Seed Starting Guide for Canada (Alberta, zone 3)

Seed starting can be often be confusing and sometimes seem a guessing game,should I sow these seeds indoors or outdoors? If indoors what month should I start them? This article is a general guide for what month and where to start your seeds. This is particularly suitable for gardeners in Alberta, zone 3 as this is where my homestead is based and my gardening experience lies. The information in this article is designed to be a starting point to inspire and spark ideas for you when planning seed starting. This is the monthly guide we follow on our Alberta farmstead that we have learned through some trial and error growing for our own homestead and small business.

January

January is for starting indoors. In January generally we start our perennials that we either plant on the farm or will take to market. They need some time, so we opt to plant them now.

  • Goji
  • Lilac
  • Rhubarb
  • Elderberry (from seed)
  • Asparagus (from seed)
  • Wild Rose
Small garden hand tools, lie on burlap beside a bag of compost
Tools and Compost ready for planting

February

February is the month when our vegetable and homestead garden really hits the ground running. We start a lot of seeds in this month. We start all of these indoors of course.

  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Leeks
  • Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • All herbs such as sage, basil, thyme…
  • Eucalyptus

March

In March we are still starting indoors. However we utilise cold frames and weather dependent we may start planting in those during this month. We still have frost and can have bouts of snow so cold hardy greens would be planted in the cold frames although this can get pushed back to April.

  • Many flowers from seed (zinnias, dahlias, snapdragons, pansies, asters, hollyhocks…)
  • Brassicas (cauliflower, brocoli, sprouts..)
  • Tomatoes
  • Possibly cold hardy greens in the cold frame (spinach, kale, chard)
Lettuce Seedling in soil
Seedlings

April

April sees a mixture of us still starting some plants indoors, using the cold frames and weather dependent there can be the opportunity to direct sow cooler hardy crops outside. The risk of frost has not passed yet, however crops such as peas and radishes can withstand the odd bout of frost or even snowfall provided it is temporary and we have warm spells between.

Start Indoors

  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkins/Squashes
  • Nasturtium

Cold Frames

  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Chard

Sow Outdoors

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Dill
Kale and Spinach Leaves
Kale and Spinach

May

May brings direct sowing outdoors. Our last frost in our area of Alberta (greater Edmonton area) can be anywhere from mid-end of May. Some of these crops can be finnicky with soil temperature (example-corn) for germination so sometimes this has been pushed back until June.

  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • More greens
  • Okra
  • Flowers such as rudbeckia, sunflowers, strawflowers, calendula, poppies.
Two sunflowers with yellow leaves against a blue sky
Sunflowers

Transplanting

Remember when transplanting indoor starters outdoors you will have to harden off first. We harden the plants off over a period of two weeks. We take them out into the garden during the day and bring them indoors at night. We wait until the risk of frost has passed before transplanting out.

I hope this guide has piqued your interest or set off ideas for where to start in planning your garden this year. As always you will have to take into account small differences in the environment and this is a guide some farmers/gardeners may plant at different times. Keep notes, find what worked and what didn’t and you will find what works for you.

As always if you want to grab some seeds visit Green Witch Seed for seed needs. If you sign up to the mailing list, you can receive discount codes from time to time (literally a handful of year and that is it)!

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