Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter Milk Jug Seed Starting

Today is the day.  It's 40 degrees and we are expecting another 12 to 18 inches of snow.  The 40 degrees gives us a good chance to have ice build up under the new snow.  Why not make it more difficult to get around???

Anyway--perfect timing for my milk jug seed planting.  The jugs can sit in the snow bank left of the back stoop and then be covered in snow.  This is the idea behind starting seeds in Winter weather. It sounds "nuts" but would you prefer to set up shop lights, heating mats, tray of seeds and then seedlings all needing light, water and good luck to survive.  Or would you prefer to just fill up milk jugs with soil, sprinkle seeds and set them outside?

I didn't think it would work.

So, I tried it last Winter.  Got the most amazingly sturdy little seedlings.  Even perennials. Even perennial grasses.  Now the ones we'll be starting today are the perennials and seeds that should be started 8 to 10 weeks prior to the last frost.  NOT tomatoes and peppers.

Go on line and type in Milk Jug Seed Starting to see details and pictures.

I am starting Salvia (Blue Victoria), Rosemary (which is very slow to germinate), Verbena Bonariensis, English Lavender (zone 5), Lavender Provence Blue (zone 5), Zebrune shallots, Yellow onions, Camellia Flowered Balsam, Verbascum.  I like to grow the perennials and then share the plants with friends.

I also have some Native Maine seeds to try out: Closed Gentian, Black Elderberry, Boneset, Virginia Bower Clematis and Blood-root.

G has drilled drainage holes in 20  gallon sized milk jugs for me (four in the bottoms and four more about 2 inches around the sides of the jugs.  I will then cut the tops of the jugs open, leaving the handle portion connected like a flip top.

This makes it easy to check inside the jugs to see if they need watering or if the seeds have sprouted.  Also on warm sunny days, the tops can be left open and then closed as the day gets cooler or for the evening.  These days of being opened to the sun and breezes makes the little seedlings very sturdy.  Because they are getting real sunlight not the manufactured light indoors.  Also it's cooler.  And seedlings do not grow well in "too warm" room temps.

But the real reason I am doing this a second year---it's so much easier.  

Well, now that I have the jugs I have to start cutting the tops open (but not the portion with the handle).

After filling with damp soil, seeds (read the package to see if seeds need to be covered or just lay on top of the soil) 
marking the jug with the name of the seeds inside----- Use industrial sharpie pens.
I will then seal the jugs closed with duct tape and set them outside.  
Oh, remove the top cap.  that way snow and rain can go inside.