Homesteading for the Average Jane

An average mom, trying her hand at suburban homesteading!


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Winter sown seeds going into garden today!

Wow, what a difference a few weeks make! On April 1st, I transferred my winter sown seeds from their milk jug green houses to large pots. Here is how they looked today before I planted them in my straw bales.

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As you can see my lettuce is doing great, we regularly go out to clip lettuce for salads and here you can see my son munching on some greens as we hang out!

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Not pictured are my yellow squash and my lone spaghetti squash. I had given up on these winter seeds producing but out of the blue I went out and they were farther along than my indoor sown seeds and ready to plant!

We shall see how they all produce!


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No fools, this April First! Winter sowing transplants!

Well it is April 1st and is a beautiful day here in Tennessee. My winter sown seeds are doing great and are getting really crowded in the jugs so I decided to transplant them into pots. Some will stay in pots but many will be transplanted into straw bales by the end of the month.

 

I decided to start with my bibb lettuce which is growing at an amazing rate! My lettuce will stay in containers throughout the Summer so that I can move them to cooler spots when the sun is at it’s hottest.

I started with some long window box planters and added some large pine nuggets in the bottom, this really helps with drainage because the soil doesn’t get packed down in the holes.

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Next, I fill them nearly to the top with soil. I use a planting soil that is organic and consists of horse manure, mushroom compost, leaves, and soil. It is mixed locally so I trust it and I am helping a local business with my purchase.

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Next I dumped the jug, you can see how well the roots are established! I separated them carefully and planted them in clumps, with any luck they will spread out and fill the pots, providing us with lots of nice salads throughout the summer.

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Next, I worked on my head lettuce, It should be ready to transplant later as it gets bigger.

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I finished up with my cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts which will all be transplanted into the straw bales.

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Last but not least, Lbug gave them a good drink of water with my make shift watering can. It is just a milk jug with some holes punched in the top. It makes giving a good slow drink to the plants a breeze without having so much flow that the soil is washed from the roots, plus it is free!

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I still have crookneck squash, zucchini, and spaghetti squash are just starting to sprout, hopefully they will be ready to transplant in a few more weeks.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts on winter planting. I have certainly enjoyed using this easy method and I will definitely expand on this technique next Winter.


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Mid-March winter sowing!

Well my plants are really taking off. I have had to cover my ‘mini-greenhouses” on and off for the last month but I wanted to show you what my winter sown seeds are doing now.

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As you can see, I have lots of beautiful and healthy starts. What you see in these pictures are bibb lettuce, head lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. For now I am uncovering them and during the day and then closing the lids at night. So far I have not had to water these jugs one time! I can’t wait to get these transplanted.

Oh, and I had a little taste of the bibb lettuce…it was delicious.


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Winter sowing…seeds get first snow!

So it is January 28th, 2014 and we were hit with a little snow storm! It was fast and furious! And I know many of you would scoff at 2 inches of snow but for lower, middle Tennessee it is a big deal. Anyway, after days of freezing temps we finally got some snow and my winter sown seeds are the benefactors.

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As you can see there is some snow inside the jugs and around the tops, as the temperature increases over the next few days (it is supposed to be in the 50’s by Saturday) the process of freezing and thawing will continue!

 


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Seeds for Winter-Sowing Going out TODAY!

So I showed everyone to how I made my containers for winter-sowing. With the help of my daughter, LBug, I got all my hardy seeds sown. Since it is 14 degrees outside we decided to work at the kitchen table.  HINT: I keep a crib sheet that I use to cover my table for messy projects like painting and potting, then I can just toss it in the wash!

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We put about 3 to 4 inches of organic potting soil in each bucket, the soil was already pre-moistened, but not too wet, since it set out in the rain! Make sure that the soil is loose and not packed down so that the roots can form. With this process it is not necessary to nick or soak seeds. The freezing and thawing they will go through over the next few months soften the seeds and prepare them for germination.

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We did space seeds that need spacing and others we spread across the top and covered with about a 1/4 inch of soil. This go we are starting the following seeds:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Brussels Sprouts
  4. Cabbage
  5. Spaghetti Squash
  6. Bibb Lettuce
  7. Head lettuce
  8. Crookneck Squash
  9. Zucchini
  10. Parsley

I plan to start some tender plants in March and April the same way but it is just too cold right now. I am also starting some of these plants indoors. Since I am new to starting plants from seeds I want to have several options! When the seeds are sown all you need to do now is put on a piece of duct tape to keep the tops closed and remove all the lids.

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Next find a good spot in your yard. I chose my patio because it gets good afternoon sun and some shade and is protected from the wind. I put them all up on a table so that they are protected from neighborhood dogs and such. Make sure they are accessible to the rain and snow!

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* It was not snowing the day I put them out! This is a few days later…

As you can see I placed them in the back yard on my patio table. I can keep and eye on them out the kitchen window and they get the sun and weather exposure they need.


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How to prepare Containers for Winter-Sowing

I have very limited space for seed starting, so this year I have decided to experiment with winter-sowing. I first learned about it from Pinterest and winter-sowing.org. Right now I have around 20 containers and I am starting a variety of seeds (hardy to zone 7b ). Here are my containers!

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I cut each jug around the middle until I got to the handle, this becomes the hinge. Then I used a permanent marker to label each jug with it’s contents. On the day I actually plant I will add the date. I also write the plant and date on the bottom of each in case the tops get sun faded.

Next I had to put some drainage holes in the bottom. I realized rather quickly that punching holes in the bottom would take forever and I would probably lose a finger doing it with a craft knife! So back to winter-sow.org I went and it suggested using a soldering iron or heated screw driver. I chose the soldering iron. My husband does some wiring work so we happen to have one. It made the job a breeze!

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It only took a few moments for each milk jug. Tomorrow I will fill with potting soil and seeds! Stay tuned!