I've always heard that January 8 is the worst day of the year; a day when people are the most depressed, coming down from the high of the holidays. It's a day when marriages fail, therapist's schedules book up and people find the thought of winter unbearable.
On January 8 even those that garden look forlornly out the window to a bleak landscape of dead grass or a frozen tableau of impenetrable snow. But did you know this is a great time for sowing seeds?
Not the fiddly way with trays and flats and tiny little pockets of soil. Winter sowing is way too easy, so easy I can't believe everyone up north isn't on to it.
In a nutshell you take used milk jugs or other similar shaped plastic containers, cut them almost in half leaving a hinge, fill halfway with moistened soil, plant your seeds, label, re-tape leaving the cap off and sit them outside in all the elements and wait for the magic. For more detailed instructions and great photos check out this wonderful website,www.wintersown.org
On the site there are all sorts of suggestions about the vast array of seeds that can be sown this way. I found that the more difficult seeds; especially perennial seeds that need pre-chilling, stratification and other complicated steps are the most rewarding for the winter sowing method.
Once you done your sowing you just stand back and let nature do the work. With minimal effort I've been able to grow large numbers of plants like Shasta Daisy, Basket of Gold, Columbines, etc for the mere price of a seed packet.
Most importantly, I can get my hands in a little potting soil and rummage through my seeds in the middle of winter. Gardening may not solve everyone's woes, however seeing the jugs out there lined up in the snow so full of promise goes a long way when the cold wind is blowing and cabin fever runs hot.