Early Germination

As everyone knows, the weather in Calgary can be quite unpredictable! We are all familiar with the occasional snow and frost in April, May and sometimes June, which coincides with the start of our growing season. Due to the unpredictability of the weather, Grow Calgary tries ensure a top-notch growing season by germinating plants early in the greenhouses so that they are ready to plant once the weather starts to cooperate.


Weather isn’t the only determinate when deciding to germinate plants. The type of plant, availability of water and sunlight are also important, as well as soil temperature and number of frost days prior to seeding/planting.   

Some may be wondering what is early germination and how does it work? Well, germination is the process by which a plant grows from a seed. Germination starts when a seed is provided with water and the appropriate temperature. The uptake of water by a dry seed is call imbibition, and as the seeds imbibe the water, they expand and the dried enzymes and food supplies then become hydrated. Once the enzymes have been hydrated, they become active and the seed is able to increases its metabolic activities to produce the energy needed for the growing process. The most common example of germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed of an angiosperm (flowering plants that produce seeds within an enclosure AKA a fruiting plant – Example: a Rose) or gymnosperm (seeds develop on either the surface of scales or leaves, often in the form of cones – Example: conifers). 


For some dormant seeds, germination depends on a number of environmental factors, some of which include:

  • Water – Seeds are usually very dry and require a significant amount of water before cellular metabolism and growth can occur. Most seeds only need enough water to moisten them, but not enough to soak them.
  • Temperature – Affects the cellular metabolic and growth rates. Seeds germinate over a wide range of temperatures, most of which have a set temperature range that they will not germinate above or below this range. Annual vegetables have an optimal germination temperature of around 24 – 32 C, although some species (e.g. radishes or spinach) can grow at significantly colder temperatures.
  • Oxygen – Used in aerobic respiration, which is the main source of the seedling’s energy until it is able to grow leaves for photosynthesis. Oxygen is found in pore spaces. If the seed is buried too deep in the soil, or if the soil is waterlogged, the seed can become oxygen deprived. 
  • Sunlight – This can be an environmental factor, however most seeds are not affected by this.

Favourites like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini are just some of the vegetables that need to be germinated before planting due to their long and warm growing seasons. 


At Grow Calgary, we use mason jars filled with soil and water to early germinate the seeds. Once germinated they are transplanted into soil in the greenhouses until they are ready to be planted in the ground. 

Grow Calgary is looking forward to the upcoming growing season. Some of the vegetables that we will be growing will be:

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini 
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Green onions
  • Parsnips
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans 
  • Peas

We are always looking for new volunteers around the farm. If you are interested in helping with the early germination of some of these vegetables, contact us through our website at http://www.growcalgary.ca/ and click on the volunteer tab!