Starting your garden indoors

Time to start planting those seeds inside for a June outside transplant. The seeds planted now are the ones needing longer mature times including tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, giant pumpkins and some of the larger squashes (Hubbard). Some plants that you may desire an earlier crop like cucumbers and summer squash (zucchini) can also be planted indoors now to allow a 6-10 week sooner harvest.

Starting pot sizes and shapes.
The pot you start your plants in is essential as different plants require different size and shapes of containers. Tomatoes should have deep and narrow pots; larger plants will need larger pots. I have taken to using discarded milk cartons as pots. The smaller ones are great for the little plants like corn, the larger ones for the bigger plants like squash. Milk Cartons also are tall and narrow, making them ideal for tomatoes as covered in a previous article.
Many other things can be recycled and reused into growing pots. Egg cartons make for great seed starters, and the containers are very biodegradable. Single sized and larger yogourt plastic cup-like containers – margarine, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. Just remember to punch a few drainage holes in the bottom.


Potting soil is around, although the larger bags are buried in the snow/ice right now. Potting soil doesn’t have to be the highest priced stuff; it should be within a reasonable price range/amount that you can afford and still be of some quality. A little birdy told me Canadian Tire is getting a fresh shipment of potting soil this week.

Pots will need to be placed in a south-facing window that receives 6-10 hours of light a day if possible. Your window may only provide the lower limit of light right now, but as spring comes and your plants grow, the amount of sunlight will increase. If not, I do recommend an LED grow light in the 1000w range, the LED ones in my window have worked far better than I had anticipated and would highly recommend them. By turning the Grow lights on for a few hours every night during non-peak hours lessens the cost and still allows for no-light hours which is essential to plant growth.

Germinating seeds tend to require soil temperatures above 20C. Growing on or near radiators is ideal or consider using seed starting heating mats. Of course, the added heat from a radiator will cause the soil to dry out so watch soil dryness and water accordingly.

Germinating seeds require moist soil; overwatering will cause the seeds to rot or mould. For starting seeds, it is best to use a spray bottle to moisten the surface of the soil instead of dumping water onto the new plants or seeds. Monitor the dryness and water/mist/spray accordingly.

Seed depth
The depth the seed is planted is important to the germination process. Small, tiny seeds can be started by sprinkling on the surface and brushing the soil around to bury them lightly. As a rule of thumb, seeds should be planted at depths no more than three times the length of the seed. This is why tiny seeds need a dusting of soil, and even the larger seeds need very little soil above them.

Fill your containers or pots as desired with soil. A pre-watering can add moisture to dry potting soil. However, most potting soil has moisture straight from the bag. Plant the seed to the appropriate depth and cover with soil. A few sprays with the spray bottle will help get them started. Then place them on trays to collect draining water, cheap boot trays work well. Put them in the window and water just enough to keep the soil moist.

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Gardening Quick Links

Hodge Podge Garden
Stir fry Garden
Three Sisters (Corn, Pole Beans and Squash/Pumpkin)

The plants listed here are available at the physical shop located with the Nipigon River Bait Shop at 21 Second Street in Nipigon Ontario. Limited quantities are available, and all seeds are fresh and have been tested to grow here in NW Ontario.


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