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:
- Climate and Growing Season: Choose plants that suit your region’s climate and have a growing season that fits your needs.
- Sunlight Requirements: Ensure your garden receives enough sunlight for your chosen plants.
- Soil Preferences: Select plants that can thrive in your garden’s soil type.
- Pest and Disease Resistance: Look for varieties resistant to common pests and diseases in your area.
- Harvest Preferences: Consider the produce you want to harvest and choose varieties that align with your preferences.
|Vegetable||Difficulty to Grow (1-5)||Days to Harvest||Notes|
|Lettuce||1||30-60||Quick growing, tolerates cool temperatures and requires minimal space.|
|Radishes||1||20-30||Rapid growth, easy to grow in containers or small spaces, and can be grown in multiple seasons.|
|Green Beans||2||50-65||Require a trellis or support system for climbing varieties, but otherwise easy to grow and maintain.|
|Bush Beans||2||50-55||Compact growth habit, suitable for small spaces, and easy to maintain.|
|Tomatoes||3||60-100||Require consistent care, staking or caging, and monitoring for pests and diseases.|
|Bell Peppers||3||60-90||Prefer warm temperatures and well-draining soil, and require staking or support to prevent branch damage.|
|Carrots||3||50-80||Require deep, loose, and well-draining soil for proper root growth.|
|Zucchini||2||45-55||Fast-growing, but require ample space and consistent monitoring for pests, such as squash vine borers.|
|Cucumbers||3||50-70||Prefer warm temperatures, and require trellising or support for climbing varieties.|
|Eggplant||4||100-120||Require warm temperatures and consistent care, and may be susceptible to pests and diseases.|
|Kale||2||50-70||Cold-tolerant and hardy, but may attract pests, such as cabbage worms.|
|Spaghetti Squash||3||90-100||Requires ample space and consistent monitoring for pests, such as squash vine borers.|
|Burgess Buttercup Squash||3||95-110||Requires ample space and consistent monitoring for pests, such as squash vine borers.|
Difficulty to Grow Scale:
- Very easy – perfect for beginners
- Easy – minimal care required
- Moderate – requires some experience or more attentive care
- Challenging – best for experienced gardeners or those seeking a challenge
- 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.
Preparing the Soil
A well-prepared soil is the foundation of a successful garden. Follow these steps to prepare your soil for planting:
- 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.
- Clear Debris: Remove any weeds, rocks, and other debris from the planting area.
- Loosen the Soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to break up compacted soil and improve aeration and drainage.
- Add Organic Matter: Mix in compost or other organic matter to improve soil fertility and structure.
- Level the Ground: Rake the soil to create a level planting surface.
Follow these steps to sow your seeds and ensure optimal germination:
- Check Seed Packet Instructions: Refer to the seed packet for specific planting instructions, such as depth, spacing, and recommended planting dates.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Provide Adequate Light: Ensure your seedlings receive at least 12-16 hours of light daily. Supplement with grow lights if necessary.
- 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.
- Water Consistently: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Use a gentle spray or misting bottle to water seedlings without disturbing them.
- Fertilize Seedlings: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half strength once seedlings develop their first true leaves. Continue fertilizing every two weeks.
- 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:
- 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.
- Prepare the Planting Area: Dig planting holes in your prepared soil, spaced according to the requirements of your chosen plants.
- 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.
- 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:
- Water Regularly: Water your plants deeply and consistently, especially during dry periods. Monitor soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule as needed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Harvest Responsibly: Harvest your produce optimally for the best flavour and nutritional value. Regular harvesting can also encourage continuous production in some plants.
Seeds and planting
Links and Resources
(These are some of what I use)
mybackyard.ca Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success
myBackyard.ca Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)
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 Name||Difficulty (1-5)||When to Start Indoors||Transplant Date||Days to Maturity|
|Pollock Tomatoes||3||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||75-85|
|Candyland Cherry Tomatoes||2||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||65-75|
|Banana Peppers||2||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||65-75|
|Bell Peppers||2||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||60-80|
|Baby Girl Tomatoes||2||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||60-70|
|Early Latah Tomatoes||2||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||55-65|
|Amish Paste Tomatoes||3||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||75-85|
|Scotia Tomatoes||2||April 5 – April 19||June 7 – June 21||55-65|
|Giant Pumpkin||3||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||100-120|
|Green Hubbard Squash||3||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||100-120|
|Table Queen Squash (Acorn Squash)||2||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||70-80|
|Burgess Buttercup Squash||3||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||85-100|
|Trombocino Squash||2||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||60-80|
|Spaghetti Squash||2||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||85-95|
|Sunstripe Zucchini||1||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||45-55|
|Sugar Pumpkin||2||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||90-100|
|Black Beauty Zucchini||1||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||45-55|
|Little Gem Squash||2||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||65-75|
|Mashed Potato Squash||3||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||80-90|
|Baked Potato Squash||3||April 12 – April 26||June 14 – June 28||80-90|
|Broccoli||3||March 15 – March 29||June 7 – June 21||65-75|
|Brussels Sprouts||3||March 15 – March 29||June 7 – June 21||85-100|
|Plant Name||Difficulty (1-5)||Cold Hardy||Dates to Direct Sow||Days to Maturity|
|Patio Snacker Cucumbers||1||No||June 7 – June 21||45-55|
|Str8 Cucumbers||1||No||June 7 – June 21||55-65|
|Giant Sunflower American||2||No||June 7 – June 21||70-100|
|Swiss Chard Red||1||Yes||June 7 – June 21||55-60|
|Swiss Chard Rainbow||1||Yes||June 7 – June 21||55-60|
|Swiss Chard Green||1||Yes||June 7 – June 21||55-60|
|Kohlrabi Kosack||2||Yes||April 26 – May 10||50-60|
|Kohlrabi White Vienna||2||Yes||April 26 – May 10||50-60|
|Corn Peaches n Cream||3||No||June 7 – June 21||70-85|
|Corn Montauk||3||No||June 7 – June 21||75-90|
|Super Sugar Snap Peas||1||Yes||April 12 – May 24||60-70|
|Beet Greens||1||Yes||April 12 – May 24||40-50|
|Taunus Beets||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||50-60|
|Frilly Kale||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||50-60|
|Kale Red Russian||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||50-60|
|Rutabaga||3||Yes||April 12 – May 24||90-100|
|Turnip||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||45-60|
|Nantes Carrots||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||65-75|
|Yellow Bush Beans Gold Rush||1||No||June 7 – June 21||50-60|
|Yellow Bush Beans Gold Rush||1||No||June 7 – June 21||50-60|
|Green Bush Beans Provider||1||No||June 7 – June 21||50-60|
|Green Bush Beans Lewis||1||No||June 7 – June 21||50-60|
|Radish||1||Yes||April 12 – May 24||25-40|
|Chinese Cabbage||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||65-75|
|Pak Choi||2||Yes||April 12 – May 24||45-60|
|Scallions||1||Yes||April 12 – May 24||60-70|
|Thyme||2||Yes||June 7 – June 21||75-85|
|Oregano||2||Yes||June 7 – June 21||75-85|
|Dill||1||No||June 7 – June 21||40-50|
|Rosemary||3||Yes||June 7 – June 21||75-85|
|Parsley||2||Yes||June 7 – June 21||70-80|
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.