A few months ago I blogged about my attempts to start seeds in milk jugs outdoors in the throes of a Kansas winter. As with most things related to gardening, some things have done remarkably well, some are so-so, and some are either failures or just really late sprouters.
What I can say is that I like the idea of winter-sowing – having seeds started in jugs has really made a difference in terms of sheltering them from the blustery winds of a Kansas spring and the erratic swings in temperatures. On a warm sunny day, I can open up their hinged tops to let them experience the weather instead of over-heating, but shut them up if it’s going to freeze again. I have noticed a huge difference in the spinach growing in a jug vs. in the garden, for example – it is definitely bigger and healthy-looking (this spinach was sprouted first on paper towels and then transplanted to the jugs – I will share more on that in a later post).
The one downside is that some seeds sprouted early, and then it got really cold again, and they didn’t make it. With creeping thyme, for example, I saw a lot of sprouts early, then they all died, so I sowed a second jug in March, and those have grown and stayed alive. I am also wondering if the reason that some seeds haven’t sprouted yet is that they have rotted in the soil. I am new at this, and try to keep the soil moist for germination, but it’s hard to tell what the reason is.
My mesclun lettuce is doing so well I think I should probably transplant it into the raised beds. And I definitely need to move in the Swiss chard and lacinato kale soon.
I also have seen sprouts in the following:
- marigolds (no problems with frosts so far – they are thriving with the jug closed)
- purple coneflower (only 3)
- salmon peony poppy (just a couple)
- Canterbury bells
- royal carpet creeping alyssum and white alyssum
- creeping thyme
In a couple of weeks I will hopefully post on how some of these are doing transplanted, and show you picture of our raised beds full of soil and some of our plants.