Get Going on Growing

There’s a fresh blanket of snow outside, and I couldn’t be more thrilled because it is great for us to start the 2023 growing season!

Coming soon on the calendar, folks, is a football-influenced, American non-holiday that gardeners and growers in U.S. zones 6 and lower (and by “lower” I mean geographically “norther”) are preparing to celebrate. And I hope you will, too!

The special day is: Super Sow Sunday!!!

That sounds a lot like “Super Bowl Sunday,” a day that many Americans will celebrate as a holiday of football- and commercial-watching and eating too many nachos. (Wait. Can there be a thing as “too many nachos”???)

I’m pretty sure I first learned of the Super Sow Sunday concept via an e-newsletter by Tony Gomez of monarchbutterflygarden.net and I’m pretty sure he had learned of it from someone else. The date is easy to remember, the labor is “set it and forget it” easy, and the excitement of growing is why we’re all here.

Here’s what you’ll need to participate.

  • Snow. Ideally a pile or bank that’s at least a foot tall.
  • An outside space that will be undisturbed for the next two months. This is where you want the snow to be.
  • A 1-liter or bigger plastic food container, rinsed. Juice bottle, milk jug, fizzy-drink container, even a nut or candy container if it is plastic and has a twist-off top.
  • Potting soil. Enough to fill that container halfway.
  • Duct tape.
  • Seeds that need (or don’t mind) cold stratification. This means being at temperatures below freezing and kind of wet for a while before germination and sprouting in early Spring.
Group of various plastic juice and soda bottles, filled halfway with potting soil, caps off, duct tape belting their middles.
You can have more than one bottle or container, of course. But no pressure.

What to do:

  • Carefully use a box cutter or sharp knife to slice through the bottle at its belt line, leaving about 1-2 inches still connected.
  • Carefully use a drill to make 5-10 drainage holes (depending on diameter of bottle) in the bottom of the bottle. If the plastic is not very thick, an alternate way to make the holes is to punch a screwdriver or thick carpentry nail through the bottom. Use caution, really!
  • Remove the cap and repurpose or discard it.
  • Bend the top of the bottle back like a puppet mouth and feed soil into it until the bottom half is full.
  • Sprinkle seeds of one species on top of the soil. More seeds is better than just a few.
    • Seeds to try: milkweeds; columbines; poppies; violets; pansies; coneflowers; larkspur; hyssop; hollyhocks; Dianthus; Calendula; Baptisia; Bachelor’s Buttons. *Note: If you try poppies, keep seeds away from the sides of the container. Any plants that grow on the soil edge won’t survive when time to transplant. The roots are sensitive.
  • Mist or lightly water the seeds, being careful not to flush them to the edges.
  • Wrap over the sliced line of plastic with a Duct tape belt.
  • Put on your boots, take that bottle outside, and sink it into the snow pile.
  • Back inside, take off your snowy boots, and dig into some nachos.
Bottles in snow with only the tops poking out

Let time pass. Let the cold set in. Let the snow, sleet, or rain fall into the little greenhouse you just made.

In a couple months, check that the bottle hasn’t fallen sideways nor the soil inside gone dry (add water) or become slimy (probably cannot be saved).

When the snow melts and it starts to smell like Spring in the air, you’ll hopefully see a little something like this when you peek inside 🙂

Go get growing! I’ll be sharing updates of my Super Sow Sunday greenhouses and would love to read about yours too.