How’d Your Winter-Sown Seeds Do?

August 25, 2013

NOW THAT SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER (waaah!), my inquiring mind wants to know: How’d your winter-sown seeds do? My report, followed (I hope!), by yours:

As you can see, I planted lots of seeds in gallon-size milk and water jugs last January. They were watered by rain, sleet, ice, and snow. In spring, almost all of the seeds germinated. Here are just a few of them:Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’ (this nocturnal creature releases its strong, infinitely-inhalable scent from dusk until dawn)…

Nicotiana ‘Purple Perfume’ (a lovely color, but not so sweet as its white-petaled kin)…

Coreopsis

Sweet Alyssum (common, I know, but I love the honeyed-scent!)…

Lupines (I winter-sow these every year, and then add them to the existing Lupine-patch in the Serpentine Garden)…

Dill (every seed germinated, leaving me with enough to furnish the entire neighborhood if not county)…

Lettuces (frisee, leaf, and romain)…

And heirloom tomatoes! (Yes, these can be winter-sowed even in my cold, zone 5-b region.)

How’d your own winter-sowing efforts pay off? Think you’ll use the method again? Talk to me in the comments field below!

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Unfamiliar with the concept of winter-sowing? Be sure to read these posts:
Winter-Sowing 101
How to Turn a Milk (or Water) Jug into a Greenhouse
What to Winter-Sow…& When

Comments

  1. Carol Samsel says:

    The few things that I did try sprouted but our unusually wet,wet,wet spring seemed to drown most everything once it was planted and what did survive the wet was eaten by rabbits :( I am however going to try it again and plant more things this winter. Hopefully Mother Nature will be more co-operative next Spring.

  2. Donna says:

    The only thing I tried winter sowing with was my tomatoes… I’m doubtful that I’ll get any ripe fruit this year :( I’m in a Zone 9a (maybe).

  3. Margis says:

    My many WS containers were almost a total disaster. Thank goodness I had plants indoors under lights. I am really reluctant to try it again.

  4. Jody says:

    Kevin,
    I actually never used this method, but I just had to tell you this. Two years ago, I received a packet of wildflower seeds, and I planted them in a pot in the spring. I got all sorts of stuff-bby’s breath, sunflower and a kind of coreopsis. I left this pot out over the winter and some plants survived, particularly the baby’s breath and the coreopsis.
    Anyway, here is (finally) my point: this coreopsis is called Tall Coreopsis. This is a great and strong perennial and I think it’s really nice! I just planted them in my garden. They are very tall stems with lots of small yellow flowers with some brown. Once ithe blooms die, you cut back and it blooms again very strong. I am on my third bloom this season. Could be used for a bright pop of yellow at the back of a border, but it also looked nice in the pot , or just plant a bunch of it somewhere. It is strong because it is a wildflower. I do wonder if it spreads a lot though.

  5. steve cantrell says:

    many (like almost all) did not germinate at all… i had trouble keeping the seeds (and then seedlings in some instances) moist w our dry santa fe, nm climate. however, will try again as the survivors look wonderful in my garden and i love not having to pay nursery prices for perennials!

  6. Robin says:

    I love this method of winter sowing and it is very successful for me. I do a lot of these full of tender things under the cold frame, but the double cover of the jug top and the cold frame top are perfect for early starts of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplant, leeks and onions. This has allowed me to garden 12 months of the year in my zone 5-b garden in southern Indiana. Definitely a winner!

  7. Roxann says:

    I had about a dozen “gallon jug greenhouses” sitting in my backyard this winter, waiting the arrival of spring. I planted tomatoes, red peppers, zinnias, candy tufts, black-eyed Susans, kale, green peppers, squash, pumpkin, watermelon, delphiniums, and cantaloupe. I experienced either amazing success or total failure, depending on whether it was a fruit or a vegetable seed I planted. Every type of flower I planted survived and is thriving in my yard. The kale produced more kale than I can consume and/or give away. The tomatoes were a total failure. The red peppers are small and green, but I’m still thinking I’ll be able to harvest some. The squash and pumpkin really didn’t do very well. I ended up with one plant of each variety surviving and a friend supplemented me with some of hers that she raised indoors in a huge southern window. I’m already thinking about what I’ll plant again next year, using the same method. My neighbors are saving me their gallon jugs and I plan to plant a LOT fewer flower seeds in each gallon jug because transplanting seedlings that are really close together is a headache. We had a very dry winter last winter and I ended up having to manually water and that may have been the cause of the failure of some of my “crops.” Too wet? Too dry? Anyway, it was a great way to start seedlings. I do NOT like having the mess inside my home, and having Mother Nature take care of the work suits me just fine;) Thanks for the great idea.

