From Seed to Harvest: A Step-by-Step Planting Guide for Beginners



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From Seed to Harvest: A Step-by-Step Planting Guide for Beginners

Embarking on your gardening journey can be both exciting and daunting. This comprehensive guide will provide step-by-step instructions on planting seeds, nurturing seedlings, and harvesting your plants. Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to a bountiful harvest.

Selecting the Right Seeds

Before you start, choosing the right seeds for your garden is essential. Consider the following factors when making your selection:

  1. Climate and Growing Season: Choose plants that suit your region’s climate and have a growing season that fits your needs.
  2. Sunlight Requirements: Ensure your garden receives enough sunlight for your chosen plants.
  3. Soil Preferences: Select plants that can thrive in your garden’s soil type.
  4. Pest and Disease Resistance: Look for varieties resistant to common pests and diseases in your area.
  5. Harvest Preferences: Consider the produce you want to harvest and choose varieties that align with your preferences.


VegetableDifficulty to Grow (1-5)Days to HarvestNotes
Lettuce130-60Quick growing, tolerates cool temperatures and requires minimal space.
Radishes120-30Rapid growth, easy to grow in containers or small spaces, and can be grown in multiple seasons.
Green Beans250-65Require a trellis or support system for climbing varieties, but otherwise easy to grow and maintain.
Bush Beans250-55Compact growth habit, suitable for small spaces, and easy to maintain.
Tomatoes360-100Require consistent care, staking or caging, and monitoring for pests and diseases.
Bell Peppers360-90Prefer warm temperatures and well-draining soil, and require staking or support to prevent branch damage.
Carrots350-80Require deep, loose, and well-draining soil for proper root growth.
Zucchini245-55Fast-growing, but require ample space and consistent monitoring for pests, such as squash vine borers.
Cucumbers350-70Prefer warm temperatures, and require trellising or support for climbing varieties.
Eggplant4100-120Require warm temperatures and consistent care, and may be susceptible to pests and diseases.
Kale250-70Cold-tolerant and hardy, but may attract pests, such as cabbage worms.
Spaghetti Squash390-100Requires ample space and consistent monitoring for pests, such as squash vine borers.
Burgess Buttercup Squash395-110Requires ample space and consistent monitoring for pests, such as squash vine borers.

Difficulty to Grow Scale:

  1. Very easy – perfect for beginners
  2. Easy – minimal care required
  3. Moderate – requires some experience or more attentive care
  4. Challenging – best for experienced gardeners or those seeking a challenge
  5. Very challenging – requires advanced gardening skills and dedication

Please note that the difficulty levels and days to harvest are approximate and may vary depending on the specific variety, growing conditions, and individual gardening experience.

View what seeds we have and additional information on our Seeds Page!

Preparing the Soil

A well-prepared soil is the foundation of a successful garden. Follow these steps to prepare your soil for planting:

  1. Test the Soil: Conduct a soil test to determine the pH, nutrient levels, and organic matter content. Amend the soil accordingly to create the optimal growing environment for your chosen plants.
  2. Clear Debris: Remove any weeds, rocks, and other debris from the planting area.
  3. Loosen the Soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to break up compacted soil and improve aeration and drainage.
  4. Add Organic Matter: Mix in compost or other organic matter to improve soil fertility and structure.
  5. Level the Ground: Rake the soil to create a level planting surface.

Sowing Seeds

Follow these steps to sow your seeds and ensure optimal germination:

  1. Check Seed Packet Instructions: Refer to the seed packet for specific planting instructions, such as depth, spacing, and recommended planting dates.
  2. Prepare Seed Trays or Beds: For seeds that require indoor germination, fill seed trays with a high-quality seed-starting mix. For direct outdoor sowing, create shallow furrows in your prepared soil.
  3. Sow Seeds: Place seeds in the seed trays or furrows at the recommended depth and spacing. Cover the seeds lightly with soil or seed-starting mix.
  4. Label and Water: Label your seeds with the plant variety and planting date. Water the seeds gently to ensure good soil contact and moisture.

Caring for Seedlings

Once your seeds have germinated, proper care is essential for healthy growth. Follow these tips to care for your seedlings:

  1. Provide Adequate Light: Ensure your seedlings receive at least 12-16 hours of light daily. Supplement with grow lights if necessary.
  2. Maintain Proper Temperature: Keep indoor seedlings at a consistent temperature of 65-75°F (18-24°C). Use heating mats or move seedlings to a warmer area if needed. 
  3. Water Consistently: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Use a gentle spray or misting bottle to water seedlings without disturbing them.
  4. Fertilize Seedlings: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half strength once seedlings develop their first true leaves. Continue fertilizing every two weeks.
  5. Thin Seedlings: If seedlings are overcrowded, thin them out by removing the weakest plants to promote healthy growth and airflow.


Once your seedlings are strong enough, it’s time to transplant them into the garden or larger pots. Follow these steps for successful transplanting:

  1. Harden Off Seedlings: Gradually acclimate indoor seedlings to outdoor conditions by placing them outside for a few hours each day, increasing the duration over one to two weeks.
  2. Prepare the Planting Area: Dig planting holes in your prepared soil, spaced according to the requirements of your chosen plants.
  3. Transplant Seedlings: Carefully remove the seedlings from their trays or pots, ensuring not to damage the roots. Place the seedlings in the planting holes and gently fill the holes with soil, firming it around the roots.
  4. Water Thoroughly: Water the transplanted seedlings immediately to help them settle in and establish a robust root system.

