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 Jan Page on February 26, 2012 at 11:04am

Hi Robin, I just got an answer back from Trudi, the leader of winter sown..... here is a copy of what she said:

Trudi Greissle Davidoff
Holes in the top are immdeiately needed. Hot air rises, it doesn't go sideways unless there is some forceful strong winds to blast through. Also, without holes in the top no rain or melting snow can get into the container to keep the pots watered. What she has created is a nesting unit, but with the lids unvented she runs the strong possibility of toe air in the container overheating, causing the soil in the flats to also overheat which will cook the seed nuclei.

Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on February 25, 2012 at 10:13pm

I hope I put enough holes in the bottom, I almost burnt myself a few times putting them all in the bins, I used a soldering iron to make them.

Comment by Jan Page on February 25, 2012 at 10:04pm

Of course I can't see the bottom of the bin but did you remember to drill allot of holes in the bottom.... I hope this works out as I would love to do a larger container.... Maybe I'll ask this question of Trudi the Pioneer of this type of growing!

Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on February 25, 2012 at 10:02pm

There are holes in the bottom of the bin for drainage, I have holes on the side to let the heat escape and for air flow. I didn't put any holes in the top because if it did rain with the weather we've been having here the ground might be too frozen to allow the water to seep out through the holes in the bottom. I plan on watching them closely to make sure they stay moist.

Comment by Jan Page on February 25, 2012 at 9:59pm

A little boy came with his parents today to my bible study and I wanted to show his folks this technique to winter sow, and was so tickled to see him put the seeds into the soil and of course he took it home, I said to him "be sure to put your jug  out in the snowbank when you get home."

Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on February 25, 2012 at 9:57pm

I'm hope'n that since the tub is large that there will be enough sun coming through the sides.

Comment by Jan Page on February 25, 2012 at 9:56pm

Robin, another question for you is did you drill holes in the bottom of the plastic bins?  Also you need holes on the top to receive rain and let the heat escape like a mini greenhouse. 

One needs them to drain water when you water them and if it snows the moisture gets sucked up into your box and releases into your pots....

Comment by Jan Page on February 25, 2012 at 9:50pm

Hi Robin, I just looked at your photos of the Winter sown large container with your 4 and 6 pkgs.... I hope it works as I see your top is pink which I think it would work better if it were clear or even opec (misspelled)  but being pink I wonder.... if this works for you I have allot of those type of containers and would love to use them.  I think I read the top shouldn't be colored but its worth a try!

Comment by Michele Lawrenson, Z6A on February 24, 2012 at 6:37pm
Oh thank goodness! When I read your earlier post I thought you planted 16 different types of seeds in one milk jug lol!!! Silly me! Looking' good.
Comment by Robin (N.IL zone 5) on February 24, 2012 at 6:29pm

Here is what my winter sowing containers look like. This is #1


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