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RE: All in one place. (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: token28001 on 04.05.2010 at 06:11 am in Winter Sowing Forum

The idea is basic, just steep and aerate. Here's a recipe.


clipped on: 04.06.2010 at 10:52 pm    last updated on: 04.06.2010 at 10:52 pm

RE: hmmm....tomatoes (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: token28001 on 02.21.2010 at 07:26 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Beefsteak is an excellent slicing tomato. If you apply Miracle Gro as soon as the fruits form, and about every 2 weeks after, you'll have huge tomatoes. Be sure to add about a 1/4 cup of lime to the top of the container every other time you fertilize. Miracle Gro and other chemical fertilizers can acidify your soil, especially in a container, and cause blossom end rot. My grandma used to drop a piece of chalk in the hole when she planted her tomatoes for the same effect. If you notice yellow leaves, common in containers, add a spoonful of Epson Salt to one of your waterings. It'll add back magnesium which helps the plant take up nutrients.


clipped on: 02.22.2010 at 04:48 pm    last updated on: 02.22.2010 at 04:49 pm

RE: Doing homework for the veggie patch... (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: lgslgs on 11.23.2009 at 04:44 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Trudi - that's just on side cut out, using a jigsaw on it's high setting.

Here's what it looks like without the soil in it:

Tire garden

We've also got larger tires, like this canna tire (WS cannas sown in April '09, photo in August '09.)
Canna tire



clipped on: 11.25.2009 at 10:08 am    last updated on: 11.25.2009 at 10:08 am

RE: help, I need some veggie and herb recommendations (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: token28001 on 11.24.2009 at 09:02 am in Winter Sowing Forum

Plant romas and basil in the same space. They help each other. It's called companion planting. The bugs that attack tomatoes don't like the smell of basil. Scatter some marigolds around as well.

Pole beans are good. Kentucky Wonder is a good variety. Blue lake is another. Grow them on a trellis with cucumbers. If you like squash, two or three plants at the base of the trellis will work well too.

Plant the lettuce behind the trellis. In spring, the sun will hit the lettuce. By mid summer, it'll need shade and the cukes will do that as they grow up the trellis. Pole beans too.

All these things can also be wintersown, but be sure you have a tomato with a short DTM (Days to maturity). Determinates take up more horizontal space and ripen within about 2 weeks. Indeterminate varieties take more vertical space and need staking, but can produce all summer long. Be sure you deadhead the basil if you see flowers. Just whack it back and it'll regrow new leaves.


clipped on: 11.24.2009 at 12:41 pm    last updated on: 11.24.2009 at 12:42 pm

RE: Can't clear up pond water, have tried everything! (Follow-Up #29)

posted by: pat_c on 05.19.2008 at 05:48 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Here's an old trick Horton taught me years ago. Take a clean tall kitchen trash can. Cut a series of holes in the side at the bottom. Do this on only one side of the trash can. Get a box of poly batt at walmart. Unwind it and stuff it in the bottom of the trash can and set the trash can at the edge of the pond with the side with the holes facing toward the pond. Then run a hose from your pond to the top of the trash can. The water will fill the can and run down thru the batt and filter. Then it will run out the holes in the can back into the pond. Run this for 2-3 days and I promise the pond will clear. You will have to clean the Batt evry so often but it will trap all that suspended algae. I only had to do this once and my pond cleared and stayed clear.
I do agree with the others that rocks on the bottom only invite trouble. They look good for a week and then spoil the pond beacuse they WILL get covered with algae. Then, you can't see them anyway so what's the point?
The only other product I ever had good luck with is ALgaefix. But Once I used the Horton method, I no longer had to use that! Good luck, we have all been where you are.


clipped on: 11.12.2009 at 10:26 am    last updated on: 11.12.2009 at 10:27 am

Soil and Seeds

posted by: trudi_d on 10.30.2009 at 12:12 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

This is a continuation of my FAQ reposts. Please comment as you need and want.

Soil. Seeds. Water. That's what you need.

It doesn't take much to start a batch of seedlings. You need a sowing medium of soil, compost, or a soilless mix usually made from peat moss and vermiculite or perlite, you need seeds, and water. Mother Nature will provide the sunshine and most often she will provide rain or melting snows to keep the soil moist.