  8. Sara in Indiana says:

    Winter-sown marigolds,alyssum, scallions, spinach, and cosmos all did well, and I liked the relatively easy care routine! Zinnias did okay, but are just now blooming–is that normal? Petunias and pansies survived and grew very slowly, but have yet to bloom. I will winter sow again, but will adjust which seeds I choose according to what my results were. Good to see your plants all did well! Look forward to your post every Sunday.

  9. jean says:

    Well Kevin,

    On the whole, mine did great! My problem was my timing was off as we had just moved to Indiana and the beds weren’t ready when the plants were. Still, everything I winter sowed did well except I didn’t get any columbine (might have been a bad packet of seeds) The tiny tomato plants I set out and they were tiny are now over 5 ft tall and full of wonderful tomatoes. The swiss chard I winter sowed were much healthier and bigger than what I direct sowed in the garden. The lupines did great but never bloomed, not sure why. Everything was very healthy and I am sold on your system of winter sowing. Can’t wait until this year as the timing will be so much better. Now if I can just keep those pesky raccoons from eating my popcorn that is still in the field I will be happy. I put a radio in the garden at night and set it to talk radio. They think there are humans there and haven’t been back. What a simple solution except my dog gets up in the middle of the night, 3:30 a.m and barks because she thinks someone is in the garden. LOL Ms. Lily will have to have a talk with her over tea and explain all she knows. LOL Thanks for all the good information. I tell everyone about your website and how wonderful it is. I made your cheese straws twice so far and everyone loves them. What a simple recipe that looks so elegant when done. Happy Fall

  10. Stephanie says:

    I didn’t do well. I had good luck with many of my herb seeds, but the plants have grown slowly in the garden. I think I transplanted too late and watered too little. Next time I will make some provision for bottom watering so as not to accidentally drown tender seedlings, and will water more frequently. Thankfully I planted mostly perennial herbs/flowers so they should start doing better next year!

  11. Shawna says:

    A total success!! I hate winter, but I am almost looking forward to Jan/Feb so I can do this again!! Kale, nicotiana, chard, snapdragons, hollyhock…they all did really well!! I will be increasing the types of seeds I start this year. The only thing I would do differently is label the jugs a different way; all faded so badly it was impossible to tell what was what. Perhaps writing inside the cover would work better? I will try several different ways to see which works best. Thank you so much Kevin for this fabulous way of starting seeds. I have never had such success!!!

  12. Pete Kinyon says:

    I didn’t find out about this method until kind of late, but did mesclun and other salad greens, wildflowers, chives, blanket flower and black-eyed-Susan. They all did well. I only had one container not sprout and those were old seeds. I also used 1/2 gallon and quart jugs successfully. The one lesson I learned is that it’s worth the extra time and effort to use a damp toothpick to place each seed instead of just scattering them. That way makes TOO MANY PLANTS all jumbled together. I planted a few salad mixes by clumps instead of individual plants because of that, but they still did fine.

  13. Kate Wilson says:

    I hope to do better next year. lol.. I don’t know what happened, Montana’s weather? Seeds too old? Wrong location?

  14. Jackie Peschong says:

    I can’t wait to do this again. Great success! I put all the jugs out in February. No veggies, just flowers. Last Thanksgiving I harvested seeds from my sister’s hollyhocks in Tiverton, Rhode Island. We always had hollyhocks where we grew up in South Dakota. I am delighted to say with winter sowing, beautiful pink, double, hollyhocks are blooming in my garden! Thanks, Kevin, for all of the great ideas you post.

