Updated: May 27
Knowing when to plant your vegetable garden in zone 3 Alberta can be a tricky question but it is one of the most basic of gardening questions. Today I will share with you my vegetable garden planting calendar for where I live near Calgary, Alberta.
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Indoor Alberta Planting Calendar
In late January to early March you will want to begin growing your plants for this year's garden by seeding your onions (if you choose to grow them from seed), leeks, celery and peppers and tomatoes. If you wait much later you will most likely have beautiful plants that won't have time to bear much fruit in your Alberta vegetable garden, or in other similar northern climates. If you do not want to start these plants yourself I would suggest picking them up at a local greenhouse in May.
For a full guide on when to start plants indoors for zone 3 gardening and to find your free printable indoor seeding calendar, check out When to Start Seeds Indoors.
In late April begin your squash, watermelon, cucumbers and brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) indoors. These should be planted in peat pots, (such as these ones from Amazon) or some use toilet paper rolls, as these plants do not like their roots being disturbed when they are transplanted. For transplanting make sure pots are good and wet and then cut the bottom off with scissors and plant the rest of the pot into the ground. The rest of the pot will decompose as the plant grow.
For the past couple years I have been experimenting with planting many of my garden vegetables earlier than I had previous years, aiming for the end of April vs. the third weekend in May as I had been doing. It is true that it in southern Alberta, we often experience snow and freezing temperatures over the May long weekend. Even so, many cool weather crops will withstand these temperatures and planting them early can add weeks to your growing season!
I have found that spinach especially likes the cold and can be planted outdoors as soon as your soil is workable. Yes, even if you are expecting more freezing temperatures and snow. Plant spinach in Alberta anytime in March or April for the best spinach crop.
Cool Weather Crops to Plant Outdoors in Alberta in Late April
You may risk the tops of the potatoes freezing, but even so the plant will send up more live shoots and I have found that they grow just fine.
Warm Weather Crops to Plant in Alberta After all Risk of Frost
Beans (direct seed)
Corn (if you are up for attempting it)
Squash of all other varieties
Even with waiting until late in May to plant these warmer weather crops, you will need to keep an eye on the temperature. Often in the foothills of Calgary Alberta where I am, the last frost is around June 10th. If it freezes and I have these warm weather plants out, I lose them if they are not covered.
Use a row marker, such as these from Amazon, to mark your rows.
If a late frost does happen, towels and blankets work as good covering options for those cool nights. Just put stakes in the ground to raise the blankets up from breaking your plants. For more ideas read Protecting Your Plants from Frost.
You will want to also read A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for tips on planing, planting and growing your northern vegetable garden.