While meandering through Blotanical garden blogs yesterday, I somehow found my way to Wintersown.org (sorry, I don't recall who to credit for this link!) where I read about an idea so crazy I just had to try it: Planting seeds NOW, in winter, using zip-lock bags as mini-greenhouses and putting them outside until spring. I immediately selected some perennial seeds (suitable for zone 4) to try. Today I picked up a box of quart-sized zip-lock bags and some potting soil and I was ready to garden.
I wasn't sure whether to use potting soil or seed starting mix, so I made a blend with 1/3 seed starter. As explained in the instructions, I cut 3 drainage holes in the bottoms of the bags and filled each a third of the way with soil.
After watering each bag, I set it on the drainboard to drain (don't tell Rog I did all this gardening in the kitchen sink!) Then, I sprinkled seeds on the surface and patted them in a bit. Each bag is labelled with the variety, plant height, sun preferences. I planted: gaillardia, blue flax, columbine, false blue indigo, hollyhock, Icelandic poppy and monarda. I also took a sample of the wildflower seeds I have been cold-moist stratifying since January 25th (bloodroot, Virginia bluebells, bittersweet, and liatris) out of the refrigerator and planted them.
Each bag is zippped up to a clothespin, clipped on the top to keep a small ventilation opening. I packed all the bags into a plastic bin and set them out on the patio next to the house. Now comes the hard part--waiting to see if they sprout!
Total cost: $13.63 ($10.63 for 7 seeds packets on sale, $2 for zip lock bags, approx $1 for soil)
Total zip lock bags planted: 24