Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions!

This entire page is dedicated to assisting you with some of our most common inquiries. These questions can range anywhere from what our online Shipping Policy is all the way to what the process of hardening off plants means.

To make things easier, we've taken these questions and added them to six generalized categories below. Simply click on the text that is relevant to your inquiry and you will be automatically taken to the section of this page that covers it.

What are GMO seeds? Does McKenzie Seeds sell them?

McKenzie Seeds does not sell, nor have we ever sold Genetically Enhanced Seeds. Genetic modification of plant cells has been practiced quite extensively within the field of Agriculture. This is where much of the recent media attention on Genetic Enhancement of seeds has come from. As Canada’s packet seed leader, we are watching the developments within the Horticulture industry closely. As biotechnology progresses, McKenzie Seeds will monitor its impact on the environment, health, and other areas of concern.

Does McKenzie Seeds use Neonicotinoids?  

McKenzie Seeds does not sell, nor have we ever sold any seed treated with neonicotinoids, or neonics for short. The impact of this class of chemical on pollinating insects such as honey bees and native bees is a cause of concern. This is why McKenzie Seeds has not and will not use neonicotinoid chemicals at any time.

What are Organic seeds?

100% certified organic seeds are harvested from plants grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides and harbor no residues from these chemicals. Organically grown seed produces hearty, robust plants already adapted to organic growing conditions.

What's the difference between a Hybrid and an Open-Pollinated plant?

A hybrid seed comes from a cross between two different varieties to obtain a certain set of characteristics. (Saving seed from a hybrid plant is not recommended – you will not be able to grow the same plant because the seed from a hybrid plant will have a different mix of the parent plants’ genes.) An open-pollinated variety holds on to the parent’s characteristics generation after generation. This is important, if you want to save seed.

What is an Heirloom variety?

Heirloom varieties are seeds that have been saved from generation to generation. They are open pollinated meaning that they rely on natural pollination from wind and insects. Usually varieties referred to as heirloom have been around for more than 50 years and offer a wonderful history in the names and flavors that continually provide dependable quality season after season. The seed from heirloom plants can be saved at the end of the season to be used again the next year.

How to prepare and plant a garden?

First things first - read the packet!

The seed packet provides valuable information. The front of the packet lets you know if the crop is an annual or perennial if it needs to be planted in sun, shade or part sun and the number of days until blooms appear or the number of days to harvest for vegetables and herbs. The back of packets lays out if the seeds should be started indoors or can be planted directly outdoors, when to plant, the number of days until seeds germinate, how deep to plant seeds, how far apart to space seeds, plant spacing, plant height of flowers and row spacing for vegetables and herbs. That is a lot of information!

Before planting, know when each crop should be planted. Refer to the back of the seed packet for this information. Plan where each crop will be planted. For example, consider which crops require shade and which are tall so they do not shade shorter plants.

Choose a site that has good drainage and receives a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. The best way to ensure successful seed germination is to use well-cultivated, loose soil that is evenly moist. Soil that remains wet can lead to damp roots, which may eventually rot. In the case of rocky soil, it is advisable to till and remove the rocks as they can hinder root development and result in weaker plants. Before sowing seeds, it is imperative to ensure that the planting area is free from weeds. Failure to do so will result in weeds competing with the plants for water and essential nutrients.

Soil composition
Plants grow best in a light, loamy, well-draining soil high in organic matter. Healthy garden soil produces robust plants more resistant to pests and disease. Organic material plays a vital role in enhancing soil quality. It can improve the drainage of heavy clay soil, making it easier to dig and less compact. Additionally, it aids in binding sandy soil together, promoting better moisture retention and nutrient availability. Before planting, it is recommended to incorporate a few centimetres (inches) of compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage. Loosen the soil to a depth of 15-20 cm (6-8") before planting. After loosening the soil, mix in 5-10 cm (2-4") of well-rotted manure, or compost. If large quantities of compost or manure are not readily available, consider purchasing alternatives from retail centers. These options include peat moss, composted sheep or cattle manure, top soil, and compost.

