Starting a container garden for veggies


Hi! I have a sunny backyard in west end Toronto that is mostly covered in gravel and grass– I would like to start up a veggie garden in containers. I was hoping to start from seeds but I think I may be late for that? I am basically just wondering where to start! What veggies should be started now, can I start from seeds, and where is a good place to get seeds/seedlings in Toronto?



How ambitious! There’s nothing like picking your own tomato or munching on lettuce fresh from the yard. It might be too late to plant seeds for some veggies, such as the aforementioned tomatoes, as they need a long period to germinate and grow. Others, such as peas, carrots, melon, squash, and beans can be directly sown into the soil, following the directions on the packet.

The containers should be as large as you can manage; rectangular and square work well, and all should be at least 60cm deep. They should have good drainage and be clean. If they are not clean, and have had other plants in them in the past, a quick scrub with a brush and 10 parts water and 1 part bleach will clean them and remove possible pathogens. Rinse well.

Add a prepared, light soil (not dug from the ground), with lots of compost or organic matter. The compost is excellent food for young plants, and keeps the soil from compacting. Direct sowing, (that is, not preparing seeds in seed trays under lights until they start to grow), must be done when the soil is warm, though not all seeds need that. For example, peas can be sown in soil as cool as 4 degrees C, but a squash seed needs around 18C for soil.  A seed on a cold soil will just sit there or rot, until the soil warms up.

There is a lot to know and really can’t be completely covered here. Here’s a link that might help you out:

Of course, when the weather continues to warm, there is no reason for you not to purchase seedlings. Make sure they haven’t started to flower and their stems are sturdy and not floppy. Everything from tomatoes to lettuces, kale, broccoli, peppers and squashes can be found as seedlings.   Most garden centres sell them, and even your local farmer’s market will sell seedlings too: often heirloom varieties and some very unusual veggies that might not be available at garden centres. Seed packets are also available at garden centres, and many carry organic varieties.

You might be interested in this Garden Guide on growing vegetables:

Best of luck, and don’t forget to experiment!