Choosing the right seeds will help you have success in your garden. We have a short and intense growing season in the Yukon. Garden stores carry a wide variety of seeds but not all will grow in the Yukon. Ensure that your are purchasing packs that will like the growing conditions up here. Some suggestions to get started are:
- Carrots - Varieties chantenay and nantes
- Radish - Varieties rudi and french breakfast
- Spinach - Bloomsdale
- Peas – Sugarsnap
- Turnips -Purple top or hakurei
- Kale - Summer kale blend or siberian
- Swiss chard - Rainbow or giant foordhook
- Mesclun mix- Fast and furious
- Beets -Cylindra
A seed packet is more than just a pretty envelope. It’s a miniature biography that reveals all a gardener needs to know to successfully grow the seeds it contains. The information differs from company to company, but most likely it will contain:
- A picture of the plant
- The name of the plant
- A plant description
- The price and weight of the package
- The packed for/sell by date
- The planting depth for the seeds
- The conditions the plant needs (ex. sun/shade)
- The average height of the plant
- The days to germination
- The days to maturity
- If the plant is able to be direct planted (direct sow)
- If the plant needs to be started indoors and transplanted
Thoughts to consider at the beginning of the season:
Do you buy starters and also plant a few seeds of your own to have a continuous crop?
Consider using the seed swap at the Yukon Government Department of Energy, Mines and Resources library seed bank, and/or learn about seed saving to save seeds to use in future years.
Watch the video above on “How to Read a Seed Package” by Peterson Garden Project
When to start planting
The best time to plant seeds directly in the garden is mid-May to mid-June, after the danger of hard frost has passed.
How to plant seeds
Check the seed package to see how deep you should plant your seeds. Some of the small ones can be sprinkled right on the soil surface. Larger seeds will need to be buried. Plant two seeds per cell (or pot). If both seeds germinate, pull one and let the other grow.
Planting seeds directly into the garden bed
There are some vegetables that can be directly planted into the garden generally any time after May 15. These vegetables include beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes and spinach. Read the seed packet for information on seed spacing and how deep the seeds should be planted.
Start with digging a furrow for your seeds with the side of a hoe or a stick. Try to keep the furrow an even depth.
Small seeds, like carrot and lettuce, can be shaken out of the seed packet by gently tapping it as you move along the furrow. This may mean the seeds are too closely spaced, but the seedlings can be thinned back to the correct distance after they have sprouted. It is important to thin crowded seedlings, otherwise the plants will grow together and become damaged.
Large seeds (peas, beans, chard) can be planted individually in furrows at the specified distance or in a line of holes poked with a stick or your finger.
What is a furrow? A long narrow trench in your garden bed. Planting in furrows allows for more uniform rows, which makes it easier for watering and weeding the garden.
Taking the time to space even small seeds removes a lot of thinning, thereby the plants grow undisturbed. As the first thinning is baby carrots, old farmers say it is worth the time and effort to space properly and carefully in the beginning.
After planting each row, cover the seeds with soil, press the soil down firmly and water the row. Some seeds can take a while to germinate, but if you haven’t seen sprouts within three weeks after planting, consider replanting the row.
Tip: Use store bought tags or popsicle sticks to mark your row with the name or variety of the vegetable and the date planted in the row.
How to plant potatoes and onions
In the North, potatoes and onions are not usually started from seed due to the short growing season. Onions are started from sets and potatoes from seed potatoes. Sets are basically small onions that can be planted like flower bulbs. A seed potato is a potato that has been grown to be replanted to produce a potato crop. You can cut the larger seed potatoes in half (or smaller) and as long as the piece of potato has one or more “eyes” it will sprout and develop into a full-grown potato plant. Small seed potatoes should be planted whole.
Onion sets can be planted in an outdoor garden bed once the danger of frost has passed. Just make sure to keep them covered with either plastic or gardening cloth to minimize the risk of getting onion maggots. Keep them covered until the end of June or beginning of July.
Potatoes need to be covered with soil as the green leaves emerge. This will help the potato plant grow bigger and produce more potatoes. A 4x4 post layer added to the top of the garden beds will give more space to add soil.