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Gardening season is coming soon. Here are the fruits and vegetables you should be growing indoors now

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Spring is almost in the air, and if you’re looking to get a head start on your home garden the time to germinate your fruit and vegetable seeds indoors may be now.

What to Grow

Manitoba’s shorter growing season, poses unique challenges. A typical growing season is around 110 to 120 days, meaning most outdoor planting doesn’t usually occur until around the end of May – or once frost is no longer a threat. However, this makes timing out when you begin seeding plants indoors all the more important.

Mid-to-late-March is typically a good time to get things like tomatoes, peppers, and asparagus going, but experts say it’s essential to look at directions on seed packets since different varieties can vary in growing time.

Carla Hrycyna, the president and co-owner of St.Mary’s Nursery and Garden Centre, said there’s not a lot of fruit you can start indoors at the moment but there are options.

“If you're looking at starting strawberry seeds, you can start them right now. Some people like to start them by seeds. You might be a little bit on the later side of it, but they're going to catch up once they're outdoors,” said Hrycyna.

Other popular favourites which have longer growing times, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and cabbages, can also be started indoors earlier in the season.

Irene Scarff, garden store manager at Shelmerdine Garden Centre, noted fast-growing veggies like beans, peas, potatoes, and corn, aren’t the best options to start indoors.

“Carrots, for example, are hard to transplant. They have fine roots and like warm soil, so it’s better to just wait,” said Scarff.

If you’re looking to up your culinary game, herbs are another option you can start seeding now. Hrycyna said customers have been recently inquiring about basil.

“It’s one of those ones that's a little bit more tender, it's a little bit easier to grow inside the house. Just be careful not to overwater it,” said Hrycyna.

She also recommends “sticking with your savouries, your thymes… and parsley.”

Tips for beginners

If you’re a garden novice and aren’t sure about where to begin, Scarff said it’s best to go with your gut - literally.

“Think about what you like to eat and grow that. Don’t go crazy trying to do too much. Gain confidence, and don’t overplant,” Scarff

Caitlin Wikdahl, general retail manager at Shelmerdine Garden Centre said a seed starting soil is a good option to plant your seeds in.

“It’s something that’s finer, not as heavy as say an outdoor planting soil and that way the little roots that come off of the seedlings will be able to make their way through the soil a bit easier. It helps them to germinate them better,” said Wikdahl.

She also recommends ideally using a grow light, but placing a plant near or on a south or west-facing window is also an effective method. And if you notice your fruit or veggies looking skinny, there are ways to counteract that.

“As long as they have two sets of leaves you can pinch things back."

Seed trays are also a good starting point.

“It's always best to get a tray with smaller cells, and do your seeding in smaller cells, to begin with, because the roots of all those small cells will take a fair bit of time to develop and grow”, said Hrycyna. “An added little dome or a plastic cover over top of your seedlings will help to hold the heat and also give you that proper humidity and moisture a little bit longer for that seed to break.”

And if you’re overwhelmed, Wikdahl said try not to be.

“I think the biggest thing, the biggest take me home, is that it is easier than you think…It’s fun to do,” said Wikdahl.

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