  15. Cindy M says:

    Good Afternoon Kevin!

    First off I need to thank you for this great way of growing seedlings. The hubby unfortunately didn’t share the same feelings and WAS rather irate that “someone” gave me yet another way of cluttering our deck all winter long. After the great success we’ve had he has now changed his opinion and sends you his thanks too! While most everyone I mentioned this project to thought I was totally insane they now have a much higher opinion of the method. I have 3 dozen tomato plants growing out back, only 4 that I purchased, and the winter sown ones have been producing since late June! I did plant some of those in homemade hoop houses (you should try those, they’re great!) and they took off the best. Mind you when I opened those containers and saw how pitiful and sad they looked, I had little hope for them. Once in the garden they thrived! Even the ones I planted in containers on the deck are huge and producing lots. Pumpkins, beans, chard, corn and cukes did equally as well, flowers not so much. Of the 10 different flowers I tried only the Foxglove have done really well. I’ve never been able to get these to grow from seed so this was a shock! Both my yard and my Dad’s are filled, hopefully next year they’ll flower. Hollyhocks, daisies and poppies died out. The rest did ok in the beginning but due to all the wet weather they just didn’t make it. What did manage to survive are small and kind of thin looking but who knows, maybe they’ll survive the winter and come back bigger and better next year. A truly fun project but best of all none of the failures will stop me from trying again this winter !Here’s to hoping next year is better!
    Cindy:)
    PS…. Shawna…. I found a great way to mark your containers.. I used plastic cutlery, marked them and threw one inside each container… Worked just fine and gave me plant markers for the garden as well!

  16. Donna says:

    Kevin:

    I’m an old gardener but you taught me a new trick! I love winter-sowing and plan to do it every winter – makes winter tolerable! Grew tomatoes, peppers, popcorn, marigolds, baptisia, lupine, scallions, lettuce, okra,bachelor buttons, hydrangea arborescens radiata, dill, goldenrods, wild senna…it was great! Will use less lettuce seed this winter as I used too much and it ended up like a very thick carpet. Tomato plants were better than I ever grew on a heat mat indoors – not leggy at all. Thanks so much – am passing this along to friends and students – it’s wonderful.

    Donna

  17. Stef says:

    I sowed tomatoes and peppers. They did wonderfully. I have been harvesting since mid July!
    I will do this every winter!

  18. Jackie Peschong says:

    In reading the posts of other gardener’s, I see that many dislike thinning as much as I do. In the last few years, I’ve used a method that cuts down thinning. If you have time, cut strips of tissue paper, the kind you use in a gift bag, use a dab of water and flour paste on the end of a toothpick, and choose how far apart you want the seeds to be, dab the paste, attach a seed with a tweezers or dampened toothpick, label the strip of tissue paper as to name of seed and recommended depth, sun or shade, set it aside to dry, and go on to the next strip. Using wider strips will allow you to plant in patterns rather than just in straight lines. I use the cheapest tissue paper so it gets soggy and disintegrates in the soil after a couple of waterings. As soon as I prepare the strips, I also prepare my wooden name stakes so once I am in the garden, I remember what I’ve planted and where. Try to plant your strips within two or three days of using the flour/water paste as it tends to dry out and your seeds may fall from the strips. I know this is too labor intensive for some gardeners, but I have the time and my gardens are not large. Happy gardening.

  19. Sadly only the tomatoes did anything. I had one sunflower out of a dozen. Summer was a bust here. Maybe it has to do with the triple digit temps we had for a weeks on end.

  20. Beverly, zone 6 eastern PA says:

    The best performer for my 2013 winter jugs were the Miniature Balloon Flowers, blue Platycodons. Right now I have 15 pots of them gaining strength in half shade, each pot has at least 4 seedlings in it, many of which have bloomed ! I am watching them carefully and monitoring their water needs, removing seedpods and weeds.

