Winter Seed Sowing In the Garden

milk jug seed sowing


It’s winter in Reno.  It’s been really mild weather-wise, compared to last year.  Last January gave us the highest amount of snow fall in one month ever recorded in our area, but it looks like nothing compared to the rest of the country right now.

Usually during January, I turn to inside projects to work on, such as painting wall, creating crafts or writing.  Since it’s been in the 50’s this week, I focused on yard work.

Last year I created a pollinator hotel in the orchard.  It’s got a few inhabitants now, so I’m optimistic about what the New Year will bring. I created a bunch of new areas for planting this spring. So I’ve been piling on the mulch to prep the beds.

But I need seedlings; tons and tons of seedlings!

Last week I came across a post on my feed from Kevin Lee Jacobs about winter seed sowing.  I’d never heard of this, so I’m intrigued.  Here is the link if you are interested, too.

The process is pretty straightforward.

You need:

Empty gallon milk jugs.

Lightweight potting soil

Exacto knife or something to cut the bottle with

Duct tape

A screw driver to punch holes

A sharpie or other pen to mark the bottle

And of course …seeds.

I won’t rehash the process, but needless to say, it’s pretty straightforward to do. Kevin does an excellent job of laying it out, step by step.  It requires just some basic skills tending efforts, much less than you would do indoors.  Your plants are weather hardened and healthy.

They look sort of like milk jug terrariums with hinged lids, that you just leave out in the weather … snow, rain or whatever. The seeds are protected, but hardened off the way they would do in the ground. When they sprout, you need to pay a little attention with water and giving them fresh air on warmer days, closing the lid at dusk.

This really interests me. Every single time I try to sow seeds indoors, I end up with lanky weak stemmed plants that don’t make it the transplanting phase. I forget to check on them and don’t turn them.  The thought of getting grow lights and setting up an indoor nursery just doesn’t seem practical in our small home. But I do like growing things from seed, whenever I can. I have thought of cold frames, but I’ve never gotten around to making them.

This might just be the ticket!

Looks like I’m off to talk to the neighbors about getting some of their extra milk jugs, before they hit the recycling bin.

I’ll post pictures when I get it going.



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