Winter Dreams & Garden Seeds Plant Them Both Now

By Linda Wiggen Kraft


January is when a gardener begins to plant dreams of the soon-to-be growing garden.  Daydreams, wishings, and yearnings are all necessary preparations for a garden’s growth.  The imaginings that take place in a gardener’s mind and heart dig deep into the soil and soul of the garden itself, readying it to receive the seeds and plants that will grow.

The cold snowy days of the New Year are the perfect time to begin imagining the garden, and the perfect time to sow some seeds outside.  First choose the seeds.  This usually involves snuggling into a cozy spot, a cup of hot tea or cider, and a pile of seed catalogs. Many hours can be spent perusing the pages of flower and vegetables that take the breath away and make us salivate at the tasty offerings. Second buy seeds at garden centers or through a catalog.  Third sort the seeds, separating those for winter planting that need a cold period to germinate. Poppies, larkspur, cleome, sunflowers and violas are a few annuals that won’t germinate without cold.  Purple coneflower, astilbe and yarrow are a few perennials that need cold too.

There are two methods for planting seeds outdoors in January and the winter.  Seeds can be sprinkled on the ground or on top of the snow, and left to germinate on their own.  The second method is called winter sowing, which involves putting soil and seeds in containers to protect from birds, animals and washing away.  The containers are left over food containers like milk jugs or pie plates.

Winter sowing was developed by Trudi Davidoff when she had too many seeds and not enough space or money to start seeds indoors.  She began to plant seeds in the winter in covered old food containers that held at least 3 inches of soil, had room for plant growth and could be punctured for ventilation and drainage.  These mini-greenhouses provide a natural environment for seeds of flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees.  Both cold loving and some warm loving plants like tomatoes can be started with this method. The containers are set outside to let rain and snow in through the vent holes.  They do have to be checked for moisture and heat, especially once the plants have germinated. Trudi’s website and a Gardenweb forum provide tons of information on this growing method and a community of people devoted to it.  The website is: www.wintersowing.org.  There is detailed information about how to do it, what seeds to plant and contact links to others.

Let this year be the year to plant more seeds than ever.  Start in January and let your garden grow winter, spring, summer and fall.