Winter Sowing

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

It seems that as soon as the calendar turned to 2015 my mind turned toward gardening. With the holidays behind us, I began looking at photographs of last year’s garden, browsing online seed catalogs making plans for this year’s garden. With every meal I prepared using ingredients preserved from last year’s bounty my desire to get my hands dirty grew ever stronger.

I came across a couple of articles that reminded me of a project I’ve been wanting to try and I knew it was time to get growing. Winter sowing is placing seeds outside, in the winter, in mini-greenhouses made from things like empty milk jugs. The plastic jugs protect the seeds from harsh weather while allowing the cold to toughen them up during the cold weather. When it gets warm enough inside of the little greenhouses the seeds germinate and become viable outdoor plants sooner than those started indoors because there’s no need to harden off the plants.

I spent a beautiful sunny Saturday morning browsing through my seed collection considering which seeds to start with first. I decided on a couple of varieties of lettuce and one type of marigold because, left to seed, these plants will come back as “volunteers” in the garden the next year. I also chose peas because they’re one of the first seeds to be planted in an early spring garden.

Then I retrieved a few of the milk jugs I’ve been saving over the winter and cut them around the middle, just below the handle, leaving a couple of inches to make a hinge. Then, using a small knife, I poked about twelve holes in the bottom of each jug and a couple on each side about an inch from the bottom. Then I added a few inches of potting soil and water to moisten the soil until it ran out of the drainage holes.

Finally it was time to plant! The method of planting for winter sowing is slightly different from that used in traditional planting in that the seeds are left on top of the soil–except for the peas which I covered with about an eighth of an inch of soil.

The smell of the soil, the sense of my hands in the dirt, the hope that planting a seed evokes, were just the thing to chase away the winter doldrums. They’re forecasting snow for tomorrow. No matter. There may be snow on the ground and spring may still be a few weeks away but I’ve started my garden.

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I’ll probably do a few more of these mini-greenhouses in the coming weeks and I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this little project as time goes by.

Read more about winter sowing here and here. You can Google “winter sowing” too as there’s lots of information out there on the topic.

UPDATE: I composed this post on a sunny Saturday afternoon right after putting the mini-greenhouses outside. This is what it looked like the next day–yesterday. See my little blue bin buried under the snow? Seems that winter is not quite ready to go away just yet.

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I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.

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