I have read many theories on the best soil mix type, but prefer a light consistency that drains well and will not compact. I pre-soak three to four gallons worth of a perlite peat moss mixture in advance to be sure it is well saturated. Then if it’s a typical winter day, I do all of my planting tasks in the kitchen sink. It’s messy, but worth it.
In the bottom of each milk jug I place three to four inches of soil and add a little more water until it drains out the bottom. The soil should be really wet because that’s how this system works. Then plant the seeds according to the packet directions. In nature, the seeds are just scattered, so that’s what I do. I am trying to mimic Mother Nature. Then lightly smooth the soil so that the seeds make contact with it. I tell them to “sleep tight” and “do your thing.” Close the lid and secure it. This does not have to be a complete seal. Kim does this by twisting a pipe cleaner between a hole she punches on the top portion and one on the bottom for easy opening and closing. I use several methods with whatever tape is handy.
Now, label your treasures with a fade-resistant, waterproof marker — or you could be in for some surprises come spring.
Situate in a sunny spot
To find a perfect home for your greenhouses, look for an outside location that is out of the wind, preferably in nearly full sun. They should face the elements, but not be in the direct path of dogs or cats. I lost some expensive petunias because my cat jumped on to the jug and knocked it over. Some folks place their jugs in under-the-bed plastic storage boxes with drainage holes in that as well.
We both check on our jugs often to make sure they don’t dry out. It is best to keep the soil moist. How often we add water really depends on the weather — wind, rain or snow.
One day after a big snowfall, Kim had a neighbor coming to plow her drive. Over the noise of his loader, Kim was out there yelling at him “don’t touch my jugs.” Of course she had to explain the growing process to him and show him the plant jugs that were covered completely with snow. He avoided them, but she’s pretty sure he had no idea what she was talking about.
Germination really depends on your seeds. We experiment so much knowing it is inexpensive. We had great luck this year with most of the seeds we saved and acquired. But we didn’t have as much luck with older seeds. We bought a few packets that assured us of 95 percent germination, and that held true.
Enjoy your garden
We both have enjoyed introducing kids to gardening and teaching them about winter sowing. We have been saving quite a few seeds, and it will be fun to share and exchange seeds with other like-minded gardeners. But mostly, we just like the process of getting our fingers in the dirt during the winter.
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