Feels good, doesn’t it? Soon, we’ll all be out in the garden playing in the soil and growing beautiful plants. One of the first things we think about when spring arrives is seed starting. Some plants, like peppers and snapdragons, need some extra time to grow indoors before they can thrive outside in the garden. This is entirely due to our weather. As you know, the weather in Alberta is always changing. It makes life interesting, that’s for sure. However, frost is enemy #1 to tender seedlings who don’t have the proper defenses built up to survive a sudden blast. Therefore, many seeds will begin their lives inside.
When do you begin?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? It truly depends on the type of seed you’re growing. Let’s unpack that a little bit. There’s a lot of information on the back of every seed packet. You’ll learn things like planting depth, row spacing, and germination timeline. More importantly, you’ll learn how much time they’ll need indoors before you can plant them outside. This is typically in relation to when the last frost happens. In Calgary, our rule of thumb is around the May Long Weekend. Sometimes, the weather has other plans, so even then we suggest keeping an eye on the forecast. You’re looking for positive overnight temperatures and no risk of frost and snow. It’s a good idea to have products like frost blankets available just in case. As you can imagine, we talk a looooot about the weather around here!
For a general look at when and what you can grow in Calgary, we have lots of information available in our Complete Calgary Seed Starting Chart.
It addresses terminology like “hardiness”, “direct sow”, “transplanting”, and “annual” vs “biennial” vs “perennial”. The chart itself is visually easy to digest and groups your different seeds into categories like “herbs”, “flowers”, and “fruits/veggies”.
Feel free to download it and bring it in when you’re shopping for seeds!
Now that you have your seeds… what kinds of equipment do you need?
There’s a guide for that! Our Seed Growing Guide will break down each step from acquiring the equipment and using it. You can see these tools in action in our Seed Starting Webinar Encore Presentation with Colin Hayles. We’d also love to help you in store with all your seed starting essentials, or feel free to peruse our online store!
Have you seen our other How-To guides?
If you need assistance with other gardening ventures like container gardening, orchid care, or tree planting, check them out on our website