Winter Sowing

Winter Sowing is an easy seed germination method that allows you to start many seedlings for little cost. During the Winter months seeds are sown into mini-greenhouses that you make yourself from recycled containers, such as milk jugs, soda and juice bottles, take out food containers, etc.  After sowing, the mini-greenhouse is placed outside to wait for the end of Winter. The seeds will begin to germinate at their own right time when weather warms. (Courtesy of WinterSown.Org)

Members: 49
Latest Activity: Feb 11, 2014

Perfect for gardeners who can't wait for Spring!

I discovered Winter Sowing only a couple of years ago, but I jumped in with both feet (and 85 recycled containers) my first year and was rewarded in the spring with some wonderful surprises (who would have thought you could start tomatoes sucessfully this way?) and more hardy seedlings than I had the time to nestle into the ground. 

I am looking forward to getting to know other Winter Sowers and sharing tips for success.  

If you haven't winter sowed before - try it this year!  I have posted step-by-step instructions which can be tweaked to suit your needs.


Discussion Forum

Who's Counting?? 23 Replies

OK everyone - what's your count of WS containers so far?  I am at 30, but hoping to do some more this weekend if I can gather a few more containers.  I'm forcing milk and soda on everyone and tonight I suggested we order Chinese for dinner just so I…Continue

Started by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A. Last reply by Tammie M McInnis Jan 17, 2014.

Step-by-Step Pictures 21 Replies

Step 1 - Gather recycled containers - milk jugs, soda and juice bottles, take out containers, etc.  Choose only items that are clear and let the sunlight in! Continue

Started by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A. Last reply by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A Jan 26, 2013.

Pictures of Winter Sowing 11 Replies


Started by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A. Last reply by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A Nov 15, 2012.

Seeds for Winter Sowing 1 Reply

Here's a list of seeds that should do well being winter sown:AgeratumAlyssumBachelor's ButtonsCalendulaCelosiaCoreopsisCosmosDelphiniumGaillardiaImpatiensMarigoldNicotianaNigellaPetuniasPoppyScabiosaSunflowerViolaZinniaAsterAstilbeBee BalmBlazing…Continue

Started by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A. Last reply by Jan Page Jan 31, 2012.

Sowing 1 Reply

So glad to find this group!  Looking forward to learning and meeting people who enjoy the same things as I do!  Looking forward to summer!  Hopefully I will have lots of things growing from seed!Continue

Started by RITA PORTER. Last reply by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A Jan 27, 2012.

Container Suggestions

Here's a list of suitable containers for Winter Sowing - feel free to add your own! 1 or 2 ltr soda/pop bottles (smaller sizes ok too)1/2 or 1 gallon plastic milk jugsClear plastic take out food containersFoil take out containers with clear plastic…Continue

Started by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A Jan 26, 2012.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on February 11, 2014 at 2:31am

I still have to start mine. Just in a winter funk, it's been snowing since fall here in IL. and I guess my body just isn't used to it.

Comment by MJ on February 4, 2014 at 7:18am

Well, I am on my 3rd year of winter sowing! We look forward to doing this all winter. It is something to do when it is cold outside, and it gives us great enjoyment the rest of the year too.Have 90 bottles done so far and we do more every weekend.

Comment by Glenda Truscott z8 on March 28, 2013 at 8:32pm

I discoverd last year when I was doing a lot of winter sowing that my lettuce did better in the milk jugs than when I planted the seeds right into the ground.  Even though I use Sluggo I still have quite a slug population and they love eating my new seedlings.  So today I started a few jugs of lettuce and spinach.

I don't think I will do any flower seeds this year.

Vicky, I really dislike styrofoam anything.  I have tried the toilet paper rolls a grow pots though and they work well.

Comment by Vicky Myers on March 25, 2013 at 10:32am

You can make newspaper pots too. I like the peat rounds for getting started under lights indoors. Then move them to cups. I have a book and those fellows use styrofoam cups and put holes in the bottom and slits up the side they claim to get the best starts. I tried the winter sow last yr but didn't get the jugs outside and everything sprouted on me too quick indoors. Our weather is ok here to just stick the seeds in ground and they come up when they are ready.

Comment by Vicky Myers on March 25, 2013 at 10:29am

Wouldn't toilet paper rolls work better than eggs? Just cut them in half and fold up one end. My egg shells all get nuked for 20 secs smashed and sprinkled all over the gardens.

Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on March 25, 2013 at 9:43am

I started winter sowing but didn't try the egg idea, I have more jugs so I will see if hubby wants to help. He can carefully break the eggs for me. Maybe we'll make egg

Comment by Jan Page on March 21, 2013 at 9:00am

Robin, You would have to make sure that you have holes in the bottom of your egg shells for drainage, it might work?  I wouldn't do allot of them but experiment and write good notes and be sure to share here.

Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on January 31, 2013 at 3:23pm

I wonder if mixing the egg shell starters with winter sowing would work.

I haven't started yet,but hope to within the week.

Comment by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A on January 27, 2013 at 2:19pm

Welcome new members!  Who's wintersowing this year??

Comment by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A on January 27, 2013 at 2:18pm

The one thing I will do differently this year is go back to taping the containers together instead of using twist ties.  I found that using the ties left too much of a gap for moisture to escape and I was watering too often (this is supposed to be low maintenance growing right?).


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