    The second best performers were Munstead Lavenders which were spectacular! I separated them painstakingly into 34 individual plants, potted them in small pots in fast draining soil, watched them closely, but found them needing watering almost daily even in half shade. I decided to plant them (early July). Two days later the heat wave started. At its height, we had 98 degrees with high humidity, heat indices at 105. The scorching heat went on for many, many days. The seedlings crisped like toast, one after another, and broke my heart. All were vigorous, healthy, on a strong upward arc, well branched…. then DEAD. Crap. I did not pay for any seeds since I used my own mature Munstead Lavender for seed collecting, but the time and energy invested went unrewarded. Still, I will do it again. A lesson was learned!

    The third best performers were Candelabra Primroses, dark pink, prolific – 25 seedlings. They remain a bit small, but hanging on, separated into pots. They’ll be planted before late fall.

    Winter sowing jugs are the perfect way to start the gardening season. You can set it all up in February when nothing else is going on and feel you’ve been productive, scratching that gardening “itch” of late winter.

  21. Joan E says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Everything I sowed grew into beautiful plants. Tomato,cabbage,spinach, coreopsis,balloon, carolina jasmine, hibiscus,sweet peppers,purple corn,cauliflower,and cucumbers. Already have plans for next year…..

  22. Claudia says:

    I too am an experienced older garden who learned the new trick! It tend to sow all year for many crops. I can now have better controlled environments hooray. Beets to then not have to thin so much, plenty of basil, kale, parsley, onions, chard all kinds of Asian and Mediterranean greens, will soon replace the tomatoes, , winter and summer squashes , cucumber, kale, peppers, herbs. I still do plenty in the ground like beans and turnips, onion sets and potatoes….Due to migrating birds, I usually had wait and then plant over grown starts, but this method has been a time energy and $ saver for me! Best year ever…. Thank you so much! Your fan……

  23. Sandra says:

    I had good luck with my heirloom tomatoes. I had to dig up everything in the back yard in order to build a gazebo and a fence for privacy. Everything is almost finished. I now how a really nice private area to work on potting and growing .
    I tried rooting boxwood cuttings in the milk jugs. After 5 months they now have about 2 little roots. I am wanting ti edge the new beds with the boxwood,but I guess being so tiny I should transplant them into smaller pots first. I have a lighted grow stand . Any suggestions on how to proceed? I live in nw Florida, zone 8.

  24. Nancy says:

    First timer in zone 5. Absolutely sold on it! Will be saving many more milk jugs for this winter.Can’t wait for the seed catologs to arrive!

  25. Cathy says:

    I LOVE winter sowing! I’ve been doing it for 6 or 7 years at least and always have at least some success. Right now the daisies in my side yard are from the 2012 planting. Also sweet william. This year I grew several kinds of dianthus, batchelor buttons, orange cosmos, golden alyssum, Bellis daisies, linaria, love lies bleeding, decorative chard and ice plant. I’m already saving up gallon jugs for this coming winter.

  26. badger gardener says:

    Great success this year, even if I have had to share much of my work w/ the neighborhood rabbits. Hyssop is just starting to bloom and I hadn’t expected to see blooms until next year on those. Morning glories are fabulous. All the veggies are very productive except my tadifi eggplant which looks healthy but only produced its first flower today.

    I have to make an important correction to our winter seed conversation. RH Shumway, part of Jung Seeds has NO CONNECTION TO MONSANTO.. A local farmer told me the story and you can find it on the Jung Seeds website: The original company was divided between the founder’s children w/ the daughter getting the home garden business and the son getting the farm seed business. The son’s company eventually became Jung Seed Genetics which did sell out to Monsanto, but Jung Seeds still remains in family hands. I utterly regret spreading misinformation about Jung Seeds and RH Shumway (and am glad I can order from there next year).

