[sdm-download id=”55107″ fancy=”2″ button_text=”Read Online Now!”]

Examples of typical garden plants and their growing times

Leaf Lettuce matures in ~ 55 days (good to go)
Romaine Lettuce Matures in ~70 days (good to go)

Bush Beans (pole beans tend to have higher maturity days/require more space)
Yellow wax Bush beans mature ~ 54 days
Green bush beans ~ 50 days

Peas (tend to be frost resistant)
Shelled Peas (only peas are edible) mature ~ 60 days
Snap Peas mature ~65 days (tall – need trellis)
Snow Peas mature ~69 days (tall – need trellis)

Tomatoes require a long growing season, well they are from down south). So time to cheat – we will simply use transplants which can be obtained locally starting in May, but we will plan for them now.

Between 80 and 100 days – Pushing it however the potatoes themselves are protected underground so they just may not be huge.

Between 60 and 70 days – can usually just be left in ground until the frost kills the tops.

60-80 days to maturity however easily and cheaply purchased as transplants so cheat a little.

40-80 days to maturity – good to go

Rutabagas (are not turnips)
60-90 days to maturity – they like the cold

70-90 days to maturity (needs to be grown in block together)

120 days to maturity – well that’s going to require special considerations. I have yet to grow them reliably here so buy them in the store J.





So there’s snow and ice and cold, dark long nights so now is a great time to start planning your garden.

About Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is a popular gardening method that utilizes maximum planting density (minimal area) using elevated boxes divisible into one-foot square areas. The boxes are 12” to two feet high and filled with rich compost/soil mixes. The elevated boxes are a maximum of four feet wide and since they are never walked on the soil is not compacted and is easily turned and worked.

Resource: [ http://mybackyard.ca/square-foot-gardening/ ]


The benefits to northern climates of the square foot gardening method are:

  • – Elevated boxes heat up faster – increasing growing season
  • – Easy to work/maintain due to loose soils.
  • – Small area helps with first frost covering.
  • – Boxes are easy to cover to extend growing season even more.
  • – Provides increased yields.
  • – Densely planted areas retain water better (self shading).


Each plant has a defined spacing (per square foot) as defined by locality or “the official rules” –  simply Google square foot rules “name of plant”.

Feel free to modify / experiment rules to work in your locality.

Determine your growing season.

The length of your growing season will directly affect what you can plant. It is also important to note what plants are frost resistant. In Thunderbay, according to Farmer’s Almanac, last frost date is June 1 and First Frost is September 15 which gives a 105 day growing season. Here in Nipigon my own personal observations put my growing season around 100 days, Greenstones is around 80. Usually any seed that has a Days to Majority equal to or less than your growing season is possible. Frost resistant plants can even be safe for another week or two. If the days to maturity is longer than your growing season there will have to be special considerations/methods used.

Resource: [ http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-canada ]


So what do you want to plant?

So you know what your growing season is now the fun part, picking what you want to grow. Make a list of things you would like/eat.

Some standard garden fare would be bush beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers. Some not so common but enjoyable plants are turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, corn.

Utilizing any online seed catalogue (I use http://www.veseys.com/ ) you can simply go down the list and confirm if you can grow that particular vegetable. Some plants I have googled to obtain maturity times.


Resource: [ [Video] http://mybackyard.ca/excel-garden-planner/ ]


Seeds tend to become widely available locally in May and it is fun to shop for seeds and of course transplants have to be local so May is a great time to get out to the garden centers.


If you want to take the guesswork out of seed buying, try online shopping. January and February are the months to order seeds online.


Resource: [ https://www.veseys.com ]


Simply visit the wide variety of online seed stores, Vesseys is one of my favourites. Utilizing you plant counts from the design stage you can order away. Keep in mind, extra seeds will usually last years and still be viable. Always better to order more than not have enough.


Now sit back and do the research on all the things you can do to get ready for planting come spring, it beats going out in the cold and snow.


NW Outdoors Logo FINAL_s

This article is from
Northwest Ontario Outdoors Magazine.
Free downloads and outdoors resources.