Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sowing for six more weeks

In the inverse logic of Groundhog's Day, today's sunny, mild weather means six more weeks of snow and ice. What better time to try winter sowing seeds? In a recent post, Carleton Gardener provided some links to this simple means of getting a jump on spring. And it sounded like just the treatment to combat seasonal affective disorder--or "seasonal defective disorder" as my son malaprops it. Yes, six more weeks of winter does seem rather defective.

Anyway, the basic idea here is to create little cloches or cold frames by recycling some of those plastic containers that end up anyway in the recycling bin. I started small with a gallon milk bottle.

After cutting the milk bottle in half and using my refined culinary skills to melt holes in the base with a hot fondue fork, I washed both parts of the bottle in a 1:10 bleach solution. A damp potting soil and peat moss mixture went into the lower portion.

Mallow seeds from Bestitched were scattered over the top and just covered with a little more potting mix. I'm not sure of these seeds' species or even genus--common mallow (Malva sylvestris), rose mallow (Lavatera trimestris), musk mallow (Malva moschata), whatever--but at least some varieties appear on lists of successfully winter sown seeds.

Join the top and bottom of the bottle with a belt of duct tape. Check out that high-tech HVAC system: holes covered by resealable duct tape tabs.

And then, outside it goes--here by a scrabbly mess of winter self-sown larkspur and over-wintering thyme. The south-facing location, while level, seems sunnier than the experts advise. Maybe that only matters once seedlings appear, between April and June, again according to the experts. Looking forward to the sight of those seed leaves!


kate said...

I think this is a wonderful way to counter the winter blahs. I should go and read more about winter sowing to know if it is possible to do here. With our temperatures as cold as they are, I can't imagine that any seeds would survive.

Nan - said...

I'm way impressed! Mallow is just about my favorite. It is hardy, it keeps right on blooming for ages, and it is pink (or white) and cheery. I know some call it 'common' but I love it.

carletongardener said...

I am sooo looking forward to winter planting soon. I'm aiming for Feb 15 and I hope to find a big bag of soil soon. Mallow sounds great!

So does it correct the disaffective disorder? I can use all the help I can get in this area.