Winter Sowing Vegetable Garden – The Results

Lupine seeds were sown in January.

Last January, after watching a Grow With Kare segment on Channel 11 where they were demonstrating a way to start seedlings in the middle of the winter – in a snow bank no less – I decided to try it out.  Eleanor (my soon-to-be-mother-in-law) and I planted 2 types of parsley, carrots, Painted Daisy and Lupine in recycled take-out plastic food trays.

Winter sowing is an easy way to start seedlings.

We added several inches of potting soil, the seeds and a thin layer of soil, then watered them really well.  We poked holes in the top and the bottom of the trays to allow for moisture release.  Then covered the trays, sealed them with duct tape and set them out in the raised bed garden frame (just to keep them from blowing away.)

Winter sown seeds in January, 2010

We had plenty of snow in the months of January and February so they were covered with snow for several months.  The month of March was very mild, warm and snow-free.  By early April, I could see that most of the seeds had germinated and were doing very well.

So far, I think winter sowing is a great way to get your seedlings started.  It requires very little effort to maintain once you get them planted.

Other years I’ve tried starting seedlings indoors and I’ve had a little success, but winter sowing is definitely easier since you don’t have to water and provide 18 hours of lighting to keep them going.  You also don’t have to guess what type of spring weather you’re going to be dealing with – you can let Mother Nature decide when the seeds get started.  And because they are outside the entire time, you don’t have to bother with hardening them off before planting them in your garden.  Next year, I plan to do both the winter sowing, and spring sowing, which is starting annual seeds outdoors at the end of March (for Zone 4 gardeners).

Carrot seeds sown in January are doing really well in May.
Carrot seeds sown in January are doing really well in May.
Winter sown parsley is about 1 1/2" high

Rabbit Repellent – How to Keep Rabbits out of the Garden

After applying used kitty litter, the tulips can bloom in peace.
Rabbits destroyed the foliage on these tulips before I applied the used kitty litter.

It’s a delight to see the first tulip bloom of the season.  Imagine my dismay when the following morning the tulip was snapped off and the bloom was completely gone!  Those pesky rabbits are so destructive – they can destroy a flower or vegetable garden in one day.

To prevent further damage, I cleaned out the cat box and saved the used litter, sprinkling it around the perimeter of the flower beds.  That was three weeks ago and I haven’t had any more damage.  I used this same rabbit repellent last year and it was very effective.  Unfortunately I didn’t learn about it until after the furry four-legged mowers had chewed all of the foliage off my hostas.

This year I’ll be liberally sprinkling the litter around the edges of the gardens on a regular basis.  Especially after heavy rainfall.    If it loses its effectiveness, I’ll give one of the commercially prepared solutions a try as I’ve heard that you should alternate between repellents periodically.

I’ll be sure to let you know what the outcome is.