Plant in rows. Do not randomly scatter seeds. Planting in rows makes it easier for weeding and to identify where you have planted. Once seeds are planted, firm the soil to provide the seed with good contact with the soil. Gently water newly planted seeds so they do not wash away or clump in the same spot. Use a fine, gentle spray or a trickle from a garden hose. It is a good idea to use plant labels to identify what and where you planted as it is easy to forget. Ensure that the soil remains damp until the seed begins to sprout. Providing water to the seeds is critical. Do not allow the soil to become dry, as young plants have underdeveloped roots and can quickly dehydrate, particularly in windy conditions.

When your seedlings reach a height of a few centimeters (inches), it is important to thin them out to achieve the proper spacing. If you neglect this step, your plants will lack the necessary space and nutrients to thrive, and they will become overcrowded.

Late frosts
If there is a risk of frost after the seeds have sprouted, you will need to protect (cover) the seedlings from freezing. A bedsheet works great for this purpose. Remove the coverings in the morning.

By using patience and nurturing your plantings, you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest.

What is Crop Rotation?

Crop rotation is one of the oldest and most effective strategies to control potential gardening problems. It is as simple as planning to plant a selected crop in the east end of the garden and then the next season, plant it on the west side of the garden. Plants that follow should be from a different family than the previous one. It is ideal for most crops to wait 3 years before planting in the original area. Moving crops to different areas of the garden each year provides many advantages such as maintaining soil fertility, reducing soil erosion, prevents diseases and pests, helps to control weeds and reduces reliance of synthetic chemicals.

What is Hardening Off?

All transplants need to be hardened off prior to planting out in the garden.  Hardening off helps to prevent transplant shock which can stunt or delay growth. Extreme transplant shock will result in plant death.  Approximately one week before planting outside, the hardening-off process is started. Gradually acclimatize the transplants from a warm, comfortable indoors to the cool, windy outdoors. Before starting the hardening-off process, it is recommended to wait until the outdoor temperatures reach a minimum of 7°C (45°F). Place seedlings outside for an hour or two in the mid to late afternoon, ensuring they are shielded from wind and direct sunlight. Progressively increase the amount of time your seedlings spend outdoors. Each day, add an hour to their outdoor time, gradually exposing them to more sunlight and wind. Continue this process until they can withstand an entire night outside. If there is a risk of frost, seedlings should be brought indoors or covered with a frost-proof cover. Throughout the hardening-off period, it is crucial to keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Once seedlings have been hardened off, they are ready to transplant outdoors.

What is Deadheading?

This means removing dead flowers once they have finished blooming and thus extending the flowering life of the plant. Your plant will thank you for taking the time to “clean it up” by producing many more flowers over a longer period of time. Check your plants while watering to see what ‘maintenance’ is required – usually a few minutes before or after watering to remove faded flowers or seed pods can help keep plants looking beautiful!

Why should I start seed indoors?

Starting seeds indoors is an excellent way to get an early jump on spring. It gives your vegetables, herbs, and flowers a head start so they can grow larger and have better (and longer) harvests or flowering periods. For best results, follow the planting instructions on the back of the packet.

Choose a “soil-less” growing medium. Select a container at least 5 cm (2”) deep with ample drainage holes and a lid. Fill this with the pre-moistened seed-starting mix made for germinating seeds. If using a Jiffy greenhouse with peat pellets, follow the preparation instructions on the packaging. Do not use garden soil for starting seeds. Its density can become compacted and interfere with drainage. It can also contain weed seeds and diseases that are detrimental to seed germination.

How to Plant
Plant the seeds to the depth and spacing as indicated on the seed packet. Place 2 seeds in each cell. Some seeds need exposure to light to germinate and should be planted on the surface of the soil. Other seeds may require to be covered with a layer of soil. This will be indicated on the seed packet. If both seeds germinate in a cell, keep the stronger of the two and snip the other one.

