This year I picked up some store-bought tomatoes and peppers. Perhaps that was a mistake. The store bought plants tower over the tiny winter sown plants. They don't seem to be growing very quickly, and I question what I've done differently this year that is slowing them down. At this time last year I had tomatoes (still green) on the plants, zucchini ready to pick, and the first bean harvest. This year the tomato plants are barely 4-6 inches tall, the pepper plants aren't even to 4 inches, and while one zucchini plant spit out a flower or two, it's produced no fruit at all. My watermelon plants are hardly more than seedlings, despite growing them in three different gardens. What am I doing differently? I used more fertilizer (rabbit poop) this year. Beyond that, I've done nothing different. I've heard that too much fertilizer produces a lot of green foliage, but no fruit... but my plants are barely even growing! I'm hoping they catch up quick.
That said, in no way do I want to detract from winter sowing or discourage people from doing it. Last year I had amazing abundant success with my tomatoes and my squashes. I will be winter sowing again, regardless of how this harvest turns out. I guess I was hoping that every year would be as phenomenal as last year. Maybe it was beginners luck, maybe it was something else, but I don't think it had anything to do with winter sowing. The seeds were a little late coming up, but the tomato seedlings were just fine when transplanted (though the peppers didn't even have true leaves when I transplanted them).