Sowing Depth

I trade for many of my seeds and sometimes the sowing depth is not included on the packet. What is the correct depth that I should sow my seeds?

I sow my seeds twice as deep as the seed's smallest dimension.

As examples:

Foxglove seeds are the size of dust, so just pat them into the soil surface.

Columbine seeds are the size of fleas, so just pat them into the soil surface.

Grass is small and narrow too, so just pat those seeds into the soil surface.

Marigolds may be a 1/2 inch long but they are narrow and flat, sow them just under the soil surface.

Cornflower seed is a 1/16 of an inch wide, sow them an 1/8th inch under the soil surface.

Next size up would be a Coneflower seed, sow about a 1/4 inch under the soil.

Pea or a Corn seed is getting bigger. They are about a 1/4 inch across, sow them about a 1/2 inch deep.

A Lima Bean seed is bigger, sow about 3/4 of an inch deep.

A Scarlet Runner bean is quite plump, that should be sown a full inch down.

An Acorn? Well, deep is squirrel depth?
Types of Soil


What type of soil can I use in the flats?


Any potting medium will work. Mixes with soil for potting or "soilless mixes" both work fine.

Avoid soil bags that say "weed-free" because they can contain chemicals mixed into the soil to keep any weed seeds from germinating. Unfortunately, this keeps ALL seeds from germinating, including the seeds you sow in that soil.

What's MY favorite? I like the most economical one I can find. I do a LOT of Winter's fun and is very addictive. So I look for the biggest and largest bag of soil I can find. It's an economical choice to get the biggest bag because it costs less per pound or quart. Plus, with more soil, I can sow more flats!

Using Compost:

Use can use compost for sowing after you kill the weeds seeds.

I have used homemade compost to sow seeds in. Compost is great, it's rich in nutrients and retains moisture very well. The only drawback is that it can also contain plenty of seeds.

It's easy to kill those weed seeds. Fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway up with compost (or use whatever large container you have on hand.) Have the bucket of compost outside, but closest to your kitchen door. In the kitchen bring a full kettle of water to boil. When the kettle is boiling, remove it from the flame and take it outside. Carefully and slowly, to avoid splashing, pour the boiling water into the bucket of compost.

Put a lid on the doesn't have to be on tight, it's just to help hold the heat and steam in as long as it can. The boiling water and steam will kill the weed seeds. If you don't have a lid for the bucket then use a large piece of aluminum foil, or use an old towel or blanket draped over the top.

Let the bucket of compost sit overnight so it is cool when used the next day. You can now use the compost for sowing seeds confident that the weed seeds have been killed. Also, another benefit of the boiling water treatment is that it will kill many soilborne diseases that might exist in the compost.

Moisture and Watering


How can I tell when my flats need moisture?

Flats that are sufficiently moist will show condensation inside their lids.

If you are not seeing condensation it could be that you have too many vents for air transpiration or too many drainage holes, or possibly, because the flats are in a mostly shaded location they are not warming much inside and so no steamy vapor can rise to adhere to the lid's inner surface. You can tape over a few slits...see if that alters the condensation effect.

Moist soil is dark looking.... like the color of a cooked very-fudgy brownie. Dry soil looks dry.... it is far lighter in color and that color reminds me of a package of dry chocolate cake mix.

To add more water to a flat remove its cover and gently dribble in some cold water....don't slosh it onto the soil surface as that could dislodge the seeds or seedlings. Give the soil a good soaking, any excess water will seep out through the drainage slits. Replace the lids promptly and securely.

To add more water to a flat made from a bottle simply tilt the bottle at a slight angle, then gently and slowly dribble some water into the bottle, the water will run down the inside of the bottle wall and won't splash directly onto the soil surface.
A large amount of flats may be watered at the same time by letting them soak in a small kiddie pool that has been pre-filled with a couple of inches of water. Place the flats gently into the water to avoid splashing. The flats will soak up moisture though their drainage slits. Remove them after the soil is consistantly dark and moist.

If you are traveling or must be away on a hot Spring day you can help your flats stay moist and cool by placing them in the kiddie pool with an inch of water for the day, or purchase a hose timer and use a sprinkler to automatically and regularly water the flats.