Once the seeds have been planted, moisten the newly planted seeds with a mister and place the tray in a location that receives indirect sunlight. To speed germination and retain moisture, cover the seed starting tray with a lid. Consider using a Jiffy heat mat under the tray. Its purpose is to facilitate the process of germination and encourage the development of roots by maintaining an ideal temperature for growth and sprouting. The ideal room temperature for seeds to germinate is 15 to 24 C (60 to 75F). Once seeds have germinated and you see leaves, remove the lid to allow air to circulate and discontinue use of the heat mat. If grown on a windowsill, turn the tray daily to encourage straight seedlings. Aim to provide seedlings with 12 to 16 hours of light each day for best results. Low light levels will lead to thin, leggy seedlings stretching for light. If it's not possible to provide this duration of light, consider using a Jiffy grow light. Place the grow light approximately 15 cm (6”) from the top of the plants and adjust its height as the seedlings grow. Do not leave the light on 24 hours a day. Plants need a light-dark cycle to develop properly.

Damping Off
To ensure the healthy growth of the seedlings, it is important to maintain the moisture of the soil without making it overly saturated. It is crucial to prevent the planting medium from drying out or sitting in water as this can result in damping off disease, a rapid fungal infection that can be fatal for young plants. To minimize the risk of damping off disease, do not water seedlings from above, rather, water the containers from beneath so water is soaked up the the roots from below. This is known as ‘bottom watering’. Drain away any excess water. Allow the soil to partially dry before watering again. This technique helps to keep the newly formed roots moist while minimizing the risk of wetting the upper leaves, which could lead to rot. Ensure proper air circulation once the seedlings have emerged and develop strong plants with the use of a fan.

The initial leaves that sprout from seeds are known as cotyledons. They will have a different appearance from the fully grown plant's leaves. The next set of leaves that develop are the ‘true leaves’. It is now time to start fertilizing with a plant starter fertilizer such as 10-52-10 at one-quarter the label strength weekly. SUPERthrive Vitamin Solution is a liquid concentrate derived from Kelp. It promotes root development, reduces transplant shock, and builds plants' vigor. When the seedlings reach a height of 5 cm (2”), or a set of four true leaves, transplant the seedlings into larger containers. The transplants often droop or wilt after transplanting, however will recover quickly. Keep in good light and moist. Before transplanting your plants outdoors they need time to adjust—this process is called hardening off.

Why and how should I fertilize my plants?

One of the easiest ways to fertilize is to mix in a granular fertilizer to the soil before plants are set in which fertilizer is slowly released throughout the growing season. You can also add supplemental feedings through the use of water soluble fertilizers throughout the season for larger plants that require more than the granular can keep up with. Otherwise make sure to add a good plant starting fertilizer immediately after planting and continue with fertilizing once a week during the first 3 weeks after planting to help the plant get established. Throughout the season the use of an all purpose fertilizer (20-20-20) added into your watering can once a week will work best in most cases and will help plants produce lush greenery and beautiful flowers.

Back to Questions

How to transplant seedlings outdoors?

After all danger of frost is past and seedlings have been hardened off, plant seedlings outside into the garden or container.  Soil (not air) temperature should be at least 15°C (60°F).  Prepare your garden by loosening the soil and removing any rocks and weed roots. Incorporate compost into the soil to enhance its fertility. The day prior to transplanting, water the planting area so it is moist, but not soggy.  Select a cloudy day, with very little wind to avoid exposing your seedlings to intense sunlight, as it can cause stress. Make the planting hole large enough to hold the plant with extra room to spread out the roots. This will promote the growth of strong roots. Before planting, very gently break up the root ball which aids the roots to spread into the soil as the plants grow. Be careful not to disturb roots too much when planting to avoid transplant shock. Position the seedling in the hole at a depth similar to its previous pot, making sure the entire root ball is is covered with soil. A teaspoon of bonemeal mixed into the planting hole will help promote root growth and development. Gently firm up the soil around the plant after planting. As soon as planting is finished, water and fertilizer with a 10-52-10 fertilizer. Keep seedlings moist but not too wet. If you live in a particularly dry climate, consider applying mulch around the seedlings to prevent moisture loss. Regularly monitor your plants and ensure that the soil remains moist, but not soggy while they establish themselves in their new environment. If planting seedlings into containers, use a good quality potting mix/soil. Do not use garden soil in containers as it is too dense providing poor drainage and aeration.