Maintenance and Harvesting

With your plants in the ground, follow these steps to maintain your garden and enjoy a bountiful harvest:

  1. Water Regularly: Water your plants deeply and consistently, especially during dry periods. Monitor soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule as needed.
  2. Fertilize as Needed: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to your garden according to the specific needs of your plants. Follow package instructions for proper application rates.
  3. Weed and Mulch: Keep the area around your plants weed-free to reduce competition for nutrients and water. Apply a layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  4. Monitor for Pests and Diseases: Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests or diseases. Implement integrated pest management techniques and treat any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  5. Prune and Stake: Prune your plants as needed to promote healthy growth and air circulation. Provide stakes or other supports for tall or climbing plants.
  6. Harvest Responsibly: Harvest your produce optimally for the best flavour and nutritional value. Regular harvesting can also encourage continuous production in some plants.


Planting Guide for Northwest Ontario

Seeds and planting
Links and Resources

Recommended Products
(These are some of what I use)

These nursery bags
These Grow bags

Pages Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)

DIY Garden Irrigation System: A Detailed Guide for Northwest Ontario

Blog Posts

When to start planting seeds
Germination testing your seeds
Looking for sources for seeds?
Heirloom seeds
Chitting your way to more potatoes
So it's before the first frost; what can I plant?


Individual seed and plant information is available in the  "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.






Plant NameDifficulty (1-5)When to Start IndoorsTransplant DateDays to Maturity
Pollock Tomatoes3April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2175-85
Candyland Cherry Tomatoes2April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2165-75
Banana Peppers2April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2165-75
Bell Peppers2April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2160-80
Baby Girl Tomatoes2April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2160-70
Early Latah Tomatoes2April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2155-65
Amish Paste Tomatoes3April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2175-85
Scotia Tomatoes2April 5 – April 19June 7 – June 2155-65
Giant Pumpkin3April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 28100-120
Green Hubbard Squash3April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 28100-120
Table Queen Squash (Acorn Squash)2April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2870-80
Burgess Buttercup Squash3April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2885-100
Trombocino Squash2April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2860-80
Spaghetti Squash2April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2885-95
Sunstripe Zucchini1April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2845-55
Sugar Pumpkin2April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2890-100
Black Beauty Zucchini1April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2845-55
Little Gem Squash2April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2865-75
Mashed Potato Squash3April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2880-90
Baked Potato Squash3April 12 – April 26June 14 – June 2880-90
Broccoli3March 15 – March 29June 7 – June 2165-75
Brussels Sprouts3March 15 – March 29June 7 – June 2185-100
Plant NameDifficulty (1-5)Cold HardyDates to Direct SowDays to Maturity
Patio Snacker Cucumbers1NoJune 7 – June 2145-55
Str8 Cucumbers1NoJune 7 – June 2155-65
Giant Sunflower American2NoJune 7 – June 2170-100
Swiss Chard Red1YesJune 7 – June 2155-60
Swiss Chard Rainbow1YesJune 7 – June 2155-60
Swiss Chard Green1YesJune 7 – June 2155-60
Kohlrabi Kosack2YesApril 26 – May 1050-60
Kohlrabi White Vienna2YesApril 26 – May 1050-60
Corn Peaches n Cream3NoJune 7 – June 2170-85
Corn Montauk3NoJune 7 – June 2175-90
Super Sugar Snap Peas1YesApril 12 – May 2460-70
Beet Greens1YesApril 12 – May 2440-50
Taunus Beets2YesApril 12 – May 2450-60
Frilly Kale2YesApril 12 – May 2450-60
Kale Red Russian2YesApril 12 – May 2450-60
Rutabaga3YesApril 12 – May 2490-100
Turnip2YesApril 12 – May 2445-60
Nantes Carrots2YesApril 12 – May 2465-75
Yellow Bush Beans Gold Rush1NoJune 7 – June 2150-60
Yellow Bush Beans Gold Rush1NoJune 7 – June 2150-60
Green Bush Beans Provider1NoJune 7 – June 2150-60
Green Bush Beans Lewis1NoJune 7 – June 2150-60
Radish1YesApril 12 – May 2425-40
Chinese Cabbage2YesApril 12 – May 2465-75
Pak Choi2YesApril 12 – May 2445-60
Scallions1YesApril 12 – May 2460-70
Thyme2YesJune 7 – June 2175-85
Oregano2YesJune 7 – June 2175-85
Dill1NoJune 7 – June 2140-50
Rosemary3YesJune 7 – June 2175-85
Parsley2YesJune 7 – June 2170-80
  1. Easy: These plants are generally simple to grow, require minimal care, and are less susceptible to pests and diseases. They are suitable for beginners or gardeners looking for low-maintenance plants.
  2. Moderate: These plants may have some specific requirements in terms of soil, water, or temperature, but are generally manageable for most gardeners. They may be slightly more susceptible to pests or diseases than easy plants, but are still relatively low-maintenance.
  3. Challenging: These plants have more specific growing requirements, are more sensitive to environmental factors, and may require more attention to prevent pests and diseases. Gardeners with some experience or those looking for a challenge may enjoy growing these plants.
  4. Difficult: These plants have very specific growing requirements, are highly susceptible to pests and diseases, and require a significant amount of care and attention to thrive. Only experienced gardeners or those willing to put in considerable effort should attempt to grow these plants.
  5. Expert: These plants are extremely challenging to grow and require expert knowledge and care. They have very specific environmental needs and are highly susceptible to pests and diseases. These plants are best suited for professional growers or highly experienced and dedicated home gardeners.

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