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Cucumber, squash, melon – start from seeds

Growing cucurbits is both fun and rewarding. Seeds germinate quickly – in 5 to 8 days – and the effect of these plants in the garden when they start to mature is wonderful. Perfect for gardening with kids!

In Québec, it isn't strictly necessary to get a head start on the season by starting seeds indoors, with the possible exception of musk melons; it will, however, save you a few weeks. Do not sow outside too early; cucurbits need heat!

Start your seedlings

In a heated greenhouse with grow lights: from the month of March.

  • Set the indoor temperature to 24ºC for germination.
  • As soon as small sprouts appear, turn the lights on for 15 to 18 hours per day.
  • When the first leaves appear, put your plants outside in an unheated greenhouse. Watch out for dips in night-time temperatures.

Without a greenhouse: direct sow in the garden in late spring when the soil is warm.

How to start seeds indoors:

  1. Choose peat pots so roots won't be damaged when you transplant seedlings into the vegetable garden.
  2. Fill pots with a mixture of potting soil and compost.
  3. Press in 1 or 2 seeds, 1 cm deep.
  4. Moisten the soil.
  5. Place pots in a warm, bright location.
  6. When 2 to 4 real leaves have opened, remove the weaker of the two seedlings. When there is no risk of frost, you can transplant to the garden.

Direct sow seeds only when the soil is warm and daytime temperatures are above 20º C.

How to start seeds in the garden:

  1. Loosen the soil to promote good root development.
  2. Sow 2 or 3 seed grains per hole, 1 cm deep.
  3. Space seed-holes 80 cm apart.
  4. Wait 15 days, then remove the weaker of the two or three plants per hole, leaving the strongest seedling.
  5. Tamp down the earth around the single seedling.

If you would rather bypass this step, many seedling varieties are available to buy in containers, ready to plant out.