Winter sowing

tracey auburn
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Joined: January 7th, 2003, 9:08 pm

January 28th, 2004, 10:05 pm #1

Have been reading up this subject on a few american sites and thought i would give it a go.
Has anyone here ever tried this method,if so what were your results like?
Can,t seem to find any UK sites dealing with this subject.
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DeeDee571
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Joined: October 23rd, 2003, 7:28 pm

January 28th, 2004, 10:52 pm #2

I regularly sow seeds from the Autumn onwards - always in the (unheated) greenhouse though, but there again I don't sow directly into the garden. I get great results, the seeds may be a little slower to germinate and grow, but once the warm weather starts in spring the seedling romp away and give much bigger plants to get out into the garden. I currently have about 60 lots of seedlings, and as soon as I can get motivated to prick them out will be sowing lots more.
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salli c
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Joined: February 13th, 2003, 4:35 pm

January 29th, 2004, 9:34 am #3

Presumably they are all hardy plants you grow in this way DeeDee?


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Plantsman64
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 5:52 pm

January 29th, 2004, 11:46 am #4

Hello Tracey,
All the advice we see regarding precise sowing times can lead the new gardener to think there is no tolerance. In fact any viable seed given the correct environment with regard to moisture and temperature will germinate during winter. Other factors come into play which will govern the percentage of germination and the goodness of the seedlings. Percentages are of course all important to the commercial grower as are optimum growing conditions after germination - not quite so stringent for the amateur.
The seeds of many plants, especially hardy subjects, tend to give better germination if sown as soon as ripe. Others may be stored until the following spring. Some will germinate quicker and with a higher percentage if a period of stratification (a period of chilling) is applied. This can be given artificially by refrigeration or by sowing in late autumn and winter and exposing the containers to natural temperatures but protected from both drying out and excess moisture. A cold frame would be ideal. Others, and larger seed may require to be scarified to physically degrade the hard seed coat.
During the short days of low light in winter time it is vital to give the seedlings the required light intensity, quality and duration commensurate with adequate moisture and a temperature held at the lower end of the required range. The aim being to guard against rapid and spindly growth.
I would say that winter sowing in the UK is more often than not born out of the desire to 'get gardening' rather than any great benefit over very late winter or spring sowing, although, it will result in spreading the load of the propagator who produces a large number of plants. Whether or not winter sowings will result in quality plants and earlier maturity can only be fully determined by experimentation in our own gardening environment using the equipment we have.

Outside the UK there may be other reasons for winter sowing such as a winter that extends far beyond that which we experience and results in a very short outdoor growing season.Peter
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scotia10
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Joined: June 24th, 2003, 2:12 am

January 29th, 2004, 12:54 pm #5

Not an expert on this by any means but as I see it; we tend to use quite a bit of biennial culture which is not unsimilar.
I think geography and its ambient teperatures have a large part to play in this.
I think the american winter culture is generally for perennial plants, as opposed to annuals, and they don't tend to grow biennials as such, at least as far as I know.
In the UK biennial culture is generally used for less than hardy perennials. I guess we are a bit of a half way house in this method of growing.
Well thats my opinion for what it is worth
http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk
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tracey auburn
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Joined: January 7th, 2003, 9:08 pm

January 29th, 2004, 1:29 pm #6

Thanks for your replies,i took the plunge and sowed heucheras and hardy geraniums in covered seed trays and put outside in a sheltered spot,will let you all know what if anything happens.
For anyone who may be interested heres a link to a very good site that covers this subject.
www.wintersown.org
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Plantsman64
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January 29th, 2004, 1:53 pm #7

My preference would be to sow geraniums as soon as the seed are ripe and the heucheras in spring - but, as I mentioned before, tolerances are great when it comes to seed sowing times and I'm sure you will have success with your sowings.Peter
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DeeDee571
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Joined: October 23rd, 2003, 7:28 pm

January 29th, 2004, 1:56 pm #8

'I would say that winter sowing in the UK is more often than not born out of the desire to 'get gardening' rather than any great benefit over very late winter or spring sowing, '
Sorry Plantsman - I can't agree with the above statement at all.
I sow a large number of seeds in autumn/winter and find my results are excellent, I only grow perennials, bulbs and shrubs from seed, no annuals and no biennials. The seeds germinate well and there is enough light, even in this cloudy county, in a bubblewrapped greenhouse to prevent legginess. The plants are certainly sturdier, and healthy when they are planted out in spring and establish well, as they have the benefit of the cooler spring weather and moisture to become established, they don't need the constant watering that sometimes has to be done with spring sown seeds that are planted out in summer.
I can however, agree that most seeds benefit from being sown fresh, hellebores being one, I always sow seeds as soon as they are ripe in aroung May. They don't tend to germinate until around Christmas time but I usually get around 98% germination.
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Plantsman64
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 5:52 pm

January 29th, 2004, 2:10 pm #9

Yes, I agree Scotia. My thoughts are always with the many gardeners who don't have the optimum conditions available such as a nice light glasshouse, heated or otherwise but have to make do with windowsill propagation or/and the use of supplementary lighting to produce good growth. This being an international forum I'm sure we should consider those friends in the northern states and Canada who carry out winter sowings in the cellars or grow rooms. Basing advice solely on our own facilities and environment can be misleading to many.Peter
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tracey auburn
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Joined: January 7th, 2003, 9:08 pm

February 6th, 2004, 11:28 pm #10

Just a quick update,on the 1st of feb among a lot of others i sowed lettuce,corn cockles and angels choir poppies,today they sprouted,jumping up and down like a big kid:
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kitty58
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Joined: April 8th, 2003, 11:51 pm

February 7th, 2004, 1:20 am #11

I'm about to start sowing...just waiting for a muscle bound to help me carry compost from car to Greenhouse

Kitty



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Joined: December 6th, 2003, 8:45 pm

February 7th, 2004, 9:24 am #12

HI Interesting I have been in the cold greenhouse this morning and have found two seed trays with seedlings sprouting Eccremocarpus sown in autumn well november to be correct (cherry red form ) sown fresh from the pod and Sollya Heterophylla again sown fresh last spring. considering the house has been below freezing for a few days ,I feel these seeds have done well .The sollya especially as the contents of the sollya tray were going to go through the shreader for use in the boarders . I think I will try some other plants next Autumn.
Regards Richard
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scotia10
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Joined: June 24th, 2003, 2:12 am

February 7th, 2004, 2:02 pm #13

Glad to hear of your success Richard.
I think you will find the soil in your trays is relatively dry, whereas if you had left them outside the chances of success would have been much less.
Its water, cold water at that, that kills off most outdoor autumn sown seed, not the freezing temperatures.
http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk
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