How to Garden Even When the Weather is Cool 1

Curly Parsley

In our area (the region where Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island meet), we could still experience frosty nights. While people sometimes think it’s too early to plant their gardens, there are plenty of plants who love spreading their roots in the cool soil at this time of year.

This is a great time to plant cold-hardy plants like:

  • Lettuce (our Lettuce Mix seed packets *)
  • Asian or mustard greens (like our Sweet n’ Spicy Mix seed packets * which is a blend of all our favourite Asian and mustard greens…..and we trial TONS of varieties!)
  • Arugula (plant the seeds out directly because they grow so fast….purchased arugula plants won’t often last long before starting to go to flower)
  • Kale (either from seed or you can buy plants at this time of year)
  • Parsley (best to buy plants at this time of year because they grow very slowly from seed….we start our seed in early March and are just planting them out now)
  • Chard (from seeds or you can buy seedlings)
  • Peas (best to plant the seed directly in your garden). We’ve been selling seeds of both snap peas (where you eat the whole pod) and shell peas (where you open the pod and eat the round green peas). *
  • Carrots (plant the seeds directly in the ground) Carrot seeds can take a while to germinate so make sure you keep the area moist after planting.
  • Radishes (plant the seeds directly in the ground)
  • Cilantro (plant seeds directly in the ground)
  • Dill (plant the seeds directly in the ground)
  • Beets (plant the seeds directly in the ground)

pea trellis

While frost-sensitive plants should be planted out after the chance of frost, it can be hard to determine when that will be (in the past few years, for us it has been anywhere from May 25 to June 9). Plants like tomatoes, peppers, basil, zucchini, winter squash and cucumbers are all frost-sensitive. If you do plant them in your garden and then see a chilly night coming up in the weather forecast, you could try covering these plants at night with a bed sheet to keep frost off. Just make sure to take the cover off in the morning so the plant gets the sunlight it needs.

Genovese Basil

Even though basil is a frost-sensitive plant, we start selling basil plants in early May because we know that many people prefer to keep them indoors near the kitchen.

The secret to getting a lot out of your basil plants is to pick leaves off to use regularly. That way the plant gets bushier and bushier rather than growing up tall and then setting flowers. To keep a basil plant producing longer as a house plant, it’s a good idea to transplant it to a larger pot as time goes on and it gets bushier to give the roots more space and to make it easy to give your basil plant more compost.

We’ve also been growing, not only seedlings of regular Italian basil, but also purple basil, and Thai basil.

We also grow seedlings of Sacred Basil (aka Tulsi or Holy Basil) which is more of a medicinal, tea herb that we enjoy as fresh tea all summer (just pluck the leaves fresh and pour hot water over them, let them steep for 5-10 minutes, and enjoy as is or with some honey) and as dried tea in the winter (we place leaves on a screen to dry in a spot that’s warm and dry).


As one of our favourite herb-growing books (The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer) says, “Tulsi is a heavenly adaptogenic herb that makes delicious teas, tinctures, and elixirs. The lore around tulsi is extremely beautiful and speaks to the holy nature of this “sacred basil.” As a tonic tulsi builds energy, is uplifting to the spirit, and brings a sense of wholeness and well-being. Tulsi, besides having a delightful flavour, is also good for releasing stress and easing anxiety and acts as an anti-inflammatory.”

Rainbow Chard

As the season progresses, we’ll bring other seedlings to market closer to the time when you should be planting them.  In a few weeks, we’ll bring tomatoes (24 varieties this year!….all tried and tested over the years by us to ensure they grow well in this region), peppers, ground cherries, zucchini, and winter squash.

*Note: We only sell our packets of seeds at the Dieppe Market on Saturdays.

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One thought on “How to Garden Even When the Weather is Cool

  • Leah

    Hi Shannon and Bryan,

    I run a small market garden in Winchester Ontario. I’ve been following you on Facebook and check out your site on occasion for inspiration. Currently, I’m working on a short women’s day presentation covering myself and what I do. Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for all of the sharing (photos and words). Hope you have a good season!

    With appreciation,