Plastic milk jugs make great greenhouses for winter growing

By Regina Verow

Winter-sowing is a great way for antsy gardeners to get their hands in the dirt and their gardens started during these dreary cold months. With just a plastic milk jug, some dirt and seeds, this process allows gardeners to start planting as early as December.

This process creates strong, healthy plants without fancy equipment or creating extra space in the house. Plus it's an economical way to get your garden off to a great start. Here's how it works:

Make The Greenhouse

Any plastic recyclable container will work but gallon milk and water jugs are the easiest to work with. Using a box cutter, cut halfway up the jug and slice a line almost completely around the container, leaving an inch in the back uncut, as a hinge. Using a screwdriver, punch holes in the bottom for drainage. Also punch a few holes in the top section for ventilation and remove the cap. This will allow any excess heat to escape and moisture to enter the greenhouse.

Add The Soil

Any high-quality seed starting mix will work as a well-draining medium. Add about three inches of soil to the bottom of the container and water thoroughly.

Sowing The Seeds

Check your seed package for the proper depth to plant each type of seeds. A pencil makes nice holes and you can plant seeds fairly close together since you'll be transplanting them later. Cover the seed holes with soil and gently pat the soil down. Using a sharpie, write the name of the seeds on a piece of duct tape and add to the inside of the jug since weather can fade or wash it off on the outside. Then close the jug and secure with a piece of duct or packing tape.

Let Mother Nature Handle The Rest

The seeds will be completely safe from the weather in their greenhouses, even in snow! As the weather warms, the seedlings will sprout. Keep the lids closed except on warm, sunny days, where you can open the containers and let the seedlings enjoy the fresh air. Replace the lids at dusk. If it hasn't rained, check the soil daily to make sure the seedlings stay well watered. Follow the instructions on your seed packets for the best time to plant your seedlings in the ground. In no time at all, you'll be back to working in a thriving, beautiful garden.

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