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Get a head start: starting seeds indoors

Spring is a funny time of year in Canada. Some areas enjoy early warmth and see grass greening up and flowers in bloom very early. Others wait, usually impatiently, through cold temperatures and even snow until April or May. Conversations between these two groups are often spirited and filled with teasing. Who doesn’t love to talk about the weather?

If you are shivering in the cold, you may not realize there are those getting a head start on their gardens by sowing seeds for some plants inside. Yes, if you check your reference guides, starting seeds indoors can begin as early as February/March in warm areas and in April/May in cooler climates.

What a great way to start getting excited for spring and put the winter behind us!

Starting seeds indoors:

In cool areas like the prairies, now is a great time to start seeds indoors. How to know which are good choices? Look for vegetables that can tolerate transplanting, and that might benefit from a longer growing season. You can also start annual flowers from seed as well, while perennials are trickier and need a couple of seasons to establish and bloom. Try vegetables like: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, onion, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, celery, and eggplant. You could also try flowers like: nasturtium, lobelia, nicotiana, and cosmos.

Sowing seeds directly in soil:

In temperate areas like Victoria and Vancouver, it is already safe to be planting seed directly into the garden. In cooler areas such as the prairies and more northern cities, it is best to wait until early May before sowing seeds in the ground. This type of sowing is best suited to vegetables like: peas, beets, greens (spinach, lettuce, mesclun), carrots, garlic, turnips, rutabagas, kale, parsnips. These are all vegetables that can tolerate the cool soil, the cool temperatures and are often more successful sown directly in the soil than transplanted.

Supplies and equipment:

You probably have most of what you need to get started in your garden, and anything you are missing can be purchased at your local home centre. If you are just starting out, check your local site for deals. You might find someone clearing out their garage or garden shed – a great opportunity to save yourself some money. In the spring you may also find people giving away seeds they have collected, or even selling young plants they have started themselves. This can be a great way to add interesting plants to your garden. You’ll need simple garden tools, seeds, potting soil, peat moss, other amendments, peat pots or seed trays, and a sunny spot if you are starting seeds indoors.


It is easy to find information online to guide you in your gardening plans. Here are a few links to get you started, but you can search for planting information in your area, or on specific plants/seeds:

Farmer’s Almanac – Frost Chart for Canada

Planting dates for Victoria, BC

Planting dates for Calgary, AB

Planting dates for Saskatoon, SK

Planting dates for Toronto, ON

Planting dates for Charlottetown, PEI

Now go start planning how to get a little green going in your life!  It’s a great way to enjoy spring even in the very early days, and you’ll be pleased later when your garden benefits from your extra efforts.

Do you start seeds indoors? Wait until you can sow them outside?

What has given you the best results?


Useful links

Your local site

Gardening supplies



Writer, editor, recovering chocoholic. Most often found writing, drinking coffee, and chasing kids. Find her on Twitter @littlemissmocha.

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