Easy Winter Seed Sowing

It’s a common held belief that one cannot sow seeds during the winter months. You’re always told you need special lights, and it has to be the right time of year. This is the way Dad did it every year. I got looking around my environment though.

Every year the world blooms by itself – even in the cold areas like Maine. We don’t have to go out and replant the entire state after all. Somehow, mother nature is protecting the seeds throughout the winter and regrowing everything without giant commercial grow lights suspended in the atmosphere.

I know this is hardly a new concept – I was sold when I came across the process of winter sowing seeds with nothing more than:

  • re-used plastic containers
  • twine 
  • Dirt (some websites said 5:1 ratio of soil to peat moss buutt we only had a peatmoss mix on hand so we’ll see what happens hah)
  • Seeds (my personal preference is Johnny’s or High Mowing Seeds, a fully organic seed place out of VT)

The sun is, after all, one giant grow light. If you’re interested in trying winter sowing, I suggest checking out this website for a plethora of information including what to grow in your zone and when.  The ‘Winter Sown’ website is the best there is it seems like.

Anyway after a lot of searching around I realized how easy this was to do.

First up, before you start any process get your containers. I chose milk jugs. Since we rarely buy milk (and if we do it’s in glass jars from our local dairy) we had none. Thankfully my coworkers toddler goes through tons of whole milk. Score for us. You can also use things like clear soda or water bottles, those to-go food containers with the clear plastic top and black bottom, etc. Since I chose plastic jugs though, this tutorial is on them.

1. Using an exacto knife, regular knife or scissors, puncture holes in the bottom of your container. It will be easier to do this now while your container is still in one piece.

2. Next, using your cutting item, cut about 4 inches from the bottom of your container around but make sure to leave about a one inch hinge in the back. You do not want this cut the entire way through. It doesn’t really matter where you make the hinge.

3.) On the side opposite of your hinged edge, punch two holes on either side of the cut edge. You want these to line up when closed. You can see the holes in the photo above a little bit.

4.) Once all of your cuts are made fill that baby with soil. Yes, I did this in our house on our hardwood floors. Why? Because I can vacuum dirt up.

5. Now this next step can either be done here, or before you put your soil in – but I like to do it at this point (probably because messy soil is fun). Mix some water into your soil to make it just moist and combine.

6. Don’t accidentally dump soil and seeds on the floor. They are a pain to get out from between boards.

7. Put your seeds in the soil according to the package. Or, sprinkle them on top and slightly press them in and cover with a little more soil like I did. Ooorr following the package for whatever you’re sowing.


8.) Loop some twine through the holes you punctured and tie on the outside.

9.) Make sure your cap is removed from your container. Repeat for all of the rest of your seeds. We went with tomatoes, chard and spinach.

10.) Place somewhere outside it will receive plenty of sun and can have rain enter it through the top, but is still pretty protected. We have a rather large soffet on our house, so I put ours under the soffet on the gravel.

Okay? But….what next?

Well, from what I’ve read once the temperatures get warmer you can open up your seeds a little bit to get nice air circulation (see photo below) and water them. Eventually you can just flip them all the way open and let the sun hit full on, and then close them back up when it’s cool out.

I will definitely be updating you more as my own personal process goes on. To be completely honest, I figure I have about a 50/50 chance of this working. Between maybe not using the right soil mixture, to starting it late, to the fact that my green thumb exists about as naturally as unicorn spam, it’s a crap shoot. That said, the process of setting these up is right – I know that much. These natural little green houses seem to be pretty darn awesome, so here’s to hoping mother nature can make up for my unicorn spam thumb.

Happy Gardening (In March),


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