Wintersown Seeds

For a gardener, new seeds are exciting and curiously so to the nongardener.  Add heirloom varieties and a surprise that comes in the mail and you've got the perfect storm of interest for me.

Several weeks ago now, I signed up to receive Wintersown seeds from a group that sends them for free.  Seeds get me jazzed anyway.  And free.  Heirloom varieties.  Does it get any better?  They arrived in the mail a week or so later with names like Chudo Rinka Tomatoes and one seed packet that was hand written and simply called Early Peas. 

The idea behind wintersown seeds is that you can plant almost anything, have it germinate when it's ready an not worry about grow lights, dampening off or seedlings that need hardening off. 

The process is a new one to me and if it is successful, the easiest and best way to start seeds that I've ever come across.  In essence, you create mini-greenhouses with whatever containers you have on hand.  I used the black, flats that seedlings usually come in, with the clear plastic tops for the cover.  After moistening potting soil, I leveled four flats filled with rich, earthy smelling, inky richness and planted row upon row of seeds.  Over 60 varieties in all.  I then set them outside close to the house in the sun to keep them a little warmer and out of the strong wind our property is subject to.

WinterSown3My seeds have just begun to appear above the 2 inch layer of potting soil.  They are brave little beings as the nights have still been primarily below freezing.  And what seems to be happening is that the seeds that are cold hardy are germinating first – the Fordhook Swiss Chard, Forellenschluss Lettuce, Calabrese Broccoli, Rocket and Runway Arugula and Mache are all popping their tiny little heads up.  The basil and tomatoes are still dormant, but I expect them to surface with in a week or two. 

I'll then transplant the little babies underneath the covered rows in the garden and hopefully we'll have lettuce from the garden in April.  You might not actually be able to see any little green guys growning in this soil, but trust me, they are there and I'm excited!


I'll let you know when we've had our first salad dressed with lemon and olive oil!

© 2009 Anne Mahle

Seeds Came Today!

My stash of seeds from previous years is fairly large and while the germination of the seeds is reduced over time, they still do fairly well.  The new seeds, ordered from Seed Savers Exchange and John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds came today.  The excitement and eagerness that comes from tiny packets of seeds on a gray, wet day is familiar to gardeners who pour over catalogs dreaming of a garden filled with fresh, bright, healthy plants.  It always comes as somewhat of a surprise to me when I am, yet again, over the top excited about tiny specks, balls and flecks.  But when I see the seeds, I'm immediately transported into a future garden filled with strong, healthy plants that give and give.

John Scheepers had artichokes, which I've always wanted to grow.  The Seed Savers Exchange mailer was fuller as they had varieties of tomatoes, peppers and greens that were written about in the Arrows Restaurant CookbookArrows is a restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine which has been growing its own produce for years.  They are about two hours south of us, and I figured if a cold climate variety worked for them, it should probably grow well for us too.

Waiting for seeds to become seedlings