I’m Waiting Patiently…

When my oldest daughter was about two years old, she would stand, waiting for us to take her on an adventure, tap her toe, and say, “I’m waiting patiently.”  That’s how I feel about Spring these days.  Winter, such as it has been, has been mostly warmer than usual, but coldest of all the last few weeks, with several episodes of spitting snow.  Low temps the last week or so have been at or below freezing.

Several other gardeners have mentioned bulbs blooming much earlier than usual, but I think Spring for me will be only a couple of weeks early.  The snowdrops came up last week, two or three weeks earlier than usual and are holding very well, perhaps because the weather has been so cool.

Snowdrops, 14 February 2012

Daffodil Buds, 14 February 2012

The daffodils are stretching up their buds ever so slo-o-w-ly, with not a hint of color yet.  As cold as the nights are, I don’t blame them for huddling under the ground.

I have had time for an absolute flurry of seed planting.  My winter sown milk jug count is up to 53 jugs, although three are from last year and may be hopeless cases and four contain recently pricked out babies from last year.  This year for winter sowing, I focused mostly on seeds that definitely need a cold period to germinate or hardy annuals that I want to plant out as soon as I reasonably can.

Winter Sown Milk Jugs, 14 February 2012

I consciously tried to use less seed after I realized that I have NEVER looked at a pot of seedlings and thought, “Gee, I should have sown that seed more densely.”  I sprayed water sparingly rather than submerging because last years jugs stayed far wetter than needed.

I spent an hour or so yesterday pricking out the year old, half inch tall wintergreen seedlings (Gaultheria procumbens ‘Very Berry’.)  I didn’t anticipate this much success; there are between 75 and 100 seedlings spread out among four milk jug or pretzel containers.  The other tiny babies are Ramonda myconii, a hardy African violet relative.

Winter Sown Wintergreen after Transplanting, 12 February 2012

I’ll keep them in their milk jug greenhouses until they’re big enough to set out, perhaps Fall 2012, perhaps later.  I’ll also have to provide some protection for the wintergreen, since SOMEONE has devoured my current wintergreen plant for the second year in a row.

I also planted pepper seeds and tomatoes for containers to plant out in early to mid May, along with a flat of greens to plant out in early March.  Hopefully the Chief of Implementation and I can work out lights for the seedlings before they become seedlings!  Since I was making a mess anyway, I potted up Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) and Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) cuttings that have been slowly rooting for a couple of months.  Those are two of my favorite scented plants, and I’m willing to baby them through winter indoors to enjoy big happy plants each summer.  Everyone is installed on the new plant shelf assembled by the Chief of Implementation.

Plant Shelf, Dining Room, 12 February 2012

When the Nun’s Orchid finishes blooming, I’ll section and pot up the bloom stems hoping to make more babies.

May all your gardens be fruitful, and may today in particular be filled with love!




Filed under Gardening

9 responses to “I’m Waiting Patiently…

  1. First of all, what an adorable story about your daughter! Hilarious.

    I am SO jealous of all of your milk jugs! I have about 15 set out (three weeks ago) and about 5 more to do, but I need more containers. Next year I clearly need to start searching / saving them earlier.

    Amazing that you have had such a high success rate on those wintergreen seedlings! I too love pineapple sage – grew it for the first time last year and it astonished me. I cut back the plant and I’m overwintering in the basement…new growth coming out so I’m hoping to take root cuttings from those stems once they’re hardy enough. I’ll have to check out peppermint geranium – thanks for the tip!

    Looks like a great place for that plant shelf – well done, COI. 🙂


    • I’ve got the advantage of a big household that drinks a lot of milk. We go through a minimum of 2 or 3 gallons a week and I accumulate them all year. Here’s hoping I can keep the wintergreen seedlings growing long term!

      Good luck with the pineapple sage cuttings. Mine are hanging on so far (fingers crossed.)


  2. I’m fascinated, how do you make and use milkjugs? A new concept to me! Nice blog:)


    • So glad you like it!

      There’s a whole website on winter sowing, and most of my information came from there (http://www.wintersown.org/) I rinse out used milk jugs and hang them on a string without the lid to dry. I label them with a piece of duck tape written on in Sharpie, often stuck on the bottom because they seem to weather best there.

      When it’s time to plant, the Chief of Implementation cuts about four small slits in the bottom for drainage and cuts around 3 of the 4 sides, leaving the side where the label is uncut to serve as a hinge. That cut is about half way up the height of the jug. You can kind of see on the pictures on this entry.

      Then I fill the bottom half the jug with potting soil, moisten the soil and plant seeds in it. They’re taped shut with clear packing tape, and put outside in a relatively sheltered spot until spring. I check for sprouts and when they’re doing well, I start hardening the seedlings off. First I take the lid off, wait a few days, take the tape off, wait a few days, open the lid, wait a few days and then plant out. Once the lids are off, they need to be watched in case they need water. Once they’re used to open air, they can be planted out in the ground. I hope this explanation helps!


  3. A wonderfully clear explanation, thanks! And thanks also for taking the time to write so fully. Once explained it seems so obvious and so sensible that I feel foolish for not thinking of such an idea myself. May I ask what kind of winter temperatures you get near you if you are leaving the seeds in situ outdoors through the winter. I have just read on another blog about using half eggshells as individual plant cells for seedlings. Another great idea:)


    • I’m in USDA Zone 7, and temperatures are often below freezing but almost never below 10 F. Obviously, this isn’t an approach for tropical plants, but anything that reseeds or grows wild in your zone is a good candidate, and most seeds are worth a try. Cleome are tropical annuals, but respond beautifully to winter sowing.


  4. I am planning on Sweet Peas first, but absolutely love Morning Glories so might give them a go too. Good idea:)


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