Winter Sowing: Easy Seed Starting for Beginner Gardeners

When I first started gardening, there was one huge obstacle that stood in my way when it came to growing the garden of my dreams – seed starting. Though starting seeds can be done in a variety of ways, I quickly realized that not all plants can be direct sown. Without an indoor growlight system, I simply assumed that there were things I couldn’t start from seed. Imagine my disappointment! 

After a couple growing seasons, I stumbled upon the “winter sowing” method. Simply, the winter sowing method is a way to start seeds by which recycled containers serve as “miniature greenhouses”. 

The process is simple:

  1. Find a container. The container needs to be clear or lightly opaque. Two liter bottles and milk jugs are great winter sowing containers. Ideally, we want light to be able to easily pass through the bottle. There also needs to be an opening at the top of the bottle for ventilation, and so that rain and snow can enter. 
  2. Cut the container in half, leaving a small hinge so that the cut bottle and “open” and “close”. Add drainage holes to the bottom of the bottle. Be careful during this step. Some plastics are much harder than others and may be difficult to cut. 
  3. Fill the bottle with 3-6 inches of seed starting medium or potting soil. Make sure that the soil is moist at the time of planting. 
  4. Sow seeds into the container according to package instructions.
  5. Tape the bottle closed and place outside in direct sunlight. Wait until the seeds begin to germinate. 

That’s it! It’s really that simple. Depending upon what you’re planting, some containers can be sowed in even the harshest of climates. This technique is especially useful for starting hard-to-germinate perennial flower seeds and herbs. 

Want more information about winter sowing? Check out this free .pdf guide by clicking here!

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.