Home Page Image
Plants are the missionaries of Nature constantly at work.

~ Dr L.C.Corbett ~

From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

Sandy has come through and shown us that Mother Nature wields ultimate control. While we here in Tennessee only saw a little extra wind, the east coast faced a storm that still has many people without power and homes.
There's nothing I can say to lessen the pain of anyone who has experienced a loss, but I can give a tangible hand. Use coupon code FALL2012 on my web site for 10% off any purchase during the month of November.

Happy Thanksgiving, Belle

Green Thumbs Galore LLC

Longing for Spring?

by Dava Stewart

Belle has introduced me to a concept that may change my gardening world: winter sowing. If you are like me, around January or February or so, you start staring out the window at the frozen mess where your garden should be. Then, in March, you start filling every available window with flats of seeds and wishing you had some lights so you could fill even more space with seedlings.

Once your seedlings are up and looking good, you’re sick of them taking up all the space and take them outside, fully planning to just leave them for a little while so that they don’t get fried by the sun, or blown over by the wind, or meet with some other harsh outdoor calamity. But, if you’re like me, most of your seedlings end up dying before they ever get transplanted. I really hope you aren’t like me!

The process of winter sowing - sowing seeds outdoors during the winter - is based on what happens in nature. Think about it: in the fall your plants drop seeds. Those seeds are outside throughout the winter, being frozen, thawed, rained on, buried under snow, and anything else mother nature throws at them. Then, in the spring, they sprout. Of course, the germination rate is probably lower than you want, and you might have a tough time telling weeds from not-weeds, and of course, the sprouts rarely come up where you want them.

Winter sowing gives you the best of both worlds. Your seeds get frozen and thawed and everything they are meant to withstand, then you get to choose where they will grow. Your windowsills remain clean and empty, and you don’t murder your seedlings by leaving them out for too long because they toughen up outside all by themselves!

Tropical plants are not good candidates for winter sowing. Some seed companies include the phrase “winter sowing” in the description of seeds, but if you don’t see that, here are a few other words that may indicate that a seed will do well when winter sown:

  • pre-chilling
  • can withstand frost
  • sow outdoors early
  • sow in autumn
  • stratification
  • self sowing
  • reseeds
Another wonderful thing about winter sowing is that you can recycle all sorts of containers. Mostly you are looking for something with a clear lid, or something that you can create a clear lid to fit. Basically you are making little greenhouses for your seeds. Take-out food often comes in metal or plastic containers with clear, plastic lids. Two liter soda bottles can be used; yogurt cups, margarine tubs, and all sorts of food containers work well.

If your container has a clear lid, preparing it is fairly simple:
  • Cut some drainage holes in the bottom
  • Fill with potting soil
  • Soak with water and allow to drain
  • Put the seeds in
  • Cover seeds with a little more soil (as directed)
  • Make some holes in the lid so that air can flow
  • Put the lid on
  • Set outside
  • Wait for spring for your seeds to sprout
If your container doesn’t have a clear lid, it’s easy to make one. If you are using a margarine tub, for instance, you can cut away the middle of the lid. Then, after you get the seeds sown, take clear, plastic wrap and cover the top of the container. Put the lid on to hold it in place - it should look like a window into the bowl at this point - then cut some holes in the plastic wrap.

Since you can winter sow seeds from autumn until spring, you can reuse containers as you empty them giving you the pleasure of “gardening” throughout the cold months. It sure beats staring at the seed catalogs and dreaming of gardening!

When your seedlings sprout - you may still be getting freezes - begin checking to see if they need water. Then, you just treat them like you would seedlings sown in the spring. As the seedlings grow, you can start making the air holes in the cover a little bigger each week, until there is more “hole” than “cover”.

When you winter sow, you get to garden all winter long, keep plastic out of the landfill, avoid killing seedlings, and have clear window sills. Why don’t you join me and winter sow a few seeds this season?


November in the Garden
Practical & Pretty Holiday Gift Ideas for Gardeners:

Funny Plant Signs:
Wind Chimes:
Bird Feeders :