  27. Helga G says:

    I started WS year before and again last year. Mostly Greens like Kales, Spinach, Mustards, Chard and Lettuce and Salad mixes. Usually they do great. This year I tried some “Kitchen Garden Mix” from Pinetree Garden Seeds. Was cutting Salad greens until the end of July until the heat got the better of it. Will try some Tomatoes and maybe “Peppers?” for next year.
    Ps: Kevin, about your “Florida Weave” attempt I looked at some ads for it and decided, it looked a little to flimsy for my taste. Stick with the sturdy JC system. I did mine with Bamboo Poles one of my Neighbors is only to happy to “dispose” of. Their Loss, my Gain :-)
    Thank you for your wonderful website
    Helga G

  28. Kathleen- Zone 8b Calif. says:

    The plants came up later then when I liked. I was already sowing seeds in the garden by the time they sprouted in the jugs. Not sure what went wrong with my tomatoes as they came up and I planted them in the garden and then they died. I think I got a disease as they turned yellow and just gave up. The volunteers are putting out tomatoes so at least I get some. I will try again as it was fun and maybe pick different things then Tomatoes and Peppers. I grow cabbages, lettuce, bunching onions, carrots, rutabagas and Kohlrabi in the ground in the winter if I get them in early enough in the summer and then cover with straw.

  29. Kelly M says:

    I winter sowed a bunch of stuff after reading your posts about it and it pretty much all grew. One question …. my winter sown lupins sprouted and I planted them in my garden where they grew and looked nice and green but they never got flower spikes. Will they come back next year or do I need to start over again?
    Love all your winter sowing information and am planning to expand my choices this year …. nicotiana for SURE !!

  30. Hi Kelly M – Lupines are perennial. I usually get a few blooms late the first year. But the big show occurs the second year, when the plants explode with spires of blue, red, pink, yellow or white.

  31. Honor says:

    I started everything a bit late and everything got off to a slow start. I also used some old seed packets, so I’m sure some were duds. The tomatoes that I planted were tiny but are now pulling down their supports. If the frost holds off I should have some wonderful yields in my second vegetable garden. The tomatoes I planted earlier in the “first” bed were out there for some of the very rainy weather and did succumb to blight. I should have mulched them better. I’m looking forward to using winter sowing for perennials for next year-plan to ruthlessly rip out a lot of overgrown beds this fall, smother with cardboard then replant and MULCH extremely generously next spring. Any faults in the garden this year are attributable to weird weather and a procrastinating gardener. I’d better order some mulch soon to let sit over the winter–August (!!!) has been my mulching month and my previously composted mulch pile is substantially diminished. Will definitely winter sow–hope you will post again when you begin, as I think if I follow your timetable I’ll do better next year.

  32. Heidi Young says:

    My tomatoes did great. Thank you for the advice..Will definitely do it again …this was my first real garden..I’m so addicted that I’m planning on adding three more raised beds.

  33. Heather says:

    I loved winter sowing! I had never even heard of it before I saw your website last winter. My sister has two kids and she saved about a dozen jugs for me. I also used some 2 liter soda bottles I had lying around. I planted Black Eyed Susan, True Lavender, Hollyhocks, Shasta Daisy, Thyme, Blue Fescue, etc. Everything I planted in the milk jugs grew; everything I planted in the soda bottles died. I think the slightly opaque jugs offer more protection than the clear soda bottles. Why did I ever deviate from your perfect plan?! The lavender and BES grew and bloomed perfectly, the hollyhocks will hopefully bloom next. The thyme is tasty and next year I plan to try winter sowing all my herbs: I grow four varieties of basil and more than a dozen other things as well, hopefully there will be no purchased starts at all. Thanks for the winter sowing instructions and all the great tips!

  34. Ellen says:

    My experience was anything but an overwhelming success Of the 6 jugs I planted with three flowers only one jug sprouted and one plant, a lupine, survived. I’m sure timing and weather were critical factors. I will try again this winter and hope that the weather is more conducive to WS.

    I do have one question about placement of the jugs. I live in Zone 4 where the sunny side of my home often gets 1-3 feet of snow that stays for the winter. Will the lack of winter sun for up to 3 or 4 months seriously affect my WS efforts?

    I’m hoping to start plants to populate a large, new flower bed.

  35. Sheila says:

    Bachelor buttons were excellent – I did the dark purple/black ones I forget what they are called but they grew very tall and still flowering.
    Painted daisies perennial sprouted extremely well. The seedlings of course didn’t bloom this year, but I will keep you posted in the spring.
    Lavender was almost a complete bust, only got 3 seedlings out of 2 jugs – but those 3 seedlings are thriving in my patio garden. No blooms this year but the plants are pretty substantial.
    Only 2 lupine survived -very tiny
    Columbine were the last to sprout, I had almost given up hope but ended up with tons of seedlings
    Also fleabane sprouted well too ( which is weird because it didn’t last year and I used seeds from the same packet)
    I did all of mine in January I think and I’m in 5b. Every jug sprouted something and I planted about 10. I got my seeds from Botanical Interests. I’d like to try herbs and veggies next year. Thank you so much for sharing this idea!

