Chinook Landscaping and Design – Landscaping Calgary Specialists
Calgary, Alberta
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20 Feb 2020

When to start tomato seeds in Calgary?

Tomatoes are some of the most nutritious of the fruit and vegetable family and they can be grown quite easily in Calgary’s climate.  It is interesting and fun to grow your own organic vegetables in Calgary and we all know they typically taste better than anything you can buy in a store. A tomato is a fruit you can grow in Calgary with just a little TLC. Knowing when to start tomato seeds in Calgary is key to making sure your plant is ready to move outdoors in spring.   The key to a good yield from your tomato plants is to make sure they are planted at just the right time in spring.  If you do not want to buy your tomato plants in pots from your local garden centre then you may want to consider starting your tomatoes from seed.

Use a good quality soil for your tomato seeds.

It is very important to start your tomato sees off right and the best way to do that is to use a good quality soil.  The best soil mixes include vermiculite or perlite, peat moss and organic garden soil.  You can create a good mix of these three components at home or you can buy a ready mixed soil from your local garden centre. The easiest way to obtain the soil is to buy it already in the seed pod in the container.  Once you have your soil ready you can fill small seed trays or pods with the soil.    Plant the tomato seeds about a quarter inch below the surface.

Choose a proven tomato seed

It goes without saying that you should make sure you choose a proven tomato seed. Proven winners can be found by searching varieties on the internet or visiting your local garden centre and speak to someone there who knows their tomatoes.  You can choose from many tomato types including large beefsteak tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.  Cherry tomatoes produce more fruit obviously but they are smaller.  The higher amount of single fruit means you can almost always check on your plants and have a fresh tomato ready to enjoy.  Young children especially love picking cherry tomatoes.  Tomato seeds are not expensive and some great varieties can even be found on

Tomato seeds germinate and grow best under grow lights.

Having a grow light gives your tomato seeds a great head start and the grow lights will provide not only nurturing light to your tomato plant but a warm soil will encourage your seed to sprout quickly. So when to start tomato seeds in Calgary?  Tomato seeds should be started in late February or early march.  Starting your tomato sees at this time will give them a great head start for spring planting outdoors.  When to start tomato seeds in Calgary also depends on whether you plan to use grow lights or not.  Grow lights are recommended even if you have a fairly sunny window because the daylight hours in Calgary are so short in winter and spring.  You can purchase grow lights at many garden centres and other suppliers in Calgary.  It is best to keep your grow lights on for a minimum of 18 hours.  Keep your grow lights about 4 to 6 inches from the soil.  Tomatoes grow best when the temperatures is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  You may want to cover your tomato seeds for the first few days to retain the moisture in the soil.

When to transplant your tomato sprouts to containers

Once your seeds have germinated and reached a height of 1 1/2 inches its time to transplant your tomato sprouts to containers.  This is the most enjoyable part of your tomato growing experience.  You now have a living plant to tend to and watch grow!  Transport your tomato sprouts to 6″ pots.  You will not need to transplant them bare root, rather you can simply take the whole soil mass out of the container and transplant directly into the new soil in the new pot.  Try not to disturb the root system if at all possible.  Continue to place your tomato plants under grow lights and keep the light on them for 18 hours.  The best temperatures for tomato plant growth is 72-80 degrees in the daytime and 65-70 degrees in the evening.

Transplanting your tomato plants to the garden

You could choose to grow your tomatoes in planters or pots but they do now best when their roots are allowed to drain properly and in soil where their roots can grow deep.  Modern patio ideas do include some attractive deep planters you can consider. Tomatoes do best when planted in deep well draining planters or planted right into the ground.  Transplanting your tomato plants to the garden should only be done once you are sure there will be no risk of frost.  In Calgary, the best time to plant your tomato plants is after the May long weekend.  This time of year usually signals the end of frosty nights Calgary.  If you think a frost may occur after this you can cover your tomato plants with plastic or a tarp making sure not to damage the foliage.  You can plant your tomato plants amongst other trees and shrubs but make sure the tomatoes are not crowded in you shrub beds and that they will receive enough light. Landscaping in Calgary often includes a productive vegetable and/or fruit garden.

