There just isn’t enough growing time in Southern Ontario. Our winter climate makes it less than ideal to garden for most of the year—leaving us with four or five months tops.
But, you can buy yourself some more time by getting a head start and sowing your seeds indoors. Besides the sheer anticipation of starting the gardening season, it can also be more cost effective than buying ready- to-plant bulbs. After raising your plants or vegetables inside, you can plant them into your garden so they are ready to thrive throughout the warm summer months. Here are a few tips for successfully sowing your seeds indoors:
- Timing is everything. When deciding the perfect time to start sowing your seeds, determine your area’s frost date. In our region, it is on average between May 9th and May 15th. Seed packages often offer valuable information about how long it will take for seedlings to be ready to be put into the ground, for example six or eight weeks. You will then work backwards from the frost date to determine the ideal amount of time you will need.
- Smooth Transition. Your home has been a safe haven for seedlings, with little exposure to wind or sun. When you’re ready to move them outside keep this in mind and do it gradually; a process known as ‘hardening off’. You can take seedlings in their pots and place them outside for a half day or a full day (depending on your conditions). Put them in a more sheltered area where they are not getting a harsh amount of sun and wind. This will give the plants more time to acclimatize to their new home, without becoming stressed.
- Know what to plant. Not all plants, or vegetables are equal. Some are more fickle than others and don’t like to be transported, while others are not affected at all. Know which plants are most likely to survive.
Here is a list of plants and vegetables (with their approximate seed starting time) that are very receptive to being sowed indoors:
Vegetable/herbs: basil (4-6 weeks), broccoli (6-7 weeks), cabbage (4 weeks), cauliflower (5-7 weeks), tomatoes (8 weeks)
Annual flowers: marigolds (4-6 weeks), alyssum (8 weeks), morning glories (4-6 weeks), calendula (5-6 weeks), zinnias (4-5 weeks), cosmos (4-6 weeks)