What is the difference between Indeterminate and Determinate Tomatoes?

There are two basic groups of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate, also known as “bush types”, set all their fruit in a shorter period of time, do not need to be pruned and grow well in a cage. No staking is required. Indeterminate tomato plants grow tall and are also referred to as “staking tomatoes”. They continue to grow and produce fruit all season long and should be pruned. Staking is required.

What is Succession Gardening?

Succession gardening means planting a second or third crop where another crop has finished – this way you can always be using your garden space for more fresh produce as well as preserving for the winter. Once early maturing plants have finished, plant a second crop in their place (to get ahead try starting plants in Jiffy peat pots). After your second planting has been harvested you can usually plant a cool weather crop for late season enjoyment. The key is to check on the seed packet for the days for germination and maturity, add them together and then check the number of days back from a likely first frost date for your region to make sure you allow enough time for your next planting to mature. Most greens (lettuce, kale, endive, spinach), radishes, bush beans, and peas can be planted mid summer and harvested in the fall for regions with a September/October first frost date.

What are Cool Season / Warm Season Crops?

Many types of flowers, herbs and vegetables can be sown directly into the garden and do not need to be started indoors. Of those, some are considered cool season crops and others warm season crops.

Cool season crops require a minimum average soil temperature of 4° to 10°C (40-50°C) for planting, and an average air temperature range of  15-29°C (15-29°F) (optimal is 21°C (70°F) for sustained growth. The maximum air temperature for cool-weather crop productivity is 86°F (30°C), above this temperature, cool-weather crops will bolt—meaning flower and set seed–or quit growing.  Cool-season crops are usually tolerant of light frosts of 0°C (32°F).  Seed can be sown as soon as the soil can be worked (2 to 3 weeks before the last frost).

Examples of cool-season vegetables are arugula, asparagus, beets, broad beans (fava), broccoli, brussels sprouts, chives, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, endive, swiss chard, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion, parsley, peas, potatoes, radish, rutabaga, spinach, swiss chard and turnip. The majority of crops are harvested and completed in the vegetable garden before the onset of summer's intense heat. Although a few cool-season vegetables can withstand warmer temperatures, the overall quality of the produce tends to decline. They are less likely to bolt (go to seed) as they do during hot summer days. Certain cool-season crops yield higher-quality produce with better flavor when exposed to freezing temperatures as some of their starch converts to sugar. Cool-season vegetables that have short days to maturity can have additional crops planted (known as succession planting) in 2 to 3-week intervals to extend the harvest season. Cool-season flower seeds such as calendula, bachelor buttons, pansies, rudbeckia, snapdragon, stock, and sweet pea seeds can be sown 1 to 2 weeks before last frost. Cool-season herbs such as chamomile, cilantro, chervil, chives, parsley, sage and thyme thrive in lower temperatures as they reach full growth, but their seed germinates faster in warmer soil. To expedite the germinating process for cool-weather herbs, it is recommended to soak them in water overnight before sowing. Additionally, covering the seedbed with clear plastic can assist in warming the soil. As soon as you see growth, remove the plastic.

Warm Season Crops
Warm-season crops grow best in warm weather and their seed should be sown once all danger of frost has passed. Seeds will only germinate if the temperature of the soil is sufficiently warm. If the seed is planted too early it may rot in the ground. They require a minimum soil temperature of 16°C (60°F) with 21 °C (70°F) being ideal. The best air temperature is between 18-30°C (65 to 86°F). Warm-season vegetables are killed by frost and suffer when the air temperature goes below 50°F (10°C). They will stop growing and go dormant when the air temperature is greater than 32°C (90°F) and will resume growth when temperatures drop.

Examples of warm-season crops are snap and dry beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, New Zealand spinach, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, watermelon and zucchini. Some flower seeds to plant after the last frost include cosmos, marigolds, morning glories, sunflowers and zinnias. Warm-season herbs are basil, dill, lavender, mint, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

When should I water?

