Monday, January 30, 2012

Seed Starting Schedule for 2012

It's time to plan out the seed starting schedule.  On this past weekend we made our annual "pilgrimmage" to the Organic Conference in Guelph, where we saw many old friends, ate organic icecream from Mapletons (my favourites are chai, ginger and pumpkin), came back with a pile of exciting new seed packages from our favourite Ontario small seed companies Cottage Gardener, Greta's, and Urban Harvest, and were generally inspired by the crowd of farmers/gardeners and other folks who live, advocate for, and grow organically. 

Each year we post our Seed Starting Schedule (for zone 5-6, where we need to start plenty of our seeds in advance, e.g. tomatoes, brassicas, hot peppers, herbs)...Here is the link to last year's post regarding our seed schedule, or if you don't want to read the entire post again I will include the summary of our Seed Starting Schedule below.

We also placed seed orders with West Coast Seeds, High Mowing, and Richters Herbs today - in particular, the photos and selection of High Mowing were astounding - we are especially anticipating their specialty greens, edamame, high-resin medicinal calendula, and wild greens (wild arugula, purslane, amaranth, purple mustards, etc).  Maya is excited about what she chose for her garden: dragon beans, rainbow carrots, dinosaur kale...she wants to plant a rainbow selection of vegetables this year.

PLANTING GUIDE (based on frost-free date of May 24):
FEBRUARY (the greens listed here can continue to be planted throughout the growing season of course)

Start lettuce, chard, other greens in greenhouse or in flats indoors (to be planted out to greenhouse). Start selected medicinal and culinary herbs by middle of February. Some take 6-8 weeks to germinate!

10 WEEKS TO LAST FROST (aprox. March 15)
Start seeds of celery, eggplant, leeks, onion, pepper and flowers like impatiens, lobelia, verbena and perennials indoors.

8 WEEKS TO LAST FROST (aprox. March 29)
Start seeds of early head lettuce and flowers like begonia, coleus, nicotiana, petunia and salvia indoors.

7 WEEKS TO LAST FROST (aprox. April 5)
Start seeds of tomatoes, hot peppers, and early basil indoors.

6 WEEKS TO LAST FROST(aprox. April 12)
Start seeds of early left lettuce, early cabbages including cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and kale, and small seeded annuals indoors. DIRECT SEED broad beans, carrots, peas, spinach, leaf lettuce, turnips, dill, parsley, and hardy flowers such as alyssum, candytuft, pansies, poppies, snapdragons, stocks, sunflowers and sweet peas. Plant onion sets or transplant onion seedlings outdoors.

4 WEEKS TO LAST FROST (aprox. April 26)
Start melon seeds indoors. If desired, start seeds of late basil, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, large-seeded annuals, and flowering vines indoors in peat pots. DIRECT SEED radishes, beets, cabbages, chard, head lettuce, and flowers such as godetia, hollyhock, and mallow. Plant potato eyes and transplant seedlings of early cabbages, except cauliflower.

2 WEEKS TO LAST FROST (aprox. May 10)
DIRECT SEED corn, tender bulbs such as glads, and annual vines such as morning glory. Transplant early lettuce seedlings.

WEEK OF LAST FROST (aprox. May 17-24)
Around the last frost date you can finally direct seed beans, cauliflower, cucumber, squashes, heat-loving flowers such as zinnias, marigold, and lavatera. Transplant your tomaotes. If you've got them, transplant cauliflower, squash and cucumber seedlings.

1-2 WEEKS AFTER FROST (aprox. May 31-June 7)
Wait for a couple of weeks after the last frost before direct seedling lima benas, soybeans, melons and herbs such as basil, summer savory and sweet marjoram. Transplant celery, melon, peppers, eggplant seedlings when the night temperatures stay well above 10 degrees C. Plant sweet potato slips. Start second crop of kale seedlings, and reseed spinach and peas for second crop.


  1. Very helpful! We are jumping into our first fully committed year of gardening. I'm trying to decide between a small greenhouse or indoor lighting for starting our seeds. Which do you use?

  2. I was wondering that growing medium you use to start your seeds. I live in Niagara Region, and our "ast frost date is April 29th apparently!) -- According to the farmers almanac website. I am leaning towards a soil-less mix, because from what I understand, seeds have all of the nutrients they need until germination, and the seed-starting mix is not necessarily important. I was at Seedy Saturday at Brock U. last weekend, and bought Steve Biggs and Donna Balzers book NO GUFF VEGETABLE GARDENING - so helpful. Their take is a soil-less mix is just fine... but I wanted your thoughts. I also just signed up for your course for Organic Seed Starting, on sat. March 10th from 1-3pm. That's SUPER exciting! Thanks for everything you do with this blog. It's such a wealth of knowledge, and I really enjoy your posts.