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FAQ's about Winter Sowing
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FAQ's about Winter Sowing

Answering your most frequently asked questions about winter sowing❄️


  • What seeds are good for winter sowing and when should I plant? 
More than you would think! Here's what Matthew suggests - 
January: All hardy perennials and natives
February: Hardy annuals, perennials, Cole crops (brassicas)
March: Tender annuals, vegetables and whatever else you want to experiment with!

Best to start your winter sowing some time after January 1st in all planting zones. Winter temperatures fluctuate a lot lately but you can use your final frost date as a ‘loose’ guide. Just remember, this method tends to lengthen the time it takes to reach harvest or full bloom so choose the seeds you have patience to watch grow!


Find our full list of seeds for winter sowing HERE


  • What seeds should I avoid if choosing to winter sow?

We do not recommend winter sowing anything in the cucumber or squash family. They tend to not germinate well this way and they don’t like their roots disturbed, so they’re best started indoors.


  • The idea is a seed will get a head start?

Winter sowing means that the seeds will germinate on ‘Mother Nature’s’ clock. If you want to give plants a head start or have preferences on when things will bloom or produce, we recommend starting your seeds indoors.


  • Should I be checking on them periodically to see if they need watering?

As long as you gave the soil a good soaking when prepping you should not have to add water to them until your evenings are consistently above 40 degrees.

The milk jug containers have an opening at the top to let rain/snow fall through. You can choose to add holes to the top of the salad container lids as well. In most cases, the containers will have sufficient water to last them until Spring - just check on them once in a while, if they feel particularly light give them a drink!


  • Should I use potting soil or seed starting soil?

You can use both! We usually use some combination of potting soil and seedling mix. The soil should feel light in your hand; light enough for the seed to not be suffocated and the water to drain out efficiently.


  • What happens if a snowstorm hits and they get buried?

Let them get buried! This is a great blanket to keep them even warmer and they will get a great drink of water as the snow melts. 


  • Won’t the closed containers get too hot when it gets sunny?

On the days where temperatures stay above 50 degrees, open up the tops of your containers to let them breathe. Close them when the sun goes down. You want your overnight temps to stay above 40 degrees before leaving them open full time. The salad container plastic is thinner than a milk jug so they will heat slightly differently. Punching a few holes in the tops of either container will help with air circulation and temperature regulation.


Got more questions? Leave a comment below and we'll get back to you in no thyme🌿

16 comments on FAQ's about Winter Sowing

  • Barbra Elizabeth
    Barbra ElizabethJanuary 10, 2024

    Great and timely email as I’m getting the “itch” to begin Spring sowing. Thank you ever so much! Will work on my order later today as I’m preparing for my PT appointment. Happy Sowing! Barbra Elizabeth

  • Brenda Aymond
    Brenda AymondApril 13, 2023

    This my first year winter sowing. I am totally hooked. I used milk jugs, salad containers, rotisserie containers, clear totes with individual pots inside, just about anything clear. I have been very successful and a lot of seedlings are already in the garden. I started in February and continued as I acquired containers. I will continue to sow using this method even though it is now spring. I will say it’s a little different for thise of us in the deep south. High temperatures 70 and 80s started in mid February through mid March. Followed by three mornings of freezing temps. Now we’re past our last frost date and I’m planting out seedlings again.

  • Pinetree Garden Seeds
    Pinetree Garden SeedsMarch 20, 2023

    Hi Valanne,

    The delay to harvest time varies depending on how your season has gone. It’s just about growing on Mother Nature’s clock as opposed to indoors in a more controlled environment. Most likely, your collards would only be delayed by a few weeks!

  • Pinetree Garden Seeds
    Pinetree Garden SeedsMarch 20, 2023

    Hi Linda,

    Plastic pots won’t carry the same effect as they’re not enclosed. The goal is to create a mini greenhouse effect with a few holes for ventilation and rain water to get in so ideally, you’re looking for something with a top.

  • Jesse
    JesseMarch 18, 2023

    Have winter sowed for over 20 years. I’m getting a late start this year, but use containers in my new location to protect my plants from the local wildlife. It’s SO much easier than tending indoor starting under lights & some of mine will be milkweeds & such that need the chill!

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