Winter seed sowing and indoor planting

Tue. Feb. 23, 2016

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Winter seed sowing and indoor planting

I live in Zone 4b and we are having a “heat” wave at the moment which means our 12 inches of snow is nearly gone, certainly from sunny grass areas!

winter seed sowing
winter seed sowing

You still have a week to get outside and plant native seed.  Yes, I said plant!  According to Prairie Moon Nursery, from late October thru the month of February is a good time to broadcast native seed for a prairie.  Planting now gives Mother Nature time to stratify seeds and work them into the ground through freeze-thaw cycles.   Growing native plants from seed.

If you’re looking to start sowing seeds indoors, here’s a primer for what you’ll need:

  • a place to put your seedlings!
  • sterile containers or peat pots or those peat pellets
  • soil-less seed starting mix
  • light (I use an old shop light on a pulley system)
  • heating mat
  • fan
  • seeds!  Check out this comprehensive article about Seed Starting by the University of Minnesota Extension

Place your planted seeds on a heating mat.  These are relatively inexpensive and well worth having, especially if you place your seeds in the basement.  Bottom heat will help your seeds germinate and will also help prevent Damping Off.  Once your seeds sprout, they’ll need light.  Always check out your seed packet for information on germination, soil and light conditions.  Generally speaking, your seedlings will need anything from 12 to 16 hours a day.  Tomatoes and peppers are a good example of 16 hour a day lighting.  Keep the light about 6 inches from the top of the seedlings (thus the pulley system).

pepper seedlings with shoplight
pepper seedlings with shoplight


This photo was taken a long time ago when I was just getting into it!  NOW, I place my seedlings in peat pots in a tray on top of the mat.  You can then bottom water the plants and it keeps them from drying out so quickly.  Also it’s less messy!  Letting a fan gently blow across your seedlings will help strengthen their stems.  Leave the fan on for about an hour a day.

seedlings pre heatmat and pulley system!
seedlings pre heatmat and pulley system!


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