Cold winter months can be a great time to sow seeds, and learning the appropriate methods are a necessity. During the winter, you can start seeds for eventual transplant into your outdoor garden, or grow plants to keep inside on a sunny windowsill or beneath plant lighting for the duration of their lives. Methods for winter sowing depend on the type of plants you want to grow, and their eventual destination.
Start warm-weather crops such as tomatoes and peppers from seed indoors on a snowy day. Plant the seeds several weeks before the date of the last expected frost in your area, following the instructions on the seed packet. Install fluorescent shop lights that hang from hooks on chains over your seedlings so that you can adjust their height as the seedlings grow, keeping them within several inches of the tops of the plants at all times. Put automatic timers on the lights to ensure that plants get 16 hours of light every day. Heating pads beneath trays of seedlings can encourage germination. Harden off seedlings with several sets of leaves before transplanting them into the garden by placing them in a sheltered outdoor location for several hours each day, increasing the time they spend outside incrementally over two weeks. This process helps seedlings adjust to the shock of outdoor conditions. Transplant vegetables into the garden when the weather is warm enough to support their full development--late spring or early summer is right for tomatoes; early spring is right for leeks. Check your seedling packet for suggested planting times.
You can grow some herbs and vegetables from seed successfully during winter months to enjoy on a sunny windowsill. Plant them in soil-free seedling mix, and then transplant them into soil and decorative pots when they have several sets of mature leaves. Try mixes of basil, parsley and lettuce in various colors and textures for a supply of colorful fresh produce that keeps your winter blues at bay.