When I first heard those words, I didn’t quite know what they meant. Yes, I am a sewer and it is winter, so what is the big deal? I started with some research and boy did I learn a lot.

It is a way for you to start seeds outdoors in the winter. Why should you do it? It takes no space inside, no light set-up, the plants don’t need to be hardened off and Mother Nature does the work! You turn clean gallon milk jugs into mini-greenhouses. Other supplies you need are a ruler, sharp knife, magic marker labels, duct tape, and some potting soil and seeds, things you probably already have at home.

Take your milk jug (the see-through kind) and cut it in half, but be sure to leave a 1” hinge under the handle. You won’t need the cap. Add 2” of soil in the jug. Plant your seeds as directed on the package, water them well. Make it so wet it looks like mud. Don’t drain it yet. Duct tape the two halves together and write what kind of seeds are in the jug. Take it outside and with your sharp knife, poke holes in the bottom for drainage.

The best place for your mini-greenhouse is anywhere in your yard, but avoid the southwest corner of your yard. That is too much sun and will bake your plants! Under a bush or picnic table or beside your garage are great places.

February is time to sow perennials that need cold stratification, Mid-Late March, sow hardier annuals, and Late March to Early April sow, tender annuals, vegetables, and herbs.

Examples of perennial seeds that work well are coneflower, black-eyed Susans, balloon flower, foxglove, delphinium, Shasta daisies, Liatris, blanket flower, and many more.

Annual seeds that work well are morning glory, snapdragon, marigold, cosmos, zinnias, or any annual flower that reseeds itself in your garden.

In the spring you will see your seeds sprouting. Make sure your seeds are getting enough water and ventilation. Poke a few more holes in some of the tape to allow for more air circulation. Once it warms upenough remove the lids and either transplant the seedlings into larger pots or directly plant them in your garden.

There are a lot of great articles written about winter sowing if you need more information, but I just thought I would introduce you to a fun way to get gardening in the winter! Good luck and have fun.

Lorrie Rugg is the Steele County Master Gardener Coordinator.

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