Lovely. Another storm watch. They are predicting 15-20 cm of snow to fall in Southwestern Ontario from tonight through to tomorrow. If you have to go out, drive carefully, as it will be a wet mix with rain intermixed into all that snow. Not looking forward to the morning commute, I can tell you. Just another winter day in Canada.

Seed packets are in!

Ah, but there is a bright spot in all of this. If you take a peek into your local garden centre, a sure sign of spring is already there in the form of seed packets! If you are an avid gardener at heart, now is the time to start planning this year’s garden. That means ordering seed catalogues and deciding how many plants to start indoors to get a jump-start on your garden. You can save time and money by starting your own seeds indoors and all it really takes is a bright spot in your home. If natural light is at a premium in your house, then fluorescent lights will do the trick as well. Once you have your growing medium and the pots to grow the seeds in, then all that is required is a little water and you are off to the races!

A tray used in horticulture (for sowing and ta...

A tray used in horticulture (for sowing and taking plant cuttings) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you shaking your heads at the memory of a less than green thumb from previous seasons, relax. Winter doldrums disappear at the sight of tiny saplings sticking their head out of the dirt. And it really isn’t nearly as hard as one would think! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind before you start;

  • Do you want to grow annuals (live for one season) or perennials (return every year)? If you are thinking of seeds, annuals are the easier choice.
  • Are you wanting edible plants or flowers/grasses? They often have very different propagation time periods, so set a time-table for your sowing schedule.
  • If you are looking to start fruits or vegetables, how many people are you planning to feed with them? You only need as many plants as per people you will be feeding, so plant your seeds accordingly. No need to have 20 plants producing enough food to fee your neighbourhood, when you have a family of three to provide for.
  • When is the last frost date for your area? Depending upon the plants that you grow, you need to know when the last frost will occur in your area (approximately). Planting seeds too early might leave you with leggy specimens that don’t stand a chance once they reach the outside world. Calculate how long before planting you need to sow your seeds, then count back from the projected frost date. That is when to plant them.
  • Are you planting more than one thing? More than likely you are, so make sure to label everything! Seedlings tend to look alike when they first come up, so do yourself a favour and write on a popsicle stick, on the container or whatever else is handy to make sure that you know what you have on your hands a few weeks after planting your seeds.
  • Once it is time to take your seedlings outside to transplant, don’t forget the most important thing – harden them off! The atmosphere between your house (fairly uniform) to outside can differ greatly. Slowly acclimatize them to the outside sunshine and temperatures gradually, or else all your efforts will be for naught.

What is your best advice for the novice seed gardener? Any tips and tricks to help everything go and grow smoothly?

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