If you read when to start tomato seeds in Calgary you will know that February and March are the best months to do this. If you planted your seeds at this time your tomato plant should be over 12 inches tall and ready to plant in your outdoor garden.  Make sure to prepare your garden soil properly and don’t just plant your tomatoes in old silty or poor soil.  To enrich your soil and prepare it for planning loosen up the soil first with a pitchfork.  You will need to dig the soil area about 16″ x 16″ and 18″ deep.  If your soil has poor drainage you can add some pea gravel at the bottom of the hole.  Enrich the soil by adding some good quality garden mix that contains compost, peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.  Plant your tomato plant with the top of its root ball about one inch below the surface and make sure to pack the soil very well around the root ball.  Packing the soil with help the plant retain moisture and make the plant stock sturdier in windy conditions.  Stake your tomato plant or add a tomato ring.  A stake or tomato ring will help keep the plant upright and less stressed.  This will be especially helpful once the tomato begins to bear the heavy tomato fruit.  Fertilize your tomato with a good quality tomato fertilizer.  You may need to do this as much as once a week but be careful not to over fertilize.

Enjoy your fresh tomatoes by mid to late July all the way up until late September.  We hope you enjoyed reading when to start tomato seeds in Calgary.  Enjoy!



10 Apr 2019
fruit you can grow - cherry tree with big red berries

Fruit you can grow in Calgary

Calgary is not exactly California when it comes to growing conditions but there are still a number of tasty fruit you can grow here.  When it comes to Fruit you can grow in Calgary you will want to choose plantings that give you the best yield for the area you are using to grow them in.  Also, choosing crops that are native to the prairies is your best option to ensure minimal winter kill.  Here is a list of our favourite fruit you can grow in Calgary.


Growing strawberries in Calgary is actually quite easy if you plant your strawberry beds properly.  Strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat and you will commonly see them in most top 10 lists for most nutritious fruits in the world.  Strawberries are tasty when eaten fresh and they freeze will so you can enjoy them year round. Growing strawberries in lush wide mats by letting them runner is a great way to increase yield.  Also, picking the white buds in the first year will help increase plant strength and running of the baby plants.  If you don’t have the space you can grow your strawberries in hanging pots, hay bales or other containers.  Visit our Growing strawberries in Calgary page for more.


Saskatoons are another very healthy fruit that is high in fibre and super nutritious.  Saskatoons do best in areas where there is a lot of sunlight.  They love to soak up the sun and the more sun they have the more sweet the berries will be.  You will need a larger area for your Saskatoon bushes in order to have a lot of plants with high yield.  A good location for
Saskatoons would be at the sides or back of your property where full sun is available. Saskatoons need planting of water and the more you water them the more fruit they will produce.   Saskatoons bushes can grow well as hedges but don’t plant them too close to the street or your neighbours will reap the rewards of all your hard work!

Eating Apples

Eating apple trees are in abundance in Calgary and new varieties from growers means more yield.  Apple trees not only create great eating fruit by they have beautiful spring blossoms for you to enjoy.  Of all the fruit you can grow in Calgary, apple trees will likely be your greatest producer.  You are likely to have plenty of left over apples and these can be used for Apple sauce, Apple pies and many other deserts that can be preserved over winter by freezing them.
There are many great eating apples including the best eating apples to grow in Calgary include Honey Crisp and Parkland.

Haskap Berry

The haskap is incredibly hardy and built for Calgary’s climate.  Often called a Honeyberry, these prairie hardened plants can survive temperatures colder than -50c.  The Haksap berry bush can grow to 7 -9 feet, they produce a lot of fruit and are very high in fibre.  Native to  Europe and Asia, the Haskap is used to very harsh climates.  Haksap berries look similar to oval blueberries.   The berries have their own unique taste that is a cross between blueberries and cranberries.  This is a wonderfully unique fruit that will surprise you with its hardy rich cast.  Like Saskatoons, you will need to find a sunny place in your yard to grow the Haskap bush.

Evans Cherry

If you like semi sweet tart cherries then you will love the Evans Cherry.  These cherry trees have prolific flowers in the spring and produce an abundance of juicy cherries.  Plant your Evans cherry tree in a sunny location to ensure the best yield.  They do not like soil that is overly moist so make sure the chosen location is not on a low area of your yard.  Evans Cherry can be planted in groupings if you have the room for that. They are a wonderful ornamental style tree that will give you beautiful colour in spring and bountiful crops in late summer.  Evans cherry are one of our favourites on the list of fruit you can grow in Calgary.  They are nutritious, plentiful and delicious.


See our article in Avenue Magazine for more information on Fruit you can grow in Calgary.