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Winter Sowing Or Recycled Seed Starters With Kathy Green

This post is by Kathy Green, a fellow blogger and professional gardener from Kathy kindly allowed me to re-post her original article on my blog.

winter sowing - plastic bottles under the snow

I learned about winter seed sowing from some fellow gardeners at the Middle Tennessee Plant Swap last spring.

I loved the idea and began saving clear plastic bottles as soon as I got home.

Last week I received my order of heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and couldn’t wait to get them started.

I got out my saved bottles.  Juice bottles, 2-liter cola bottles, and milk jugs all work well.

Winter sowing: Plastic bottles

Remove the labels but don’t worry if you can’t get them all off, they will serve as shade when the weather gets warm.

Start by cutting around the bottle about 1/3 of the way down from the top. Don’t cut all the way around, leave about an inch connected to form a “henge”.

Winter sowing: Cut a plastic bottle open

Now fill the bottom with any potting soil mix – you don’t need moisture additives or fertilizer.

Place your seeds on top and cover with soil according to the depth recommended for the type of seeds you are planting. moisten but don’t drench the soil. I made my own labels and laminated them.

Winter sowing: Add soil and seeds

Now tape the bottle back together, screw the lid on and place outside and let nature take it’s course.

Winter sowing: A taped bottle with soil and seeds

My friends who do this every year promise that they have seen their bottles covered with snow and ice but as soon as the weather begins to warm, these little mini greenhouses will warm that potting soil and the little seedlings will pop up.

Watch to be sure they don’t get too hot.

Open the tops on warm bright sunny days – don’t forget to replace them if cold nights are expected. The bottles will get much warmer than the outside air so watch and be sure the plants don’t burn.

When all possibility of frost is past and your seedlings are off to a good start, fold back the henge, harden off the seedlings for a week or two and plant in the ground or pot up to larger containers.

My husband made a rack for my bottles to keep them from blowing over. It gets pretty windy here on my hill in Tennessee. I can’t wait to see how these do.

I must admit I saved some seeds in case I kill all these! I’ll post the pictures when the first seedlings come up. If this works, I’ll never mess with lights and seed starting racks again!

According to the follow-up post, the seeds turned out to be fine. You can use this method for seeds you buy – but you also can collect your own seeds and sow them in exactly the same way.

Make sure to visit Kathy’s blog to learn more about gardening tips for small places!

Winter sowing using plastic bottles

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