Winter Gardening Projects


How many of us have thrown away our cyclamen because we thought they were dead? Cyclamen go dormant over the summer months. Dona Andersen explained at our January 2014 meeting that we should lay the plants on their sides, put them on a tray and put them in a dark place away from light and rain until they begin to sprout in September or October. When signs of life appear, simply turn them upright, water them and place them in a window and watch them flower. You may feed them as well but Dona doesn’t and she had beautiful plants to show us. If you have any questions, feel free to call Dona.

Winter Sowing

Katje Donovan showed us the Winter Sowing process—a very simple, rewarding and fun thing to do during the deep freeze we are experiencing while we pour over all the seed and plant catalogs wishing for a glimpse of spring. This winter, Katje has planted White Swan Echinacea, Lupine, Poppy, Flax, and Foxglove and they are sitting outside on the east side of her house to receive the morning light.

Use 1 gallon clear plastic water or milk jugs. Remember… we are making a mini-greenhouse. Create a clamshell by cutting around the middle of the jug, but leave the jug handle intact.

You can either cut small “X” marks in the top and bottom of the jug, or use a screwdriver (heated on the stove) to melt drainage holes in both the top and bottom of the jug. I have been doing 4 holes on the bottom and 3 on the top.

Use about 4 cups of sterile seed starter medium (nothing from old pots or the garden). You can either use pre moistened medium, or water the jugs thoroughly and allow to drain before taking them outside.

Plant 5 seeds per jug (one in each corner and one in the middle). Add the correct amount of seed starter on top according to the planting directions. Make sure you label the jugs with your plant name and color. Use a black sharpie as the weather will fade the writing—label with popsicle sticks stuck inside the jug.

Slap a strip of duct tape on the jug horizontally to keep the clam shell closed. When spring comes (Yes, Virginia. Spring WILL eventually come) and we have some warm days, you will want to remove the duct tape to let your babies breathe in the sweet April air.   Remember to take the cap off the jug before you place it outside.

Seeds to Plant 

January/February: Digitalis purpurea (Wild Foxglove), Oenothera speciosa (Evening Primose), Cosolida (Larkspur), Aquilegia (Columbine), Adonitum (Monkshood), Delphinium grandiflorum, Nepata (more seeds)Alcea (Hollyhock), Campanula (Bellflower), Nicotiana, Platycodon (Balloon Flower), Lupinus (Lupine), Larkspur,  Spinach, Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Peas, Broccoli, Creeping Thyme, Common Sage, Oregano, and Cilantro.  

March: Impatiens wallerana, Cosmos, Zinnia, Marigold, Lettuce, Bok Choy, Beets, Carrots, Basil and Parsley.

This costs practically NOTHING to try and is a terrific way to get a head start on spring time.

Ann Pawlick