If you follow along on my YouTube channel, you already know that I make an intentional effort to show every step of my seed starting process. This means that I intend to show most, if not all, of this year’s winter sowing into the unheated low tunnel. Since I obviously can’t post 30 videos in one day, I publish them one at a time. This sometimes can cause a problem with timing, as some plants can be planted a lot sooner than the date that the video is listed. In this post, I’ll be making an extensive list of the plants that I’ll be winter sowing this year – and the month by which I’m doing so –
Even though I’ve gotten an early start on winter sowing this year (for the sake of recording videos), I generally begin the winter sowing process around the end of January – more specifically, January 21st. The main reason for this is that this seems to be when the cold has finally settled in for the winter. In my garden, it’s common that temperatures can vary wildly throughout December. Starting at the end of January reduces the chance that a weird “warm spell” of weather will cause the seeds to sprout prematurely in the low tunnel.
Seeds to Winter Sow in January –
In general, January is a good time to winter sow any perennial flower seed that is hardy to your growing zone. Many perennial flowers need cold stratification, and winter sowing will definitely achieve this. January is also the time to winter sow the most cold hardy vegetable plants. Most often, these are early season greens which have trouble thriving once the warm weather of summer arrives.
Most any hardy annual flower can also be winter sown in January. Hardy annual flowers are those which can withstand frost and cold temperatures. I can winter sow any of the flowers that I planted in fall, via the winter sowing method. In addition to flowers, now is also a good time to winter sow perennial hardy herbs. Many herbs can be difficult to germinate, but most respond well to winter sowing. Don’t winter sow any tender herbs (like basil) yet – it’s still much too early.
Here’s what I’m planting –
Spinach, Bachelor’s Buttons, Scabiosa Flowers, Brussel Sprouts, Celery, Celeriac, Lavender, Rosemary, Milkweed, Sage, Echinacea, Gaillardia, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Garbanzo Beans, Strawflowers, Statice, Lettuce Mix, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbages, Agrostemma, Pansies, Sweet Peas, Garden Peas, Snow Peas, Mint, Kale, Collards, etc.
Seeds to Winter Sow in February –
The seeds sown in February are very much similar to those which are sown in February. These plants should demonstrate cold tolerance, as it’s still too cold to begin thinking about sowing tender seeds. In general, I tend to space out my plantings when it’s convenient – some things get planted early, some things get planted later.
Seeds to Winter Sow in March and April –
The process of beginning to winter sow seeds for the summer garden is very much dependent upon when your last frost date is. My last frost date is generally at the end of April, so I begin sowing frost tender seeds at the end of March.
Sowing frost tender seeds is a little bit more tricky than simply sowing the frost tolerant plants. Once seeds have germinated, I have to pay special attention to temperatures. If there is a threat of frost, I have to make certain that I either cover the bottles/plants/low tunnel or completely take them indoors for the night. While I know it sounds like a hassle, the payoff of not have to start all these seeds indoors is the real winner here.
The list of seeds that can be planted during this time frame is essentially endless – even tomatoes and peppers can be planted in this way. However, I do like to give these heat loving seeds a little bit of a jump start (using plastic bags) when it comes to using this method. Zinnias, sunflowers, tithonia, etc.