Seeds for an Early Start

January 8, 2023

Spring may seem so far away, but some seeds can take so long to develop into a size you can actually plant, that they require an early start.

Here’s a list of some things to really get those itchy green thumbs growing:


To ensure blooms their first season, Artichoke should be started quite early indoors. Seedlings will require consistent light to ensure bushy, compact plants so be sure to provide them with supplemental lighting.



Perennial herbs that eventually develop woody stems (oregano, rosemary, lemongrass, and thyme) are all slow growing as seedlings. So slow that most greenhouses grow their herbs by taking cuttings of adult plants and rooting them. It’s more economical to produce these herbs from seed, but be sure to start early February, and provide sufficient artificial light.


Leeks & Onions

Notoriously slow, leeks and onions should be started no later than the first week of February. If you can, use bottom heat to speed germination and then grow the seedlings under bright artificial light to minimize legginess.

pepper seedling


Peppers will ALWAYS benefit from an early start in Alberta! With such a shortened growing season, the better the head start we can give our plants, the better! Peppers can be started in January and February to give an extra early head start, but do ensure you are prepared to provide sufficient lighting, and be prepared to transplant once or twice as the seedlings develop.

Ideally, potting up to a generous 6”/1 gallon pot a few weeks before planting out will give you a healthy sized plant that will ensure a decent harvest.
Perennials - Foxglove


The ones that come back every year, most perennials will require an earlier seeding than typical annuals and bedding plants. Lavender, Columbine, Foxglove Blanketflower, Yarrow and Coneflower are all common perennials you’ll find on most seed racks. Though most perennials can be started about 8 weeks prior to planting out (so mid to late March), many benefit from special treatment to ensure consistent germination.

A quick package read or search on your favourite seed site will often reveal whether the seed will benefit from Scarification (a scratching of the seed coat) OR stratification (a chilling period). If stratifying your seed, you’ll want to give yourself time before seeding to do so.