Sowing Hybrid Seeds

Growing plants from hybrid seeds is lots of fun because you can sometimes get variations that are quite wonderful. You NEVER get little "Frankenstein-Monster" plants, lol.

Monstroflora trudimakus ssp. happihalloweenus


clipped on: 11.02.2009 at 12:05 pm    last updated on: 11.02.2009 at 12:06 pm

How To Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors

posted by: trudi_d on 10.21.2009 at 03:44 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

'How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors'

It really is very easy to do.

First, let me give you a little background as to why I sowed the seeds during the Winter. I live in a very small house, a cottage actually, and I simply do not have room for a light set up, also, any window space I have must be fought from the cat and "Prinny" likes to look out on the street and watch the world go by, so I have to give her a windowsill. She's a good cat and deserves her place in the sun.

I got hooked on seed trading, and as you all know seed trading is like Pokemon......"you gotta have 'em all." I had tons of seeds, I had them all. Though I am not a novice at gardening, I am a novice at growing seeds. This was my second season doing so. Because of my lack of experience with growing seeds, and not having a light set up, I traded for "easy to grow" seeds; I had to start them in the windowsill or out on the patio in flats during Spring and Summer .

I was thinking a lot last Winter about how I was going to start all these seeds, I needed an easy way out. I knew that many seeds needed to be pre-chilled, and I knew that many plants reseed and germinate outdoors without our intervention. I thought about this for a few days and put two and two together. I would sow them into flats, and take them outside for the Winter, if all went well then they would germinate in Spring.

I am a true believer in "recycle and reuse". I had been saving my take-out containers from the Chinese restaurant (not those typical white boxes that have a metal handle and white rice inside), I was saving the foil pans that have a separate clear plastic lid, and they're usually round or rectangular. These containers were just I didn't have to go to a store and open up my wallet (hmm, look at all the moths fly out), if I can get away without having to lay down a buck I will. I did need soil so I went to the local discount department store and got their brand which was the cheapest I could find.

Seed Selection

Look at a seed catalogue, most will have some sort of notation about a seed's germination requirements, or you'll pick up a few clue-in phrases.

Look for these terms:

Needs Pre-chilling (freeze seeds, refrigerate seeds, stratify for x amount of days or weeks), Needs Strarification, Will Colonize, Self Sows, Sow outdoors in early Atuumn, Sow outdoors in early Spring while nights are still cool, Sow outdoors in early Spring while frosts may still occur, Hardy Seeds, Seedlings can withstand frost, Cand de direct sown early, Wildflower, Weed (such as butterfly weed, joe pye weed, jewel weed.)

Look for Common Names indicating a natural environment:

Plains, Prairie, Desert, Mountain, Swamp, Field, River, etc.

Look for names that might indicate an origin in a temperate climate:

Siberian, Chinensis, Polar, Alpine, Orientale, Canadensis, Caucasian, Russian (indicating Soviet origin), etc.

Think about your own garden, and your neighbors' gardens too. Do you find plants that have volunteered each spring and shown up as seedlings that you didn't sow? These are very good choices. Let's say that your orange marigolds have returned in Spring as volunteer can then be pretty well assured that gold, or lemon, African or French varieties will reseed for you too. When it comes down to it, a marigold is a marigold is a marigold.

I like Park's Seed catalogue, it has a great germination table right in the middle of the catalogue. They have a numbered guide indicating the best germination requirements for seeds. I took a yellow highlighter and went down that numbered list and highlighted all the numbers that would be appropriate for Winter Sowing, then I carefully went through their list of seeds and highlighted the varieties that corresponded to the correct numbers. This is how I chose which varieties I would Winter Sow. A lot of catalogues, not just Parks, will have a germination table, or some information about germination, look at them, study them, and learn.

To make a flat you take the foil container (of course it's clean, washed in hot soapy water) and a paring knife. Stab a few slits in the bottom of the pan, this is for drainage. Now fill the pan with soil to about a half inch from the top. Give it a real good drink and let it drain. I do this in my kitchen. (I have a sprayer on a hose at the sink and I use this for the watering, works well and doesn't gouge out holes in the soil). After the pan has drained, sow your seeds and pat them down. Cover the seeds with more soil to the correct depth, if necessary. I like growing plants with tiny, tiny seeds, they're really just the very most easiest to sow. Sprinkle them on top of the soil, pat the seeds down, and that's that.

