The Beginning of the Winter Sowing Season

It’s that time again – time to start thinking about winter sowing! Hooray! I’m so excited!

In the past, I’ve only winter sowed using milk jugs and other containers. Last year, I ended up with well over 200 bottles sitting in the backyard – it was a complete mess! This year, I’ve decided to try something a little different. Instead of milk jugs, I’ll be using seed starting trays and a small low tunnel covered in plastic. Even though I’ve never seen anyone do this before, my gardening instinct tells me that this method will also be successful. Sometime next week, I hope to post about my seed starting set up in more detail. For now, I just wanted to quickly show some of the seeds that I have started to sow.

This year, I’m experimenting with growing artichokes again. I’m trying to winter sow them, and hoping that the warmer than usual temperatures will trigger the seeds to germinate. In general, I wouldn’t recommend winter sowing them because the seeds tend to rot when they’re wet and cold. I had a few seeds left in my packet, so I couldn’t resist sowing them and trying to get a bloom. It seems almost impossible to grow artichokes here in zone 6. You’ll also notice that I used the soil blocker. I really like soil blockers, but honestly, I find them to be way too time consuming. I’m only one person, and I don’t have a “farm crew” working for me. For me, I think I’m going to stick to just sowing in trays without the blocks. I hope that makes sense –

I also started some more scabiosa seeds for the spring. This season I just ordered a packet of mixed color seeds from Johnny’s. I consider scabiosa to be a hardy annual flower, because they will overwinter in my garden with protection from a fall planting. If anyone missed the fall planting window or are growing them for the first time, the seeds definitely respond well to the winter sowing method. I’m not sure whether they actually need cold stratification, but in this case, nature will take care of that naturally. I always tend to surface sow these seeds, making sure that they come into good contact with the soil.

I also started some garbanzo bean seeds in a tray this winter. I attempted to grow garbanzo beans last year, and was marginally successful. Much like pea seeds, garbanzo beans really seem to enjoy cooler temperatures, and need as much growth time in the spring as possible. The plants’ foliage looks very pretty and the purple flowers are somewhat unique – originally I wanted to grow them for cut flowers. Of course, you can harvest the chickpeas when the time is right. Hopefully my plants will mature this coming season. 

Early winter is also the perfect time to start winter sowing perennial flower seeds. A lot of perennial flowers can be really difficult to grow from seed due to their germination requirements. The great thing about winter sowing is that (in most cases) these requirements are naturally met. I’m sowing a couple different types of perennial flowers this year including echinacea. Since I’ve never tried to winter sow purple coneflowers before, I’m really excited to see whether or not I’ll be successful.

I’m also sowing quite a bit of lavender from seed. Lavender is notoriously tricky to start from seed, but I’ve had great results with winter sowing it. Last year, I sowed a small package of 14 lavender seeds. Of those, 10 germinated! I planted the seedlings into the garden, but I accidentally pulled them out with the weeds sometime during the summer.

Last, but not least, I started a tray filled with celery and celeriac. I really like trying new things, and this year is no exception. I’ve grown celery in the past with some success, but I’m determined to keep the garden bed free of weeds this year!

That’s all for this post, but there is definitely more seed starting to be done. I’ll be sure to update the blog as the season progresses. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog. It really means a lot. I hope you’re having a great day!

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