Step 1: Check your frost free date
Reliable Canadian seed producer/distributors like Victory Seeds and Vesey's offer a easy way to estimate the average date to expect the last frost to occur in your area. Visit either of these sites and find your province and community, then note the average last and first frost dates for your community.
In Thunder Bay, June first is the average date of the last spring frost. That means as of April 1, we have just 8 weeks to start plants. A little late? Well, it depends.
Step 2: Make a weekly planting calendar
Kathy LaLiberte offeres good tips in her article, 'When to Start Your Seeds'. She explains that "to calculate your planting dates, you need to count back from your last frost date in one-week increments." Use a calendar to number the weeks or block out a simple schedule.
Step 3: Check your seed packets
Read the back of the seed packets, looking for directions like "start indoors 3-4 weeks before last frost." Group seeds that need the same number of weeks before planting. Note the seed names/types on your calendar or schedule.
LaLiberte says, "Some packets, especially those for perennials, may only tell you how long it takes the seeds to germinate. If that's all you have to go on, take that figure (which is usually a range) and add 6 weeks." Group these seeds with others requiring the same number of weeks.
What happens if there is no information on the seed packet? Apply the Six Weeks Rule: Plan to start seeds about 6 weeks before you'll plant them outdoors.
Step 4: Adjust the plan for your conditions
Growing conditions affect whether you should start earlier or later.
"Seeds take longer to germinate and plants grow more slowly when air and soil temperatures are cool (below 70 degrees F). If you plan to start your seeds in a cool basement or cool bedroom, you may want to shift your whole schedule a week or two earlier," says LaLiberte.
"If you grow your seedlings in a greenhouse or an especially warm room (more than 70 degrees F.), you should cut a week or more out of your schedule. Heat promotes rapid growth, and you could find yourself with giant plants that are ready for the garden before warm weather arrives," says LaLiberte.
It's not too late to start seeds, right? This weekend, okay?
Do you make a seed starting plan?
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