Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Perils of Winter Sowing

I’ve been humbled again. The sprightly seedlings I crowed over in January are now brown and mushy.

The Bellis perennis container is probably a complete loss. Mike dumped the entire package of seed in the milk jug and it looks as if they all sprouted, only to be knocked down by February’s arctic air. I’m not heartbroken; after reading more about English daisies, I wasn’t so sure I wanted them after all. I only bought the seeds because they were marked down at Big Lots last summer.

The lupine containers only had about 25% germination in January. Those early sprouts are dead, but I’m hoping the remaining seed are viable. I’ve done successive sowings of lupine, so the containers I sowed in February did not experience the warm temperatures and early germination. I should be assured of having lupine plants this spring.

The sweet william also germinated in late January to greet a frosty death. I need to check my records to see if I did a later sowing or if I should put out another container. Because sweet william is a biennial, I saved plenty of seed for next year (or later this year).

Some of you may be nodding your heads and thinking “I told you so.” You were right to be skeptical of January seedlings. I had faith though, in the winter sowing premise that Mother Nature knows best. I naively believed the seedlings would not hatch before the time is right. I grieve for their little deaths, but chalk it up as a lesson learned: don’t put all your eggs in one basket (or all your seeds in one container). My process of sowing the same type of seed over a couple of months turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our winters are unpredictable and successive sowings ensure that at least some of the containers succeed.

I begin sowing the annual seeds this weekend. Please don’t die, little guys!


Blogger Kathy said...

If you got early seedlings again, would you do anything differently? Move them to the garage for a frigid spell, perhaps? I agree about the lupines--more may germinate later. That might actually apply to all the containers. I wouldn't ditch any of them just yet.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

I probably will move the seedlings to the garage or our sunroom if I run into this situation again.

I plan on leaving all the containers out until at least the end of May this year. Last year, I didn't realize how many seeds needed consistent temps in the 65-75 degree range for 1-2 weeks to germinate and I probably dumped the containers too soon!

11:37 AM  
Blogger OldRoses said...

Glad to hear you are perservering! I'm going to be really daring and plant seeds that need cold temps to germinate in the gardens in April to see what happens. My poppies do just fine sown in March.

9:26 PM  
Blogger SeedFreak said...

I just looked in on this post and am saddened to read of some of your losses.

I did notice something amiss in this photo--

Your containers did not appear to be prepared properly. I see lids on the bottles and the strawberry container does not has the excess vents taped over.

Here are some links to pages with photos of containers show vented and/or open tops:

More than likely, the early germination was stimulated by overheated air--it created a falsely warmed environment and so seed did sprout early on. With bitter weather following, the seedlings which spouted prematurely did fail. I would suggest taping over the majority of holes in the strawberry boxes as too much air equals too much evaporation.

I hope that you will try Winter Sowing again and will open up those bottles to fresh air--their tops act as a natural funnel to vent away the air which is overheated by the sun.


Trudi Davidoff

5:48 AM  
Blogger GirlGoneGardening said...

I've wanted to try this this winter, however, we really havent gotten cold so I have waited. I probebly wont seed outside untill late febuary or early march. I never plant all my seeds at once, I hold some back if I need to replace empty spots or if some seedling disaster strikes.

1:20 PM  

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