Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter Seed Sowing

This year I started my garden in January.  That's right, January in South Dakota.  Snow, ice, wind, and freezing temperatures.  Who wouldn't want to garden?

I've been doing a lot of research and have decided to try winter seed sowing.  Winter seed sowing is planting your seeds in enclosed mini-greenhouses in the middle of winter.  Allowing snow to fall on your seeds, freeze, thaw, and repeat mimics nature.  Plants will be hardier and I will have my seedlings for the summer ready to go without electricity for a grow light or giving up space in the windows.  It's an amazing, sufficient way to start seeds.

I have been collecting clear milk jugs for my mini-greenhouses.  I washed them really good and then stored them with the cap on until I was ready for them.  Last week we had a couple nice days, and I spent a lot of time in the garden shed prepping and planting my seeds.

First make the drain holes in the bottoms of the jugs.  A screwdriver works nice for this.  Don't do what I did and try to make the holes after you cut around the jugs.  I am lucky to still have all my fingers.  After your jug has drain holes, cut right below the handle almost all the way around.  I left one side attached to create a hinge.

To fill my jugs I had to use store bought potting soil because my ground was frozen solid.  I think I had a few funny looks asking for potting soil while it was snowing outside.

I followed directions for planting depth as indicated on the seed packets.  For the tiny seeds like lettuce and broccoli I just sprinkled the seeds all over and dusted with soil.

Make sure you label your jugs unless you want to play guess that plant in the spring.

Finally, tape all the way around the cut.  Clear packing tape is your best bet if you have it.

When you are ready to set them out, remove the lids.  You want them to get snowed and rained on.  My sunniest spot is the garden, so I set them along the fence there.  If my kids and animals leave them alone, they should be fine.

Hopefully this spring I will have a whole mess of seedlings ready to go.  If a seed can grow unassisted in nature, then surely they will grow this way... right?  I promise to provide updates on how this works for me.

To read more about winter seed sowing visit Winter Sown.  This has been my go-to site and provides a huge amount of information.  


  1. I would love to know if this works well for you, I will watch for your updates. Our home doesn't get enough light to start seeds inside and this would be a good solution for us. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I've done winter sowing! It worked really well for my herbs. I never had any luck with herbs until I did winter sowing. I guess I should get going on mine.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is exactly what I am looking for. I want to start some of my plants. I don't have indoor space or a greenhouse. This is perfect!

  4. I tried this method last year but I didn't put them in a sunny enough position and they also got insufficient water. I did however get some seedlings up. Just make sure you label them on something other than the plastic of the bottle. The permanent marker I used faded to nothing and I had no idea what I had planted where and had to make educated guesses based upon the leaves of the seedlings that did make it. Not great when you're a novice gardener like me. lol

  5. I love this idea! Stopping by from BMB.


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