Winter sowing since winter’s not given up

Tue. Mar. 12, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Winter sowing since winter’s not given up

One of my go-to nurseries for native plants, Prairie Moon, sent me an email talking about, what they call, “snow-sowing”.  Since winter’s not giving up many are talking about winter sowing. That is sowing seeds over the snow. What?

It’s called dormant seeding and is a technique used in hand sowing larger areas, say a wildflower or grassy area.  Well, it takes care of what’s called “stratifying”. Cold-moist stratification occurs before the first growing season; resulting in a more successful establishment of forbs (wildflowers) and sedges, which are often overwhelmed by the grasses, you get good seed-soil contact without disturbing the soil, there’s higher soil moisture at the time of germination and less need to water the site  and you can sow small and large seed together. Here’s the link to the full instructions on their website.  Follow the dormant seeding instructions.  

natural prairie

Another idea from the University of MN is to start those seeds in a milk jug outside!  Won’t it freeze?  Why, yes, it will.  

U of MN

This method is typically used to give your vegetables a good start–it’s great for cool season veggies in particular kale and spinach. UMN Extension Master Gardener Theresa Rooney says annuals and perennial seeds also work just fine. However, she’s found that seeds for more tropical plants will not grow.  

  • Cut a clear milk jug nearly in half leaving a 1 inch hinge under the handle. Make sure you have room for at least 2 inches of soil from the bottom and add another inch!  
  • Plant only one kind of seed in each container. Water it so it looks like mud, duct tape it closed, label it.
  • Take it outside and poke holes in the bottom to drain it.