Beginner Canadian Gardener – Seed Starting Guide

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As a beginner Canadian gardener you are likely wondering whether or not its too late to start seedlings. Knowing if there is still time in the year too start your seeds is going to depend entirely on your zone & the last frost date for your region. The best way to find your zone is through a zone map made by the USDA or for Canadians agriculture and agri-foods Canada. From there you will be able to determine what time of year the frost is gone.

Beginner Canadian Gardener
Beginner Canadian Gardener

This is easy to Google. Once you have located this information you will have a better idea as to when you should start seeds or plant outdoors. The spring season for planting outside can range from March – mid June depending on your location. 

If you want to plant outdoors and winter sow?

For spring plants you are going to want to aim for anything considered a cool climate crop. These plants can survive in cooler soils and even have a baseline resistance to frost. Some easy options include:

  • Broccoli
  • Collards
  • Cabbage
  • Peas
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Radish
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Endives
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Carrots
  • Pansy
  • Calendula
  • Daisy
  • Tulips
  • Columbine. 

If you are a beginner Canadian gardener you likely don’t have special lighting setups or a greenhouse yet. Winter sowing will allow you to have the benefits of a greenhouse without the price tag. It’s effective and can give your plants 1-2 months’ head start depending on your spring conditions.

What Land Prep Needs To Be Done Before Starting

Try a no-dig garden it is less labour intensive and better for soil health in most cases. Simply add two inches of manure or compost to the surface of the soil and you are ready to go.

No dig gardens have a huge advantage in yields. This is due to the fact that the soil is able to sequester carbon rather than release it into the air. No dig gardens also help increase microbial activity in the soil such as the nitrogen cycle. This results in more bioavailable nutrients/free fertilizer for your plants. Keep in mind that you can also perform a number of at-home soil tests to maximize your results.

There are some pitfalls to consider so be sure to check out the YouTube channel discussing this topic.

Should You Start Seeds or Get Store-Bought Plants

For flowering decorative plants such as flowers, you may want to grab these from a greenhouse. The reason for this is that starting flower seeds is an intermediate gardener process. As a beginner, you may want to select from a greenhouse in order to see spring blooms.

How To Choose Flowers At A Greenhouse

When selecting plants for the spring you may want to look for ones that are smaller and not get in bloom. The plants that don’t have flowers typically will do better when transplanting. Transplant shock is an issue when you have a full plant with lots of foliage and flowers. 

Other Things To Consider As A Beginner Canadian Gardener Starting Seeds

When planting a Spring Garden there are some things packet such as what’s son needs. Some enjoy partial shade others enjoy full sun and want to plant their plants in areas. This one sure has the greatest success, typically if you plant a hole sunflower in a partial shade area you will have fewer blooms. 

Watch out for your forecast for those first few weeks once everything is outdoors. With changing climate and unsuspecting weather systems at an all-time high, it is important that we watch our forecast. Watch out for warnings such as frost, snow or hail. 

What Happens If You Start Seeds Indoors To Early?

You are likely going to have leggy overgrown plants that may suffer from transplant shock.

To reduce this you will want to take your time with the hardening off process. To prevent leggy plants you can invest if good lighting setups which will allow you to grow plants that are nearly full grown.

When To Start Seeds Indoors: Ontario & Canada

For a majority of garden plants grown in Ontario, you will want to start your seeds indoors around march.

This would include things like:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers – Super hots should be started in February
  • Leeks & Scallions
  • Corn – with over 90 days to harvest labels
  • Zinnias, petunias, allysum
  • Sunflowers
  • Vining plants such as cucumbers, squash, beans and luffas can be started in a decomposable pot.
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplants

How To Get Seeds Started Later To Catch Up?

Ensure the seeds are getting adequate water, light and fertilizer. Fertilizing seedlings will be the best way to maximize the growth of your seedlings. When choosing between granular and liquid fertilizer you will want to aim for liquid.

If you see a weather system warning for your area the simple fix to this is simply taking a bedsheet and tossing it over top of your flowers. This is enough protection from a low-lying frost. You may choose to use bamboo stakes to lift that blanket up off the plants. But if it’s lightly put in place you should be just fine. 

Beginner Canadian Gardener
Beginner Canadian Gardener

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