Starting a Garden in Winter*


I am a journalism student at Humber College working on an assignment on starting gardens in winter. Can someone provide information on this particularly the benefits of starting in winter? Also, I’ve heard that fruit trees in the GTA are dying. Can you provide information on the diseases or pests that are affecting the trees?




Your questions focused on whether starting seeds indoors during the winter was best for a new gardener. The benefits of starting your own seeds are:

  • The selection of seeds available is far greater than what you will find as plants at your local nursery.
  • It can be more economical. A packet of seeds is a lot cheaper than the equivalent number of purchased plants. However, there are other costs to growing from seed as well not to mention your time in maintaining the new seedlings.
  • You can control the growing conditions of your plants and you’ll know exactly what medium and nutrients were used to start your plants.
  • You’ll get a head start on spring and experience the joy of gardening in the winter months.

Would I recommend starting seeds indoors for someone new to gardening? Probably not. I’d start by purchasing a few plants from a reliable nursery and direct sowing some seeds to get some initial experience and build from there.

For more information on starting seeds indoors, check out our Master Gardener Guide at the link below:

I was not able to find information suggesting unusual rates of decline in fruit trees in the GTA. I’m including below links to a number of local resources on growing fruit trees.

Fruit Trees in the Home Garden – Pest Management

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs

Fruit Trees a Tasty Addition to the City Canopy

Mark Cullen, Toronto Star, June 6, 2014

The Organic Fruit Garden: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide

Not Far from the Tree

A Toronto-based fruit picking project that picks fruit from registered trees and shares it with the homeowner, their volunteers and local food banks and community kitchens.