  36. Melanie P. says:

    I wrote this on another post on here but I never heard back. I hope you can help. I live in zone 5B too but in northern Nevada which is high desert. I did the winter sowing and everything dried up. I realized about a week after I sowed them that with our low humidity (10% or so) I needed to keep them moist so I started misting them daily but they still didn’t come up. Hopefully you or one of your readers will have a suggestion for me because I hope to try again. Thanks for your advice & recipes.

  37. Kris Fox says:

    Me, I did not do too well. A lot of my seeds (sweet peas, morning glories, columbine, lupine, carnation) germinated and grew bautifully in their little hothouses. But nothing transplanted well. My strong and beautiful sweet peas just shriveled. The lupines and columbine ceased growing when transplanted. The morning glories did not make it, either. I am not giivng up–next year I will try stronger annuals, perhaps zinnias. The nicotiana you grew looked terrific, so perhaps, those, too. Anyways, it gave me something to do in the doldrums of winter!

  38. Angie says:

    My attempt at winter sowing produced an excellent number of seedlings, which transplanted well and seemed to be taking off wonderfully. What I discovered as the plants began to bloom (Yellow Lupine, Blue Lupine, Calendula, Batchelor Buttons-white and blue) is that the roots/stems of the plants didn’t seem to be very strong because they did not grow up straight. The base of almost all of them laid on the ground…..so at first they looked beautiful, but as the plants grew and bloomed…the weight of the plant caused them to lie on the ground instead of stand up straight. I planted some seeds directly into the ground and those plants grew up straight and tall….I’m wondering what might have caused the weakness in the winter sown plants? Maybe I left them in the jugs too long? I’m in zone 5B. I started some in mid-February, some in early March and transplanted by Mother’s Day.

  39. Behold says:

    The tomatoes I winter-sowed took longer to fruit than plants I bought but they also didn’t sprout as early as I had hoped. I think it was due to the cool spring we had. My sunflowers did well – at least the ones that weren’t eaten by rabbits or chipmunks. My dill was completely eaten by rabbits – at least someone enjoyed them. I will definitely try this again next year and do more varieties. Last winter I just did some seeds I had on hand.

  40. Joanne Wine says:

    I had not seen this idea so am glad to read this and will be trying it. We were just talking about how to start seeds for next year’s garden/flowers. Thank you for so much….I keep learning!

  41. Diane Kratz says:

    I had a few things grow, but my plants are minuscule compared to what could be bought in the store. I will try again next year. Maybe I should have planted them out in the garden or beds sooner than I did.

  42. gloria says:

    Here’s a question for you, Kevin. All my seeds germinated and I had way more of everything than I could use. Gave away a lot. The seeds I used were all old. Some even more than a couple years, because I had a hard time finding seeds in the stores around here that early in the winter. What do you suggest for this coming winter’s sowing–any good mail order places that are not too expensive? Or should I just continue to buy what’s in the stores now, at the end of August?

  43. Anne says:

    Zone 5A — Kevin, would it just be too cold here even if I started a couple of weeks or even a month later than you did in 5B, or would the time difference compensate sufficiently for this method to work? I really don’t have room for starting more than about twenty seeds indoors, and it is not that warm indoors anyway in the room with enough light for plants. What do you think about using your bottle method indoors to keep the plants warmer when the sun does shine in? Maybe I will give that a try.

  44. Anne says:

    It would be helpful, perhaps to everyone, if people who comment give their zone . . . .