Now you need to put the lid on but first...and this is the very most important step...take the knife and poke several slits in the clear plastic lid. This is for air transpiration. Think about it, you're making a little mini-greenhouse. If you don't vent the air that is heated by the sun you'll cook your flar and the seeds won't germinate. You've baked them to death. Okay, put the lid on secure by folding down the foil rim. Now the seeds are sown.

Uh oh...back it up, I forgot a step that you may wish to use: labeling. I didn't label mie as I like surprises, however this concept may pop the heads of gardeners who enjoy having everything 'just so'. Get some freezer tape, duct tape, or any tape that you know will work well after being frozen. Pull off a piece and titck it to the bottom of the flat. Write the variety name on it with a permanent marking pen. You can do this before or after sowing, if you do it afterwards make sure you wipe the bottom of the flat well as most tape doesn't adhere as good as you'd like to a damp surface. Label the tape before sticking it on the bottom of the flat. The labeil is on the bottom of the flat because the sun can't bleach it down there.

Now you need to put the lid on BUT FIRST.........and this is the very most important step.......take the knife and poke several slits in the clear plastic lid. This is for air transpiration. Think about it, you're making a little mini greenhouse. If you don't vent the air that is heated by the sun you'll cook your flat and the seeds won't germinate. You've baked them to death. Okay, put the lid on secure by folding down the foil rim. Now the seeds are sown.

All right, the flat is now sown and covered (with little slits in the top, yes? don't forget!!). Now take it outside to somewhere it will be safe for the winter. I put them on a picnic table top away from my curious puppy. I learned my lesson, I lost a flat of daylilies (the first I sowed this way) because I put them on the ground under a bush and the puppy found them and thought the flat was a toy, and she promptly killed it by shaking it to death. After that all the flats went up on the table out of her reach. A sad loss; but it was an excellent lesson.

Now you'll just wait it out. When the weather warms the flats will freeze and thaw repeatedly as Winter gives way to spring. This action of freezing and thawing out helps loosen the seed coat. You'll often see the term "nick or file seeds prior to sowing" in germination databases: this is to duplicate Mother Nature's work. (Now you won't have to do that anymore!)

Amazingly, just when Winter is about to break, and you're still getting nightly freezes, the first of your flats will begin to germinate. When I saw this I thought that the seedlings were goners, but they thrived. The seeds know when it's safe to come up; it's part of their genetics. Now is the time to check the moisture in the flats. On an above-freezing day, open them up and if they look like they need a drink give them one. The excess water will drain away. Don't forget to replace the lids tightly.

As your seedlings grow start widening the slits in the covers, once a week or so make the slits a little bit bigger, eventually you'll have more open areas than covered and you'll be able to transplant the seedlings into the garden because they are completely hardened off. I have put in seedlings that barely had their first set of true leaves and they thrived in the ground.

After transplant care is typically the same as for indoor sown seedlings. They need a drink and just a little bit of food: 10% strength after their first week in the ground, then increase slowly as the season progresses. After about eight weeks and a few feedings your seedlings will be able to take a full strength feeding.

Alternate seed flats:

I have used plastic milk jugs and 2 liter soda bottles: just cut around the middle almost all the way through. Make the drainage slits. Fill with dirt, water, drain, sow, and cover with more dirt (the same procedure as above.) Tape the cut edges together and simply remove the cap for air transpiration.

Cardboard orange juice or milk containers can be used with a baggie. Cut them in half, horizontally or vertically, make the drainage slits and sow your seeds by the same method above. Slip the flat into a baggie, tie it closed with a twist tie or a knot and use the knife to make a few slits for air transpiration, put a few slits in the bottom of the baggie for drainage.

CoolWhip tubs: Make the drainage slits, and then sow your seeds as above. Take a scissors and cut out the center of the lid, leaving about an inch around the inside of the rim. Put a piece of clear plastic wrap over the tub, put on the lid. This holds the plastic wrap "window" snuggly in place. Take the knife and make some slits in the plastic wrap for air transpiration.

