Winter sowing is a technique that is used to start seeds outside during the winter. The seeds are sown in miniature greenhouses made from recycled plastic containers. In this post, I will talk about which types of containers can be used to winter sow seeds.
Learn how to winter sow seeds in this post: Winter Sowing Seeds – A Step By Step Guide
|Winter sown containers in the snow|
Choosing Containers For Winter Sowing Seeds
There are many different types of containers you could use for winter sowing. Winter sowing containers can be made out of items you throw out every day; containers like milk jugs, 2 liter bottles, restaurant/deli/bakery food containers, ice cream buckets…etc.
Choose containers for winter sowing that…
- Are made out of plastic
- Have a lid that lets light through (i.e.: the container is not completely opaque)
- Are deep enough to hold 2-3 inches of soil
- Are tall enough to accommodate the height of the seedlings as they grow (allow a few inches of headspace)
Some of my favorite types of containers for winter sowing seeds include:
- Old food storage containers (tupperware, glad/ziploc disposable containers…etc) – you can find these in the free bin at garage sales all the time!
- Ice cream buckets
- Food take out containers
- Food containers from the grocery store deli
- Containers from bakery goods
|Examples of containers for winter sowing seeds|
When it comes to choosing which containers to use for winter sowing seeds, it boils down to what you prefer and what types of containers are available to you. The types of containers I prefer to use are ones with lids that are easy to take off and put back on, like ice cream buckets and food containers. Milk jugs also work very well and are readily available.
I especially like containers that can withstand the heat of the dishwasher without melting. This makes the task of cleaning hundreds of containers much easier. I’ve noticed that if they can stand the dishwasher, they usually last longer and these are the containers I can use for more than one year.
Some containers will hold up to the elements better than others. I have had containers that start to disintegrate after only a few months of being outside. I’ve had others that hold up very well and I can use them for multiple years.
|Winter sown containers buried under snow|
One thing to note is that some “plastic” take out containers are now made out of corn, which is great for the environment….but not great for winter sowing seeds, unfortunately. (and these will disintegrate in the dishwasher)
It’s best to experiment with containers and see what you like. Sometimes you have to take what you can get, and then you’ll know what containers to choose for next year.
Making Modifications to Containers to Use for Winter Sowing Seeds
What if you have the perfect container to use for winter sowing seeds, but the container doesn’t have a lid… no problem. You can make some easy modifications to turn it into the perfect container for winter sowing seeds.
|Container without a lid|
Simply cover the container with a plastic bag and secure it at the bottom with a twist tie, then poke a few holes in the plastic to allow moisture in and to vent the container. Make sure to pull the plastic as tight as you can so it won’t blow away.
|Cover tightly with a plastic bag|
If the container that will fit into a gallon ziploc bag, you can put it in and zip it up… but make sure that you poke holes in both the top and the bottom of the bag, as well as in the bottom of the container.
What are your favorite containers to use for winter sowing seeds?