Heirloom Expert: How to Start Winter Seeding

Want to get a head start on your spring gardening and help best prepare your soil to produce the best vegetables.

winter growth

Photo courtesy fotolia/AnikaSalsera

Content Tools

Dear Doug,

I overheard two master gardeners talking about winter seeding. Ever heard of it? I could use a gardening fix.

Ben from Indiana

Ben, it’s one of my favorite things to do during the winter. In my case, I’ve already prepared some beds by covering them with several inches of compost, but you could do the same thing during a thaw.

My favorite vegetables to winter sow are radishes, lettuce and spinach. Towards the end of winter I’ll throw a packet of seeds over the compost and scratch them in. The seeds will sit there until they are ready to sprout, emulating nature. They will usually germinate early in the season, providing lots of tender, sweet thinning to enjoy in the first garden salad of the season.

Doug Oster, contributing editor


Doug is the Home and Garden editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and co-host of The Organic Gardeners on KDKA radio. Doug’s book, Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, is on sale at dougoster.com