winter sowing

Starting Seeds

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I found 3 plastic milk jugs and planted then today. Two seeds I collected: Purple cone flower (Echinacea) and Feverfew (from Victoria’s garden). Also a package of lavender seeds. I used wooden labels inside the jugs. (Last time I did this, I wrote on jugs and ink washed off.) I tucked then the jugs in with some old hay out in the yard – and put my gnome in charge of them.

12 Comments. Leave new

  • wow i dint have this idea i think next time in inter even i will do this

  • Hi Kathy,

    I have been following your blog for about a month or so. Thanks so much for the wealth of information you provide. I am a gardener myself, but am a "novice," having only 2 seasons under my belt. This year I am starting everything from seed. I have been trying to do a lot of research on seed starting mixes, but I haven't found one that fits my budget. What do you use for seed starting and for transplanting to larger pots?



  • I need to give this a shot this year. I have some readers that have been interested in winter sowing.

    Love that you use milk jugs, always great to find free ways to garden.

  • I just finished my second round of winter sowing today, and included some apple and pear seeds for arborsculpture projects! Does the height of the milk jug add to the process?

  • JP, The fruit seed idea sounds fun. But I really don't know about the jug height. I guess I'm not sure what you're asking.

    Katie, I just go for the commercial MiracleGro bag of seed starter. You have to consider your time too. I buy a big bag of potting soil (MiracleGro; CostCo will carry the giant bag in late Feb and March; potting soil is coarser, cheaper than seed starter mix). I put potting soil in trays to fill, then tamp with my fingers, sow seed, and cover with seed starter mix. I try to plan the sowing so I don't need to transplant to bigger pots before they go to the garden. But if I do need to transplant to pots (tomatoes and peppers usually need to) sometimes I use garden soil. If the plants will be mostly outside this is fine. If they will be mostly inside, use the cheapest potting mix (Scotts?). This will be coarse, but fine for bigger plants.

    There are also comments on some of my posts from gardeners who make their own potting mix. You can try this too and compare.

  • this is such a great idea!!

  • Thanks Kathy, I appreciate the help!

  • Marian(LondonUK)
    February 22, 2010 2:21 PM

    Good idea with the milk containers. I sowed Lavender Sunday too, I want to plant it at the edges of my beds to act as a wind break hedge and to attract the bees. About time that Gnome was given work to do. Tee Hee!
    Marian (LondonUK)

  • Wow, I've had no luck with milk containers as seed starters — in my climate it just seems too hard to regulate the temperature inside. Either they get too hot or too cold too damp or too something; they were just too unreliable for me. Which was disappointing for me because it was a great way to recycle all the milk jugs I was using at the time.

    I like a light seed starting mix so I use plain generic potting soil and lighten it up with some perlite and vermiculite. I have all three in cans in my yard and it takes no time at all to mix up a bucketful, add water, and mix. (I don't really have a recipe for this, I do it mostly by feel.)

  • Miracle grow potting soil has a lot of inorganic materials in it and a lot of chemicals it is not considered organic .. If you want to be totally organic I suggest to start a compost pile when the materials in the compost are all broken down bring a few bags in for the winter for seed starting use .. If you treat you lawn with any chemicals do NOT put it in your compost ..
    Also if you sift your compost with a screen it will be perfect for seeds
    Another good way is to have a worm farm worm dirt is perfect for seed starting .. and a natural fertilizer .. a great way to get rid of kitchen scraps ect ..
    your garden is beautiful!! I live in Lawrence Ma and have been doing my best to be totally organic .. so far so good .. last year was a rip but … we all gotta deal with bad Summers at some point I am sure lol

  • I read about this last year and because I cannot not try to do indoor planting this year I am trying this method. So excited to see how this turns out this year! I am guessing I will not have good results this year, since it is my first try… but there is always next year too. 🙂

  • I bet it will work well.

    I have been meaning to check if mine got filled with water during the storm. I forgot again today. I hope they are OK.


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