It’s the end of February now, and I am definitely getting the itch to start growing some vegetable seeds indoors in preparation for a fantastic gardening season.
Last year I took the reigns of starting our veggies indoors. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my shit together very promptly and started them pretty late.
They worked out for the most part, but that not-so-little blunder set my gardening season up to be more stressful than I would like.
This year is going to be different.
Starting with the fact that we are not farming a market garden this year. Truth be told, I found it to be too much. It was hard to keep on top of all the weeding, planting, and harvesting.
Instead, this year, I am going to concentrate on our backyard, or in our case, side yard, garden. I will leave the market gardening to the professionals!
How Early Should I start Vegetable Seeds Indoors?
Just kidding, kind of.
While it is nearing the end of February, you could start your seeds now. However, if you have not planned your garden out first, I would start there.
The very minimum that you should do is make a list of the veggies that you absolutely want to grow.
In my case, I have a ton of seeds left over from our previous two seasons of market gardening, so I do not plan on purchasing any veggie seeds this year. Instead, I am going to do my damndest to use up the seeds we currently have.
The next step is to measure your garden and make a plan. I usually do this the old-fashioned way and draw my garden to scale on a piece of paper. Then, I use the back of the seed packages which tell me how much space each plant needs, and draw out the rows of veggies that I want to plant based on how much room I have.
Full transparency: I am winging it a little bit this year as I have not measured our garden. It is currently under a bunch of snow and I could probably get a rough estimate on the size but I just want to get started. I am fully aware that this means I may have too much or too little of some veggies. I am ok with that.
This will give a good indication of how many seeds to start indoors and you can prioritize the veggies that you really want to grow.
For the majority of vegetables, the seeds can be started indoors in March. It’s always a good idea to check the back of the packages for specific information because each plant will differ.
Now, I don’t start all varieties of seeds indoors, some I direct plant right into the garden. I will use the planning time in February to figure out which plants I am going to start indoors and which ones will be direct seeded in the garden in the spring.
Again, refer to the back of the seed packages for this information.
When Should I Start Tomato Seeds Indoors In Canada?
Tomato plants are tricky! Start them too soon and you end up with leggy tomato plants that flop over very easily. Start them too late and you will have a lot of green tomatoes on your hands come the end of the season.
Generally speaking, you should start tomato seeds indoors in March. But please, please, please check the back of the package for specific details on when to start your particular variety of tomato plant as they can differ from variety to variety.
When Should You Start Gardening In Ontario?
In my opinion, gardening starts when you start your seeds in March.
If you’re referring to when Canadians start gardening outdoors, that answer is around May 24 weekend. By then we have hopefully had our last frost and you can confidently plant cold-hearty crops like kale, spinach, salad greens, and some varieties of beans and peas.
What Happens If You Start Indoor Seeds Too Early?
If you start your indoor seeds too early, it’s not the end of the world. You may need to pot-up your starts so they do not become root bound. This may result in buying more soil and increasing your space for growing.
The plants may also become leggy and weak if you start the seeds too early.
My advice is to follow the recommendation on the package and if you run into any issues, google it! Sounds bad, but there is a ton of helpful advice from gardeners more experienced than me to learn from.
Don’t get me wrong, I love gardening, but I am far from an expert!
2023 Planting Calendar From Farmer’s Almanac
Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar is a great reference for when to start your veggies no matter where you are located in Canada.
I was able to easily look up the calendar for my area in about 1 minute.
This is especially handy for newbies who want the guesswork taken out of the ‘when to start’ process. What is also pretty nifty is the calendar provides not only the date to start your seeds indoors but also when to transplant your starts outdoors, as well as when to direct plant your seeds in the garden for those that do not need to be started indoors.
This handy calendar can help you plan out your garden for the whole season and I recommend that you take the time to thoroughly check it out and plan your garden.
The best time to plan your garden is February, or before.
March and April are the best time to start your seeds indoors, depending on the requirement of each variety of plant. Refer to the back of the seed packet or the Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar for this information.
May is a good time for ‘waking up your garden’ and start planting those cold hearty plants such as kale, spinach, lettuce, peas, and beans.
Please let me know in the comments if there is a specific aspect of starting your seeds indoors that you would like me to cover in a future article.