It’s the dead of winter. Your outdoor permaculture garden is utterly dormant, waiting for the icy winds, snows and frosts to melt away under the warm breath of spring, so that you can dig, sow and mulch it back to life.
But wait! We’re here with a gardening PSA that will delight all gardeners mournfully waiting for spring’s arrival in order to get their hands dirty again: you can sow seeds in the snow! In this article, we’re going to show you an awesome, effective technique for planting seeds outside while the snow is still hanging around.
The seedlings will be tougher than ones started off indoors.
They won’t take up space inside.
You don’t have to check dates and plan a planting calendar for these babies - you can start whenever you like.
Your garden gets going early.
In fact, this method is extra special because it’s also a recycling method. It uses non-biodegradable trash from your household to protect your plants from the cold. So you’re not just nurturing your eco organic garden… You’re taking care of the environment, too.
Here’s how to make miniature greenhouses from recycled household trash.
You will need:
Plastic containers: milk, juice and soda bottles, bakery trays, take out containers, you name it. The containers need to be clear or light-colored to allow light through
A waterproof marker for labelling
A carpet knife or scissors
A drill or screwdriver
Seeds (pick winter garden vegetables and hardy, cold-weather flowers)
How to do it:
Each miniature greenhouse needs a “lid” that you can lift to get to the plants. Cut long containers – like bottles – in half. Duct tape the halves back together on just one side, and voila, you have a container with a lid.
Drill a few draining holes into the bases, and ventilation holes into the sides of the lids. You can also heat up the end of a screwdriver and use it to melt the holes.
Fill the containers with potting soil.
Plant your seeds. You can sow them closer together than you would if you were sowing in a garden bed, as they’re all still going to be transplanted later. Do still leave a few centimeters of space between each seed, though, because tangled root systems make transplanting tricky.
Water the sown seeds and close the lids.
Label the tiny greenhouses with the date and the plant type.
Move them outdoors. The ideal spot to keep your greenhouses in is sheltered from the wind, but in full sun, where rain, dew and snow can fall on them. And of course, shelving them all on a table can help to protect them from pets, or curious little fingers when your kids are enjoying some outdoor play in the snowy garden.
Your seeds will germinate at different times: whenever they’re ready. You can forget about them throughout the winter – and even if the greenhouses get covered in snow – but once the weather warms, you’ll have to water them whenever the potting soil starts to dry out. You will also need to cut a wide slit in the top of the lids to prevent overheating. If space in the little greenhouses is getting cramped, you can lift the lids entirely, but make sure to protect the seedlings with a sheet overnight if there’s any threat of frost. Seedlings are ready for transplanting into your garden beds once they’ve grown true leaves.
Don’t have enough containers for all the sowing you’d like to do? Order a batch of our cheap peat pots – they’re biodegradable, so they’re also easy on the environment! You won’t need to punch any drainage holes. Once you’ve planted them, cover them over with a double sheet of cling wrap to form a miniature greenhouse.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.