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Winter-Sown Seedlings Find their Forever Homes

Members of the Maitland Trail Association Enviro Committee gathered this week to plant native plant seedlings, which were the result of a Winter Seed Sowing Workshop led by Master Gardener Michele Melady Young back in January,

During the workshop, a group of 12 MTA members and enthusiastic volunteers prepared over 30 containers of native plants. These containers were placed outdoors to undergo the natural germination process. The seedlings, now ready for their forever homes, will be planted in woodlands along the trails, in patches cleared of buckthorn, and in home gardens.

This particular group of seedlings found their new home along the G2G Trail near the River Ridge Crescent entrance.

Winter sowing is a popular gardening technique that involves planting seeds in containers during the winter months, allowing them to naturally germinate in the cold weather. This method mimics the natural cycle of plants and results in hardy, resilient seedlings ready for transplanting in the spring. 

"Every seed that grows to full maturity makes great strides towards strengthening the pathways needed by our native pollinators," said Michele during the workshop.


The process of winter sowing begins with selecting the right containers, often repurposed milk jugs or other plastic bottles, which are then filled with soil and seeds. These containers are placed outside, exposed to the winter elements. As the temperatures fluctuate, the seeds undergo natural stratification, which breaks dormancy and encourages germination. By the time spring arrives, these seedlings are robust and well-adapted to outdoor conditions.


One of the key benefits of winter sowing is the extended growing season. Gardeners can get a head start on the planting season, often resulting in earlier blooms and harvests compared to traditional indoor seed starting. Additionally, winter-sown seedlings are typically stronger and more resilient, having endured the challenges of outdoor weather from the start.


The process is simple, cost-effective, and yields impressive results. As more people embrace this technique, the gardening community continues to grow and share their experiences, fostering a spirit of collaboration and learning.


As a Master Gardener, Michele is honored to work with these like-minded individuals, contributing to the health and biodiversity of our environment.

Gardeners interested in winter sowing are encouraged to give it a try and join Michele’s 2025 workshop.


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