted. The willow tree is my favorite tree--literally. I can't have one where we more room in my yard:(

  4. Thank you Jan -
    I made the potted willows last spring using one year rods from different willow varieties. They can actually stay in the pots if you don't want to plant them in the garden or you just don't have the space. In the pots or in the ground - either way - you can prune and shape them as you like. The trunks - most of them 9 rods twisted as a rope - will eventually grow into one big "rope".

  5. I will be very curious to see how it goes for you and your winter sown seeds. I like you have looked into and it goes against everything I've always done. I may just have to try it if it works well for you! Keep us posted, Kim

  6. Well some of the perennials demands a cold period perferably with snow on the top.

    Your potted willows looks great there in the corner. I guess they like shade don't they?


  7. Hi Kim
    Yes, it will be interesting to see how they do. I'll keep things updated here.

  8. Hi Tyra
    The whole thing about winter sowing sounds so great - if it works I am a new fan.
    The willows actually like the sun, but when they are in a pot you have to make sure that they don't dry out.

  9. I really should try some winter sowing too. Perhaps in a few weeks when I have some time off work, I'll give it a try. Hope your winter sowing is successful.

  10. Thank you Crafty Gardener - I hope so too.

  11. Love your blog - I too am a fan of the genus Salix, and worked for a couple of years for a grower here in B.C. I've always wanted to make baskets, but never managed to do it, so I collect them instead.

  12. Thanks Blue Fox, for visiting.
    Did you work for Bluestem? I bought some of my cuttings there.

  13. Wow, thanks for joining Blotanical and showing us the way to this enchanting place. I'm sure your gardening spirit and zeal will create just the perfect, lush country garden, after all, you have an almost empty canvas to paint on. Good luck and keep up the great work. Cheers,

    Violet (another willow fan)

  14. Thank you, Violet, for stopping by and your kind comment. I am looking forward to explore blotanical.......

  15. Lene is such a cool name, as is your nom de plume! Welcome to the blogospshere. Come visit me:
    (Left you a message on blotanical) Alice

  16. Oh dear, I've entered the wrong user name.
    At any rate, Lene is a great name, and likewise, your nom de plume. Hope I'm not being repetitious here.
    Welcome to the blogosphere and Blotanical, drop by for a visit:


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