Did you know that you can start seeds outside during the winter, using recycled materials?
Neither did I.
Basically, the idea is that you create mini greenhouses out of milk jugs and/or old deli containers.
You set them outside in January and let Mother Nature do all the work for you: watering, chilling the seeds, and so on. They come up on their own in the spring, and you give them occasional water, as needed. Once you get into May, you can remove the lids.
You wait for them to get a good root system going, then plant them out into your garden already hardened off! That means, already accustomed to swings in temperature, wind, etc.
No lugging them in and out of the greenhouse for longer amounts of time each day, while they get used to the big bad world outside.
No fussing over them, no grow lights or special equipment needed.
I saw this article on Gingham Gardens, then read the articles linked at the bottom.
What have I got to lose?
It's heartening to me that both of the authors live in Minnesota, actually one zone colder than where I live. I still plan to plant things in my greenhouse too, once it's finished, but I think this is what I have been looking for to give me a jump on the season, without an expensive polytunnel or heating system.
I'm so excited about this!
Not only is it something pro-active I can be doing right now in the middle of winter, but it's so easy.
Milk jugs, tape, marker, seeds, soil. That's all you need.
This should also help cut down on plant losses due to deer, rabbits, and birds.
I decided last year that the reason none of my seeds came up, was that they must have all gotten eaten by birds before they ever sprouted (or maybe right after.) We had a flock of pigeons that would roost and peck around in our garden nearly every day there for awhile. That's one of the many reasons I wanted a greenhouse. Planting out mature plants to start with would give them all a fighting chance of survival out there.
It should help with succession sowing, as well.
I can start batches of seeds this month, which should be big and healthy and ready to plant out by May/June, then start more in the greenhouse once we get it finished in early spring, which should then be ready to plant out by mid-summer.
The author of these articles even starts all of her vegetables this way.
Sign me up!
I will keep you updated on how it all goes--with pictures!
(Once I get my camera back from being cleaned of smoke.)
I have ordered some seeds and plan to order a few more.
Hmm...how many milk jugs can I scare up? :)