Winter Sowing Workshop with Vinaya Frank

| Education, Workshops

by Marian Marbury ✎

USDA Definition: Winter sowing is a propagation method used throughout the winter, where temperate climate seeds are sown into vented containers and placed outdoors to foster naturally timed, high percentage germination of climate-tolerant seedlings.

On a cold and rainy Saturday morning, 38 hearty native plant enthusiasts found their way to Valley View Farms for a 2 hour workshop on Winter Sowing. Presented by Vinaya (Vini) Frank the workshop was pitched to both complete beginners as well as experienced Winter Sowers looking to pick up some new tips and tricks and share their own experience. Vini did an outstanding job of presenting all the basics in a clear way while encouraging questions and information sharing. Following her presentation everyone was given the tools they needed, from gallon milk jugs to seeds, to make their own container. This provided an opportunity for more questions to emerge as we put theory to practice. As a bonus we all went home with containers ready to be placed in a sunny area until the newly emerging plants can be transplanted in our gardens.

Vini started the workshop with saying that the most important rule is that there are no rules, that what works for one person may not work for another and that an approach of constant observation, experimentation, and talking with others is the way to find out what works for your garden. Having said that, she then quickly amended her statement to say that there are actually three (but only three) rules:

  1. You can winter sow anything (flowers, bushes, trees) except tropicals. Because
  2. You can start winter sowing at the solstice and do it until March. Depending on
  3. Containers should always be placed in a sunny south facing spot that will allow

This was just the beginning of an information and anecdote-packed presentation. The complete presentation can be downloaded here. So if you can download the presentation (or watch YouTube videos, read Facebook posts etc), why bother to take 2 hours of precious time to come to a workshop? Everyone probably has their own answers, but for me it was the chance to receive comprehensive information in an interesting format; to ask questions (like where can you get lots of gallon milk jugs; answer – Starbucks); to hear the experience of others; to actually get hands-on experience with creating a container; and to meet other native plant enthusiasts with a wide range of experience.

Vini told us that she had gotten into winter sowing because she was lazy and she found this the easiest way to grow from seed. A little later she informed us that she had created 200 containers this year. Obviously some people don’t understand the concept of laziness! ❀

PHOTOS: Anne Gneo and Nan Wray | Thank you to Valley View Farms for providing workshop space and assistance, and to our board and volunteers and members for making this workshop possible!