December 2008
In This Issue
Winter Garden Tasks
Wonders of Winter Sowing
Quick Links

On the 22nd of December at 1.08 EST the Earth hesitates and begins its long slow return towards the light. Throughout history, human beings have celebrated this turning point, the solstice, with lights and ceRoland in the gardenlebrations. In these troubled and uncertain times, we put aside darkness and fill ourselves with light.  We remember with gratitude the generosity of life, family and friends.

This winter has been mild in Colorado with little frost or snow.  The soil and plants in my greenhouses are snug beneath a foot or more of leaves and the barrels of water (thermal mass) are still unfrozen.

Carrots, parsnips, celeriac, beets and turnips are extra sweet when pulled straight from the soil.  Collards, kale and salad greens are a little stressed but doing fine.  Last week I succumbed and bought organic spinach and sprouts from the store.  No one in the family would eat them – they had no taste.  If we want nutritious and tasty vegetables in the winter, we have no choice but to grow them ourselves.

Which reminds me: after the solstice is the time to experiment with winter sowing.  I hope this months article will bolster your enthusiasm and confidence to give it a try.

This year we chose not to offer much in the way of special offers before the holidays.  All our prices will rise from the beginning of the year but we will be holding a SALE during January.  Look for discounts on the Bountea Brew Kits and other products.
Tell your friends and neighbors it is the time to get set up for the forthcoming season.  Check out the coupon below to save an extra 15% during January.

Have a wonderfully joyful and tranquil holiday.


Roland Evans
Organic Bountea

Save 15%For our dedicated customers, a further 15% discount on all orders over $50 in January.  Just put in the coupon code - Save09 – when you checkout.
Offer Expires: January 31st 2009

Winter Garden Tasks

The garden is resting but there is always some garden tasks to complete!  Now is the time to look through the seed catalogs and decide on what you want to order for next season.  You might try some of the seeds for winter sowing which is described below, so buy some extra.  Seed prices have risen but they are still great value.


Bountea Compost Tea:
  If you are growing indoors or with hydroponics, you can keep applying the Bountea Compost Teaon a 3 week or monthly schedule.  


Wonders of Winter Sowing

After winter solstice is the time to get out those seeds and start planting.  Yep, you heard me right, its time to sow seeds.  Practically every variety of flower, herb and vegetable can be cold sown.  It is particularly useful for those perennial and annual flowers that you buy in the garden center around Mother’s Day.  With a little effort and less expense, you can have as many bedding plants as you ever wanted.  It even works for tomatoes and cucumbers.

Cold sowing is simple.  You plant seeds in a container with a transparent cover and leave it outdoors.  As the weather warms up, the seeds germinate and your seedlings are ready to transplant into bigger pots or straight into the garden.  That’s it!  Well… not quite.  Like any growing technique, there are a few things you need to know to ensure success.

First find your containers.  The essential elements are depth and a transparent or translucent top.  You need a minimum of 3″ of soil in the pot for strong root growth and adequate light for the leaves to stay green and strong.

Gallon jugs for milk or water are very popular.  Cut them almost in half near the handle, leaving a ‘hinge’ of plastic.  After sowing, the parts can be taped shut with masking or duct tape or connected with a twist tie.  P
op bottles can also be cut in half, with three wedge-shaped slits in the top half so it slips over the 
bottom.  I have lots of gallon plant pots, so I simply put a thick plastic bag over the top, held in place with a large rubber band.

Drainage and Air
Whatever container you use, make sure there are drainage and air holes.  Stick a knife three times through the bottom of any solid container.  Plant pots already have large holes.  I place pebbles over these to restrict water loss.  Transparent covers need to let in a certain amount of air without allowing the soil to dry out.  Unscrew the cap on jugs or bottles; pierce a few holes in plastic bags.

Soil and Seeds
The seedlings grow in the pot until they are somewhat mature with true leaves, so soilless mixes may not provide enough nutrition and mass for the roots.  I make my own traditional seed mix: 1 part sand, 2 parts Humisoil or compost, 4 parts peatmoss (or sustainable alternative) — all sifted through a ¼” mesh.  You can also use garden soil mixed with a little peatmoss if your soil is rich and fertile.

The soil should be at least 3″ deep and well moistened.  Place the container in a bucket of water so it gets watered from the bottom.  Seeds are planted in the normal way at a depth of about 2 times the smallest dimension of the seed.  Sow any variety you think might grow and be sure to label every container.  Plant moderately thickly – expect a survival rate of 75% or less.

Location and Care
The main threat to your plants will not be cold but overheating and drying out.  Do not put the containers in full sun; the North side of a shed works well.  It is fine if they get covered with snow but they do not want to sit in a puddle of water.  If you have harsh winters, surround the containers with mulch such as leaves or straw or dig them a little into the ground.  This helps modulate fluctuations in temperature.

Make sure the soil stays somewhat moist; check every week or so and add water as needed. When the seedlings are up, protect from frost with row covers and blankets and start feeding with compost tea and dilute nutrients.  If you have the option, move the seedlings into your greenhouse in March to enjoy early flowers and vegetables.

Now is the time to throw off your gardening doldrums.  Pull out all those seed packets, rummage through the recycle bin and take a chance.  With a little ingenuity, you will be flooded with so many spring plants you can supply all your friends.  What have you got to lose?


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