What Vegetables Grow Best in a Canadian Short Season

Ah, the Canadian gardening season. A glorious burst of colour and flavour, punctuated by the ever-present threat of frost and that undeniable urge to cram every possible plant into our precious few warm months. BUT, while our growing season may be shorter than our southern counterparts, there are plenty of fantastic vegetables that thrive in this fast-paced sprint. Let's ditch the frustration for abundant harvests with some vegetables perfectly suited for the Canadian climate.

Early Birds Get the Greens:

The key to conquering a short season is to start early. Here are some leafy companions that practically leap out of the soil at the first hint of spring:

  • Leafy Greens Galore: Lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale are all champions of the cool-weather garden. Sow seeds directly outdoors as soon as the soil is workable (around April for most areas in Canada). You can enjoy these tender greens in salads and stir-fries throughout the spring and early summer.



Fast and Furious:

Some vegetables are like the Olympic sprinters of the garden world, maturing quickly and delivering a delicious harvest before the summer heat sets in:

  • Radishes & Beets: These vibrant root vegetables are perfect for impatient gardeners. Plant seeds directly outdoors as soon as the soil is workable, and you can be harvesting them in just 4-6 weeks!

  • Peas: These springtime classics come in shelling and snap varieties. Sow seeds directly outdoors as soon as the soil warms up (around April for most of Canada) and enjoy their sweetness fresh from the pod. Bonus points for the beautiful flowers that attract pollinators to your garden!

Masters of Succession:

Don't let your garden become a one-hit wonder! By practicing succession planting, you can maximize your harvest throughout the season. Here are some vegetables that excel in this strategy:

  • Bush Beans: These compact legumes are perfect for smaller gardens. Sow seeds every few weeks throughout the summer for a continuous supply of fresh beans.

  • Lettuce: Don't stop at one spring planting! Lettuce is a cool-weather crop that can be sown again in late summer for a fall harvest. Enjoy fresh salads well into October.

Heat Lovers with a Twist:

While some heat-loving vegetables might seem like a gamble in our short season, there are ways to make them work:

  • Tomatoes & Peppers: Start these tender vegetables indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Transplant them outdoors once the danger of frost has passed (usually around May or June depending on your location). Consider using Cedar Planters’ greenhouse covers to extend the season and protect your young plants from unexpected chills.



Don't Forget the Herbs:

A thriving garden isn't just about vegetables! Herbs add taste to your dishes and a touch of fragrance to your outdoor space. Here are some fast-growing and cold-tolerant options:

  • Cilantro, Parsley, Dill: These culinary workhorses can be sown directly outdoors as soon as the soil is workable. Enjoy their fresh flavour all summer long.

  • Chives & Mint: These perennial herbs come back year after year, providing a constant supply of flavour. Plant them in spring and enjoy them throughout the season.


  • Know Your Zone: Canada has a wide range of hardiness zones. Choose vegetables suited to your specific climate for optimal results.

  • Embrace the Unexpected: Canadian weather can be unpredictable. Don't be discouraged by a late frost or a heat wave. Learn to adapt and adjust your planting schedule accordingly.

  • Mulch Matters: Applying a layer of mulch around your plants helps retain moisture and suppress weeds, giving your vegetables a fighting chance in the short season.

The Final Bite:

With a little planning and the right plant choices, you can create a vibrant and productive vegetable garden even in a short Canadian season. So, grab your seeds, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to enjoy the delicious rewards of your own backyard bounty!

1 comment

  • inno

    great info thanks again. i will keep on reading. i live in montreal quebec so my father in law helps me planting in may. but yes you are right there can be a wave of frost
    Cedar Planters Canada replied:
    Hi there,

    Thanks for your comment. We appreciate you reading and learning a bit through our blogs. In case of frost, don’t forget that we carry winter covers to keep your soil, garden bed, and plants warmer throughout the wintertime!

    Best, Social Media Manager, Paula.

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