08. January 2019

Winter sowing in pots

It's cold up here in zone 3, but I wanted to do a winter sowing of broccoli that I can harvest early in spring. I decided to do a sowing in pots in my polytunnel. This is how to do it!

Krukor som står staplade på varandra. Sowing in pots, the pots I'm using.

I put bokashi, old plant parts and soil in my pots during fall and winter.

Fertilize with bokashi

I have been winter sowing vegetables in pots on a smaller scale the past few years. It's been working really well lately, after some experimenting. I decided to start the winter season with a larger surface in the polytunnel this time, and more pots than last year. It's finally time to start winter sowing! On frozen ground, in larger pots in my polytunnel.

I filled all of my pots with bokashi compost and topped it off with a layer of soil. Watch the video below to see how it's done:

 

The pros of using pots

I decided to go for large pots since I plan on using them for tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and chili later. I will use large pots with extra room for plenty of compost and soil.

I do many of my sowings in plastic troughs, which I leave in the polytunnel while I wait for the seeds to germinate. I will usually need to re-plant the vegetables I sow in smaller troughs, for example at the end of March or beginning of April. But I don't need to re-plant them if I sow my seeds in a larger container with plenty of nutritious soil from the start. Then, I can leave the plants there until they are large enough to go outside.

 

Learn more about sowing in plastic containers here

 

This is a great way to do winter sowings! I don't have to leave my pots empty over winter. The compost gets watered, it decomposes and turns into nutritious soil I can use for the vegetables I'm planning on planting there later.

 

Krukan sedd ovanifrån. Winter sowing in pots, pot seen from above.

I make four separate sections in my pot, one section per variety. The soil is completely frozen.

 

 

En hand med fin jord. Winter sowing in pots, a hand holding soil.

The soil I'm covering my seeds with is lovely! It's made from potted bokashi compost, the same way I filled up the pots I'm growing in now. I keep them in bags under blankets in my polytunnel to protect them against the frost.

Sowing the seeds

I decided to sow four different broccoli varieties in this pot. The pot is quite large so I decided to section it off with two sticks. Every section contains about 6-8 seeds.

It's really cold right now and the soil is completely frozen and hard. I simply put my seeds on top of the soil and covered them with my composted soil. The vegetables look very similar when they start to grow so I decided to put some labels on them. I do this every year with the hope of getting better at labeling all of the vegetables in my garden. If my youngest child were to decide, the labels would be all over the place though. This does happen a lot. I hope that I will at least remember that I'm growing broccoli in this pot. If all else fails, I have the blog to remind me what I decided to go for with my winter sowing in pots!

 

Kruka med jord, uppdelad i tortbitar. Winter sowing in pots, a pot filled with soil, with sections.

I put some soil on top of my seeds and then that's it! Winter sowing in pots is easy.

 

En plantetikett nerstucken i en kruka.

Don't forget to label your sowing, if you want to keep track of your plants. I think it works quite well without labels too though...

The waiting game

All I can do now is wait. I will put some ice or snow on top of the soil soon and I estimate that the seeds will germinate in February/March. The winter sown seeds produce nice and hardy plants you can start harvesting early. I have had really great results growing broccoli for an early harvest in my polytunnel. I harvested delicious Matsuri broccoli last year. I also recommend Apollo, purple sprouting broccoli Summer purple and Veronica.

This is my best tip for anyone who has a few pots just standing around. Winter sowing in pots really works!
/Sara Bäckmo

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