  45. Marlene zone 6 says:

    Peas were so much stronger and survived till mid July! Brassicas did great as did every other thing I WS’ed. ONE suggestion may I offer from personal experience when transplanting or even WS’ing I check farmersalmanac.com under best gardening days. I had so little failures because according to the moon there are some days that are just better to sow seeds and transplant. EVERYTHING not only survived but thrived when I followed the best days to plant. It is a free site and I didn’t want to risk a failure when the best days for roots or above ground were then transcribed to my own garden calender. WS my cucurbits in early May and transplanted in the garden in June because of a late May freeze. With crop rotation everything just thrived. Thanks for taking the time to show recipes and your garden!

  46. Donna says:

    I gave it the old college try this winter… big failure… However… I did have good success with direct fall planting into the garden.. I think I’m going to give that another try and see what I can direct sow.. Thanks for the tips though Kevin.. I love this page

  47. Carole68 says:

    I am so on board and will never sow any other way :)
    I sowed : clarkia, baby’s breath, bachelor’s buttons, dianthus, sunflowers (40 of them and my colleagues were happy I shared – the slugs as well…), spinach, snapdragon, poppies, agrostemma (100 % success)… some seeds that were old did not amount to anything (alyssum, drumond phlox, scented stock). The only total failure are the tomatoes, I’ll sow them later next year.
    The problem, though, was our wet, wet, wet and cold spring (well, technically we had no spring). Some things, once in the garden, became a feast for the slugs and snakes (like my sweet peas). Others rotted in the marshy clay ground (the lupines didn’t like it). Then later there was the overload of work at school and the fact that some patches in the garden were still full of weeds so I didn’t get to plant the seedlings – some I did much later than they should have been and others died in their container. I will definitely learn from my mistakes and I have already started some new containers with the freshly collected poppy, and columbine seeds. They can stay outside as long as necessary and won’t get smothered by weeds ; I’m looking forward to seeing the results with hopefully better and drier conditions, and a proper spring season next year. Greetings and thanks from Alsace, France.

  48. Sonnie Croft says:

    All my seeds. came up as promised…all except for some very old verbascum. I only did a few this year, but will do lots more this winter. Thanks for the very good tip!

  49. Diane from Boston says:

    Spinach, parsley, broccoli, peas, dahlias, and zinnias all did great. Likewise tomatoes (four varieties), marigolds, basil, and fairy tale eggplant. My one failure was a packet of nicotiana seeds. My God, those seeds are like dust. I got one lonely little plant. But it is a game wee thing and still blooming its head off.

  50. katy says:

    All of mine (besides cucumbers) did well. I have NEVER had success growing peppers before and, by winter sowing, I was able to have 5 plants this year! I am planning on doing A LOT more this winter and I tell EVERYONE about your method. THANK YOU! I refuse to buy lights & heating mats and our house is in the woods so starting indoors was impossible – you can imagine how difficult/impossible it was to grow tomato and pepper plants before using this method!

  51. Henrietta says:

    Everything that I winter sowed did well.

  52. Ann Marie B. says:

    My cucumbers and peas did well before the heat took them. I was able to make some pickles. My tomatillo plants are still going (but are not fruiting) and so are my okras. Okras seem to be the only thing that really thrives in our 100+ degrees weather. We have had an abundant crop of them this year. In fact, I picked some this morning and have already made some fried okras. Other than fried okras, I’ve made jambalaya, pickled okras and roasted okras.

  53. Sylvia says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I tried your milk-bottle method in my Tarrytown garden.

    It worked very nicely for love lies bleeding, larkspur, morning glories, cosmos, lettuce, parsley, but so did direct sowing. The direct-sown seedlings emerged later, but bloomed about the same time.

    It was far superior, though, for flower varieties with tiny seeds like poppies, nicotiana, and foxgloves.

    Thanks for a great idea!

    Sylvia

  54. Janice says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Happy holidays!!

    I just wanted to say that in 2013 I did winter sowing (in OR) for the first time and I had a terrific garden. I also use Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening. My tomatoes and my kale were earth shattering (to me of course) :)

    It is almost January and I am getting prepped for another year of winter sowing. I expect to have a great garden again this Spring in 2014.

    Thank you so much for your Blog. I save every episode and refer back frequently.

    Here is wishing you, your partner, and the rest of your family a safe and wonderful holiday!!

    With warm regards,
    Janice

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