Winter sowing is a technique used to grow seeds even when the temperatures are below freezing. The containers are prepped and left outside so the rest of the work is left to Mother Nature. The seeds have a special coating that breaks down with the freezing and thawing of the soil. By allowing the seeds to do this on their own creates hardier and more robust plants. Recycled clear plastic containers are used as a mini greenhouses for these young seedlings and provide warmer temperatures and a more moist environment. To create your own winter sowing containers, punch holes in the top and bottom of multiple clear plastic containers. This lets excess water drain out and allows the plants to transpire. If using milk jugs or two liter bottles, they will have to be cut in half first. Fill up the bottoms with moistened potting soil and plant your seeds. The seeds best for planting are hardy annuals and any perennial herbs and flowers. Once planted, water the soil, label the containers, and tape any containers that were cut in half back together and take off the lids. Now, all that's left to do is wait for spring and warm weather. Moisture will have to be checked at this stage and once the plants start reaching the tops of the containers, remove the lids but remember to make sure they do not dry out.
Jackie from the Inn at Valley Farms and I tried a bit of an experiment, we planted some seeds in the high tunnel and some in the winter sowing containers in hopes of observing the differences in the way the seeds germinate and grow. Already, some of the Bachelor's Buttons have begun growing after only three weeks! The warm weather is approaching and that means fresh vegetables again soon!