Did all my flats germinate? NO! I had eighty or so of these made and eight did not germinate. Was it the seeds? Was it the method? Was it me? I don't know. But I did have about seventy flats that did germinate. Outside!

Let me mention that I also used four kiddie pools. These were used the summer before as container gardens ~ lots of soil and lots of big slits for drainage. I simply direct sowed these and left them uncovered. They got snowed on, the snow melted, it rained while the base of the kiddie pools were still frozen and the rain didn't drain. They all were frozen with ice at least an inch thick.......aarrgghh, panic, Panic, PANIC....I couldn't do anything about it. When warmer weather finally came the pools thawed and drained and the seeds came up! YEAH!

That's it. As you see it's not hard to do at all. I sowed these flats at my leisure throughout the Winter. Everyone talks about going bonkers in January and February because they can't get out and do any meaningful gardening. There are only a few varieties of seeds which can be successfully sown this early indoors....frustration and gardening fever sets in. While all the other gardeners were chomping at the bit I was being self indulgent and playing with dirt and mud and seeds at my own lazy-bones pace.

I took a leap of faith doing this. I kept the faith and I was rewarded. I believe in this method, it works, it really truly works. Too much emphasis has been made on indoor sowing under lights. It takes up time, it takes up space, white flies take to the air, damp off kills your effort, your seedlings, and your spirit. I forget to mention that there is NO EVIL DAMP-OFF. The chilling temperatures and fresh winds prevent the damp-off that sadly causes young seedlings to fail. We take a lot of time and care in our efforts, sometimes we feel like the seedlings are almost our "plant" children. It really is depressing when a flat of seedlings doesn't make it.

I encourage everyone to try the Winter Sowing Method. If you want to hold back some seeds the first time you try it that's great. Save some seeds to sow indoors of a variety you have placed in a Winter Sown flat, compare the differences in the seedlings, and then compare plants when they mature. Learn from what you observe.

Make your life and garden easy, let it flourish with flowers, grasses, vines, bushes, trees, and vegetables, you thought you couldn't even consider trying before now.

Good luck to you all!

Trudi Davidoff

(This essay was written and first uploaded to the on August 17th, describes my beginning experiences with winter sowing during the previous winter. This essay was last edited February 2008.)


clipped on: 11.02.2009 at 12:04 pm    last updated on: 11.02.2009 at 12:04 pm

RE: dipper gourds (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: magickiwi on 10.07.2009 at 03:39 pm in Pumpkins Squash & Gourds Forum

Don't forget to check with Ray at - she can put you on to gourd crafters and artists in your area - you will be happy you did!
Gourd wishes from Michigan!

Here is a link that might be useful: GourdGracious Gourds


clipped on: 10.27.2009 at 05:01 pm    last updated on: 10.27.2009 at 05:01 pm

RE: Purple Coneflower Seeds? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: pitimpinai on 09.26.2009 at 06:45 am in Seed Saving Forum

This site is excellent in identifying seeds, seedpods and seedlings:

Here is a link that might be useful: Seeds, seedlings and Pods


clipped on: 10.05.2009 at 04:17 pm    last updated on: 10.05.2009 at 04:17 pm

Good basic vegetable seed saving info

posted by: lazygardens on 09.24.2009 at 12:03 pm in Seed Saving Forum

At Seed Savers, of course.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Savers


clipped on: 10.05.2009 at 04:14 pm    last updated on: 10.05.2009 at 04:14 pm

RE: how to collect baby snapdragon seeds? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: remy on 07.27.2009 at 08:54 pm in Seed Saving Forum

Hi Paula,
I'm sorry no one has responded to your question. I know about saving snap dragon seeds, but you are talking about Linaria. I went and checked over on The Seed Site and they have a pic of the seed pod! Please check out the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Seed Site Page with Linaria Seed Pod


clipped on: 10.05.2009 at 03:51 pm    last updated on: 10.05.2009 at 03:52 pm

RE: Moonflower bush (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: nbacres on 06.09.2009 at 04:50 pm in Moon Garden Forum

I've got Moonflower seeds if anyone is interested. I'm still direct seeding since IA is cool and rainy. Send me an e-mail if interested (for seed trade).


clipped on: 06.10.2009 at 05:26 pm    last updated on: 06.10.2009 at 05:26 pm