Prairie Post (East Edition)

Seed starting a good way to get your winter growing

- By Alison Van Dyke Alison Van Dyke is the Food Security Coordinato­r with Community Food Connection­s Associatio­n. For more informatio­n, please see www.foodconnec­

The weather outside may be snowy and cold, but now is the time to be ordering seeds and planning on seed starting times for this gardening year. Due to our shorter growing season, many plants need to be started indoors in February or March in order to have produced a harvest by the first fall frost. Some common examples of plants that need early start times are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and celery.

If you are a first-time gardener, you may choose to purchase your seed at any number of local garden nurseries or hardware stores. You may find though, with time and experience, that you become more particular about what you are growing, especially if you are working with limited space. Canadian seed houses are great options for finding that specific heritage variety you are looking for, or guaranteei­ng that you are choosing plants that will grow in your gardening zone.

You do not need a lot of fancy equipment to start your seeds. A sunny window and a few other supplies will get you started. Small containers, made from newspaper forms, toilet roll tubes, empty milk cartons, or disposable cups with drainage holes, can all be used to start seeds.

You can also use peat or coconut coir plant pots which can be placed directly into your garden when it comes time to

plant outdoors. These are filled with a potting mix and set in a tray with sides for easy watering. You can purchase plastic trays specific to this purpose, but I’ve also seen people use old cookie sheets.

I prefer to water my seeds from the bottom by adding water to the tray until the soil is saturated. This prevents the seeds and tiny seedlings from being dislodged, which can happen easily when watering from above. Planting instructio­ns and seed starting times are given on individual seed packets particular to that plant, so be sure to read them over when purchasing, to make sure you have ample time and space for growing them.

Seeds of Diversity has compiled a Canadian Seed Catalogue Index to help you find specific varieties of seeds from within Canada. Happy seed starting!


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