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In the Garden: Starting Perennial Seeds

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Even though the temperatures are cooling, you can still do some gardening. OSU Master Gardener Jane Moyer joins us In the Garden to talk about perennial seeds.

The method featured below works for starting perennial and hardy annual seeds in the fall for spring planting. It can also be used in the early spring for starting tender annual seeds. There is no need for light-systems, heating devices, or any equipment.

Preparing the jugs:

1. Throw the cap away.
2. About 3″ from the bottom, cut around the jug, leaving a hinge on one side.
3. Punch drainage holes in the bottom and a few air holes around the top.
4. Fill with planting soil (It’s important to use a mix that is light and fluffy to provide good drainage. Don’t use seed starting mix, because the plants will need the nutrients found in a planting mix).
5. Moisten the soil and let it drain well.
6. Sow the seeds as directed on the seed packet.
7. Close the jug and tape the cut with clear packing tape.
8. Label the jug.
9. Place where sun, rain, and snow will be freely admitted.
10. Place the jugs where they won’t be tipped over (little wind, pets, foot traffic). Grouping in a plastic box with holes punched in the bottom for drainage helps protect them from tipping.

As the weather chills and warms, the seeds will freeze and thaw. These natural actions loosen the seed-coatings. This is why advance soaking or nicking of hard-shelled seeds, such as Morning Glories and Sweet Peas, is not necessary when you winter-sow. As seedlings emerge, check for water, open the jugs on sunny days, close at night.

The OSU Master Gardeners Hotlines:

Jackson County: 541-776-7371
Josephine County: 541-476-6613
Klamath County: 541-883-7131
Curry County: 541-247-6672