How to start a garden from scratch, plus where to shop for seeds online in Canada

Kate Mendonca
Shopping Editor

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It’s no surprise that with an increase of free time and seemingly endless hours at home, that gardening has become a new favourite pastime among Canadians. We’re finally starting to enjoy some warmer spring weather and you may be tempted to start a garden of your own, and seeds are an inexpensive way to get started.

If you’re new to gardening, planting your own herbs and veggies from seed may seem like a fun and easy place to start, but it’s actually a more challenging way to start compared to planting seedlings. It’s certainly more rewarding though, as any veteran gardener can attest, and you’re able to control every aspect of your plant’s growth, from the fertilizer used to its water intake.

Despite it being slightly more time-consuming, it’s still possible for gardeners of any skill level to get their hands dirty with little more than some seeds and soil. If you’re a complete newbie and you’re interested in giving it a shot this season, read on for everything you need to know about planting with seeds, along with where to shop for them online. 

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Getting started

Before breaking out your garden tools for the first time, it’s best to think about your new venture as an experiment. 

“Some of your plants aren’t going to make it,” shared gardening expert Frankie Flowers in his book Power Plants. “I’ve been working in gardens since I was two years old, and I have killed more than my share of plants - it happens to all of us.”

That said, choosing the right plants that will flourish in your own unique environment will greatly increase your chances of success. Factors to think about? The amount of light you receive in your home or yard, how much water your plants will need (and in turn how much time you’ll need to devote to watering them), and your soil conditions are all important to consider.

Indoor vs. outdoor

It’s possible to plant seeds directly into the ground outside, but if you live in a cooler climate where nighttime temperatures are still quite low, you may want to hold off and start your seeds indoors. 

It’s possible to use dedicated seed starting trays and peat pellets to plant your seeds, but upcycling old materials from around the house is an environmentally-friendly way to start planting.

Image courtesy of Egg Farmers of Canada.

Using either old egg cartons or cleaned-out eggshells, you’re providing your seeds with biodegradable containers that can be planted directly into the soil once it’s warm enough to transfer your seedlings outside, and removing household waste from landfills. 

While seeding indoors works well for plants like herbs, tomatoes and flowers, it’s important to note that certain plants fare better when sown directly outdoors since they don’t enjoy being transplanted. When it comes to root vegetables like carrots, beets and radishes, and quick-growing veggies like beans, peas and spinach, you’re better off planting seeds directly outdoors. 

When it’s time to transplant

If you do end up starting you seeds indoors, eventually you’ll want to transplant them into a planter or garden bed outdoors. Before you do, it’s important to make sure that your seedlings have adapted to the different light levels and temperatures than they faced inside with a gradual transition from indoors to outdoors.

The process of bringing seedlings outdoors on warm days and back inside at night is called hardening off, and you’ll want to spend about five to ten days on this step before transplanting. Once daytime temperatures have reached over 15℃, it’s generally safe to begin the hardening off process in order to give them the best chance at adapting. 

Ready to get started? Ahead, shop a selection of retailers where you can order your seeds online without ever leaving home.

Amazon

Basil Seeds. Image via Amazon.

With a huge assortment of heirloom and organic seeds, you can find seeds for growing herbs, flowers, fruits and veggies. 

SHOP IT: Amazon, $2

The Incredible Seed Co. 

Close up of green beans growing on vine

Based in Nova Scotia, The Incredible Seed Co. specializes in over 500 of the tastiest and most beautiful heirloom and open pollinated plant varieties.

SHOP IT: The Incredible Seed Co., $3

Veseys

Healthy Herb Garden. Image via Veseys.

Since 1939, Veseys has been providing vegetables, flowers, fruit and herb seeds throughout Canada, and this family-run business continues out of PEI to this day. 

SHOP IT: Veseys, $5 (originally $10)

Etsy

Glass Gem Corn. Image via Etsy.

If you’re looking for unique varieties of fruits or vegetables, look no further that Etsy’s vast selection of plants and seeds.

SHOP IT: Etsy, $9

Home Depot

Tomato Sweet Million F1 Seeds. Image via Home Depot.

Home Depot has everything you’ll need to get your garden started, including seeds, tools, soil, and planting kits. 

SHOP IT: Home Depot, $3

OSC Seeds

Chioggia Guardsmark Organic Beet Seeds. Image via OSC Seeds.

OSC Seeds (aka the Ontario Seed Company) has been around for over 125 years and offers a full line of products including over 30 herbs, 250 vegetables, 240 annuals, and 100 perennials and biennials suitable for Canada’s various climates.

SHOP IT: OSC Seeds, from $3

Walmart

Cergrey 300Pcs/Pack Super Large Strawberry Seeds. Image via Walmart.

If you’re not willing to venture into stores, Walmart’s website is filled with all kinds of flowers, fruit and vegetable seeds that you can have shipped straight to your home. 

SHOP IT: Walmart, $9 (originally $18)

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