Seed Starting Calendar: Zone 5b

If you kick off each new year wondering just how many days there are until Winter finally clears out and Spring settles in, you’re not alone! One of the first things I do each year in early to mid-January is to pull out my calendar and count back the weeks from the Victoria Day long weekend. This helps me to plan out when to start seeds and when to start spring cleanup in the garden. It also gives me things to look forward to, and this time of year many of us need hopeful and happy things to get us through the dark, cold days of Winter.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the last spring frost date is around May 14, 2019 for where I live in Zone 5b.

As we get closer to the long weekend we’ll dig into more details about what can be started and when.

Seed Starting Dates for Zone 5b in 2019


Browse online or order print versions of seed catalogues. Here’s a list of Canadian seed sources.

February 9

Now is a great time to start getting supplies together if you want to start some seeds indoors. Some things you may need for seed starting:

  • Seed starting soil mix
  • Artificial lighting (unless you’re lucky enough to live in a house with lots of windows and wide window ledges) and proper ventilation
  • Small pots
  • A watering can
  • Seed starting flats and trays are handy
  • Paper and a pen or pencil, or an app – someplace you can record what you planted and when, then take notes about progress and what will need to be potted up or fertilized and when

Another great tip is to organize your seed binder in the order from earliest start date to latest – 10-12 weeks before last frost; 8-10 weeks; 6-8 weeks; 4-6 weeks; and seeds that can be planted directly outside.

Also keep an eye out for Seedy Saturday in your area – some happen as early as February!

February 23

It may still feel like the dead of Winter, but hope is in the horizon! Twelve weeks before Victoria Day long weekend, there are a few seeds that can be started, such as leeks. 

If you’re planning a vacation this Winter, you’ll need to make arrangements for someone to take care of your seedlings while you’re away. Alternatively there are some tools to keep your seedlings in a healthy state while you’re away.

March 9

10 weeks out. Perennials like delphiniums should be started 8-10 weeks out. Peppers can be started as well. 

March 23

8 weeks out, start a few more peppers and some tomatoes.

April 6

Start a few more tomatoes. 

April 20

We’re four weeks out from the long weekend. 

May 4

Two weeks before the long weekend… NANPS spring plant sale! A favourite destination of mine. Open to the public, the sale is the place to find native plants from spring ephemerals to trees. Members are able to order plants ahead of time and pick them up that day.

May 18

The official spring kickoff! Be sure to check the weather forecasts as even though this weekend is usually safe to start planting outdoors, it is entirely possible that we may still get frosts, or even snow. One year I spent all weekend planting, then only a few days later we were to get a heavy frost. I spent two hours after I got home from work that evening putting pots and anything else I could find over all of the new plants in the yard to protect them.

Seed packets will all contain information about when to start seeds. If you’re working with seeds that you’ve collected or that have been shared with you without instructions, The Spruce has a table with some guidelines to hep you out.

JCCarnegie Written by:

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