Updated: Mar 29, 2021
Who is planning a vegetable garden? I am definitely not an expert, but we have been growing our own food gardens in Ontario Canada from seeds for over three years now, and I have been compiling tips and tricks that have worked for me over the years, so I thought that I would share them all here. I would love to hear your tips and tactics too, so please feel free to share in the comments section below!
A few things to consider when planting seeds (These can vary based on where you are located - I am sharing my experience from Simcoe County, Ontario Canada):
Seed Starter Pots:
There are so many cool and biodegradable, eco-friendly and recycled seed starter containers, and we have tried many of them over the years, but have found that simple egg cartons, unbleached toilet paper rolls and paper based seedling pots work the best for us.
Soil: We attempt to use an organic potting mix that contains a mixture that contains sphagnum peat moss, perlite and vermiculite when we can find it. Soil temperature is also important. While most seeds require a minimum 35-60 degree soil, ideally the soil should be 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit during the germination period, which is why many seeds need to be started indoors, given the cool temperatures outside in the early spring months. Additionally you will want to make sure the soil is moist, but be careful not to over-water (all soil moisture levels should be between 41% - 80%).
Seeds: The last few years we have ordered from a few Ontario based seed companies (it's helpful to order local, especially if you are looking for native species), but our favourite is Richters. They are family run, have been around forever and offer so many seed and plant options for herbs, fruits and vegetables and flowers too. They offer many amazing resources as well as free seminars. I still order their free catalogue every year (it feels like Christmas when it arrives haha), but you can order online, over the phone and even in person (although you might want to check out their website for current protocols). Be sure to plant 2-3 seeds per container. You may have to thin the seedlings as they grow, so that they don't overcrowd one another.
Be sure to plan your seed planting dates according to your zone/geography, which is also typically around the last frost date. The Old Farmer's Almanac has an amazing planting calendar which can be found here. You will also want to note how deep you should be planting your seeds. This can be found on the seed packages, but I have also created a fulsome planner that includes when to plant indoors, when to plant or transplant outdoors, how deep seeds should be planted, and then how far a part each plant should be planted in the garden. And don't forget to label them! Simple popsicle sticks work well, but stay tuned for a cute diy plant marker coming soon.
Light: Keep in mind that seeds require 12-16 hours of light per day to grow health and strong. While we have always had windows to put our seeds in front of for at least 12 hours there are artificial light alternatives that many growers recommend, like fluorescent lights. Light does vary based on seed type.
Download the FREE SEED/PLANT PLANNER
-Before transplanting seedlings directly into the garden, we have found it helpful to "harden" the seedlings by bringing them outdoors for a few hours one, day then a few more hours the next, in order to help them acclimatize to the outdoor elements.
-Also, depending how well your seedlings are growing, it may be necessary to transplant them to bigger containers before planting them in your garden.
Happy Gardening to my green, and not so green thumbed friends!!!