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Winter Sowing

March 3rd, 2011

Winter Sowing [win-ter soh-ing]sewing(oops – it was late) sowing seeds in the middle of the winter and allowing them to come up when it’s the right time

I don’t technically follow the rules of winter sowing. I simply plant things late in the fall in my cold frame, usually spinach and lettuce. When the cold frame first starts to warm in the spring, the seeds germinate – it’s very simple and easy. This is really nice because I don’t have to worry about sowing flats of seeds top outside or in my basement seed starting area. I usually have great germination and the spinach and lettuce usually thrives. I noticed these spinach seedlings last week when the weather warmed up.

Have you ever sown things outdoors in winter?

10 Comments to “Winter Sowing”
  1. A on March 3, 2011 at 6:25 am

    That is so much easier than starting indoors.But will these seedlings survive the weather if it snows again?

    Reply to A's comment

    • Susy on March 3, 2011 at 7:41 am

      Theoretically they should survive because the seeds will be dormant until the conditions are right for them to germinate. You’re suppose to sow them in covered containers so the seedlings wouldn’t get smashed by the snow and would be protected until they’re transplanted into the garden.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. esp on March 3, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I have! And it really does work and is less fussy than hardening off transplants from inside. I even do tomatoes that way.

    Reply to esp's comment

  3. Daedre Craig on March 3, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Does it really say sewing? Not sowing?

    Yes, I’ve done winter sowing in milk jugs. It worked pretty well for certain perennial seeds, but not at all for others. Remembering to water them is the biggest problem (not usually something you think about in winter).

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

    • Susy on March 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Yes it does – thanks for pointing it out. It was late, I was tired – long days of sugaring and working.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Daedre Craig on March 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

        I thought that maybe you got that definition from an old gardening book with alternative spellings. Haha.

        to Daedre Craig's comment

  4. Allison on March 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

    This picture is depressing me a bit. My garden is still covered with about 2 feet of snow. I’m starting to realize that Ohio is a bit warmer. I keep the weather report for Pittsburgh on the front page of my google, and it’s been 10 to 15 degrees above us for about two weeks. I’m glad I bought a seed heating mat!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  5. Nebraska Dave on March 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I have thinking about the same idea of sowing seeds in the fall. I actually tried that with carrots many years ago and had the best carrots ever. I’ve not tried it again only because I took a vacation from gardening for about 25 years. Now that I’m back into the growing of veggies all that garden knowledge is slowing coming back. Seeds managed to grow reproduce and grow again next year without our help for hundreds of years so it’s not beyond belief that seeds sown in the fall will germinate in the Spring. It’s kind of Duh moment don’t you think?

    Have a great almost Spring day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  6. MAYBELLINE on March 4, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Do you consider now to be winter? If so then, yes. I just threw some Candytuft seeds in the front flower bed. More lettuce and beets will be sown this weekend.

    I definitely prefer sowing in place rather than starting indoors.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  7. Sincerely, Emily on March 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Right now I doing a bit of outdoor seed sowing – but then it is warm/hot here already in S. TX. I haven’t done any in the middle of winter. I have done some in late fall, but again it is still warmer here than most places. So I guess my round-about answer is “no”. I have a shelf full of seedlings I have started for the spring planting. The shelve is busting at the seems really. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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