This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

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Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Mar 27, 2009

Two great, recent finds!


I’ve found a couple noteworthy sites that I wanted to share with you all.

The first one is an intriguing idea for starting seeds that I plan on trying. The concept is simple and anyone can do it with a few recyclables I’m sure we all have saved and have on hand. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there that have already discovered this great method- but for those of you that haven’t, take a look at it. Trudi Davidoff, at was tired of the stress of getting all those seeds started in spring and came up with a great idea. You should read it, if you choose to, but I’ll try my best to describe the idea here too-

You want to find a container that has a clear lid if possible, but Trudi and others using this method, use a variety of containers. So lets use a lasagna pan as an example- the frozen kind that comes with a clear lid. Make drainage holes in the bottom and then make a few slashes or holes in the lid. Add the soil and water it well as usual. Sow your seeds- there are lists of plants that can be started this way on her site as well. Close the lid and secure it with tape, label it and set it outside in full winter! Now the idea here is that you’re working with nature- no heat, except what builds up in the container and the excess is vented through the holes in the lid. No artificial light. It’s watered by the rain and snow and might even freeze, but seeds not sown by us go through this cycle- so they’ll be fine, and the excess water drains out the bottom. The seeds know much better than we do when it’s time to germinate- is the idea.  You’re making a mini greenhouse, but using it in winter and the seeds will come up when they should- there is no forcing here. It’s one step better than direct sowing because the seeds are protected just enough that germination has a much better chance.

Now here is the best part. When the seeds germinate you start making more holes in the lid each week or make the slits bigger. By the time the seedlings are ready for transplanting, they’ve been hardened off. The resulting plant is hardier, and can go right in the ground :). The transplants will be smaller than usual, but much stronger.

After reading through her site, and looking at the photo gallery, I am more than intrigued! I am definitely going to give this a try! There is one thing I know I’ll do different, however. The way I sow my seeds now, in single cells, whether it be soil blocks, 6 packs, 50 cell plug flat or 200 cell plug flat, makes it easier in the long run because there is no ‘pricking out’. A tedious job to say the least. I can’t stand untangling roots of little seedlings, hoping I don’t damage them in the process. Most people I’ve seen using this method just sprinkle the seeds when sowing. If there is going to be any part of it that’s tedious, I’d rather it be when I’m actually sowing the seeds, not transplanting them :). Of course there will be exceptions- like with really tiny seeds, but in general I will try to space them a little bit.

Maybe a few of you have tried this method- I’d love to hear all about your experiences with it! And if anyone wants to join me in trying this in the coming winter (seems so far away,) we can all cheer each other on- I may try to do the Mister Linky thing, if I can figure out how to use it :), or If I have time to maintain in. We have a long way to go until winter, so I’m going to start looking at the containers I want to use in the meantime.


Now onto the next site.

Sarah, at, has a really great project going. Along with quite a few volunteers, she is creating an organic garden at the Coffee Creek Prison for Women in Wilsonville. There are a few local businesses that have generously donated a lot of materials such as soil amendments, seeds, etc. That’s how I found out about it, through Concentrates, Inc. in Portland- I read about it on their blog. I think it is wonderful what they’re doing, so go check it out! I have attempted to contact Sarah to get more info and will do a follow up post about it when I hear from her.

Happy Gardening,



  • Daphne

    I've always loved the wintersow idea. I didn't do it mind you, but I meant to. :/ Maybe next year I'll get around to it. I wonder if soil blocks work with wintersowing.

  • Claudia

    I love your site. I'm new to the blog world. Are those paper towels I see as peat pots? What holds them together? Thanks,

  • Karen

    I heard about wintersown veggies for the first time at our garden bloggers' meeting last weekend. I'm not a great seed starter but the idea is intriguing. Going to check out the other site too, that sounds like a really worthy project.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Daphne- I was wondering the same thing about using soil blocks. I'm going to try it this winter :)

    Claudia- Glad you like it and welcome to the world of blogging! You'll meet many great people along the way! If you need any help just email me using the little blue envelope at the top :). I'm not sure what you're referring to about the pots. Did you stumble upon the soil blocks? If so there just that- soil blocks, not pot at all. I hope that answers your question, if not just let me know!

    Karen- Thanks for stopping by again! I plan of watching their progress at the prison- I think it's great what they are doing!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tessa~~ The lasagna pans: Brand new ones, a pack of two with see-through lids at the Dollar Tree. I've used these for the past few years with success but not exclusively. I also employ plastic storage bins. (A Fine Gardening Magazine hint a few years ago.) I take the white, rectangular bins, turn them over and use the lid as a platform for seed trays. The body of the bin then goes over the platform/lid to form a mini greenhouse. I hope this makes sense.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Grace- Oh! Good! I was going to go check out Dollar Tree to see what they have- now I know just what to get! I like the bin idea too, but I would think it would be hard to make the holes in the lid bigger or more of them once they germinate? Thanks for the tips, Grace.

  • Gardeness

    Catherine at A Gardener in Progress has had much success with winter sowing. Seems like a great thing for us impatient gardeners. The other site is a very cool project. Thanks for sharing.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Gardeness- I knew Catherine had started seeds this year, I'd forgotten the method she used. I'll have to pick her brain (sounds so awful!) about her results!

  • Tom - 7th Street Cottage

    I'm growing almost 200 containers this year. Wintersowing is so easy and it really does work. You still have time to start annuals and perennials that don't need cold stratification. I've got dogwood seedlings. And lilac. And mock orange, and crape myrtle, and tons of flowers, veggies, and just about anything I could sow.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Tom- Thanks for stopping by! 200 containers, wow! I think I may try the winter sowing this year- using the little heater in the greenhouse was not my cup of tea. It didn't cost that much- but it was a pain :) Some day I hope to have a much bigger greenhouse and be in a location that a solar one would make much more sense. That combined with the winter sowing- that's a lot of plants.

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