When to start planting seeds – indoors first

Are you planning a garden this spring? As last years run on seeds has made the early ordering of your seeds for the coming year is a bit more critical now than in years passed as many vendors sold out and some varieties were nearly impossible to get.
If you haven’t already received your seed catalogues for ordering there are many online sites to order your seeds to make sure you get the seeds you want.

The source for your seeds, either online or on the packet will usually have an abundance of information. The seed information is essential to planting/soil conditions, timing and planting location, and planning your harvest. Focusing on what’s needed for seed starting you should know

The following are some of the essential information you should know for your seeds. If not on the seed packets, it should be easy to look up the information online.

Direct Sow means the seeds are planted directly into the ground usually just before or just after the last frost, which in these parts is around June the first.

Start indoors (days or weeks before the last frost) indicates the seeds need longer than a typical growing season to mature. The plants will then be transplanted outside after the danger of frost has passed. You should treat this number with a grain of salt as our growing season is shorter than average. In NW Ontario seeds will likely need to start indoors before the date indicated on the package.

Germination time is the amount of time a seed takes from planting until it sprouts.

Days to maturity is the length of time a seed needs to reach flowering or harvesting stage depending on the plant. These days begin after the germination time unless they are direct sow seeds in which case it starts with planting.

Germination time, coupled with days to maturity, will give you a realistic time for growing that particular plant.

To determine a simple planting schedule, work using the maturity time, germination time and count back from the first frost date (September the seventh).
Pollock tomatoes have a ten-day germination time and 90 days to maturity. Pollock tomatoes will need another 2-3 weeks to form and mature/ripen. 10 days + 90 days = 100 days till they start bearing fruit. Add another 21 days for ripening, and we are now at 121 days – well beyond our 100-day growing season. Counting back 121 days (4 months) from September the seventh is May the ninth. May ninth would be the last possible planting date to have time to grow. But typically we want tomatoes during the summer, not just in the fall. If you want tomatoes on July the first, you will need to plant indoors by March the second.

A couple of common plants started indoors now or over the next month are tomatoes and peppers. Each is a transplantable plant moved outside after the risk of frost has passed (June the first). Tomatoes and peppers require the house’s warmth to germinate, grow and accommodate a long time to maturity.

I have created and have recently updated my garden planner for Microsoft Excel. It is an excel file which auto-calculates plant times, allows for simple garden design and layouts and a few other things. It can be downloaded here. I will be uploading a new user guide for it as well shortly.


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