If your plants are planted in the ground instead of a pot, the general guideline is to provide 2.5-5 cm (1-2”) per week, which includes both water you provide as well as rainfall. However, this does not mean watering once a week, as that is usually insufficient. The optimal approach is to water plants deeply about three times per week, taking into account any rainfall. For newly planted seedlings, it is recommended to water them twice a day until they are established. Assess the moisture content of the soil by feeling it. If the soil sticks together and can be formed into a ball in your hand, it is adequately moist. Conversely, if it barely holds together or appears dry, hard, baked, or cracked on the surface, it is likely dry and in need of watering. Another method is to use a trowel to dig about 5 cm (2”) deep. If the soil is completely dry, you should water it. Ideally, it is recommended to water your plants early in the day while there is still dew on the leaves. This allows the foliage to dry off by evening. Avoid watering during the midday to prevent water loss through evaporation. Mulching is an effective method for conserving water. Organic mulches help minimize the evaporation of moisture from the soil surface, and their ability to keep the soil cooler also reduces water loss through transpiration (the evaporation of water from a plant's leaves, stem, or flowers). Apply a generous layer of 2.5-5 cm (1-2”) of mulch directly onto the soil surface, without mixing it into the soil. It is important to replenish mulches that have been in place throughout the entire growing season. Types of mulches include shredded wood, wood bark, shredded leaves, grass clippings, and straw. Incorporating mulch has the bonus of suppressing weeds.

How do I harvest flowers for a floral arrangement?

One of the best things that can brighten up a room is a vase of fresh flowers.

To prepare, you will need clean, sharp shears to prevent diseases and minimize damage to the plants. You will also need a clean pail filled with room temperature water to place the harvested cuttings. The ideal time to harvest flowers varies depending on the species of the plant. Some flowers should be cut while they are still in the bud stage, while others are best harvested when they have fully bloomed. For specific information on the recommended stage of growth for harvesting, please refer to the individual product pages. 

Cut the flowers early in the morning or in the evening when it has cooled off. Follow the stem you want to pick until you reach the main stem and cut at the intersection. Make precise cuts at a 45-degree angle since it provides the stem with the largest surface area possible, allowing it to absorb more water. After cutting, immediately place the stems into the pail of water. Let them sit for a few hours to hydrate before transferring them to a clean vase filled with fresh water. Remove any foliage below the waterline before arranging the flowers in the vase. This is important because leaving foliage in the water could cause it to rot and harm your flowers. Also, make sure to use room-temperature water in your vases. As a general rule, heavier flower arrangements should be kept in a short vase with short stems, giving the flowers more room to bloom. On the other hand, a lighter selection of flowers can be placed in a taller vase since they take up less room as they grow.

After harvesting, cut flowers thrive in a cooler environment. Avoid keeping them in areas that are too warm and humid. Bacteria thrive in stale water, so it is best to replace the water in the vase every two days. Each time you change the water, you'll also want to give your vase a good clean with warm soapy water, followed by a good rinse to ensure all the soapy residue is off before putting your flowers back in. Before refilling, trim the stems slightly at an angle to improve water absorption and remove any leaves that may be submerged to prevent water contamination.

What is your shipping policy?

For a limited time free shipping over $35+

All orders are shipped within 2 business days of purchase via Expedited Canada Post. All orders will arrive within 7-10 business days from purchase. Pre-order purchases will ship out during the outlines window of the pre-order. Please see Shipping & Returns for more information.

Do you ship internationally?

At this time, we only ship orders to Canada. We cannot process international orders.

Limitation of Liability

In keeping with the custom of the seed trade, McKenzie Seeds shall not be liable for more than the purchase price of the item. McKenzie Seeds does not cover return shipping costs.

Can I purchase a gift card for McKenzie Seeds? 

Yes, gift cards can be purchased here. Gift cards are delivered via email immediately upon purchase. Our gift cards have no additional processing fees and never expire.

Will out of stock items come back in stock? 

Once an item goes out of stock, it is not likely to come back in stock until the next growing season. Our website is the best place to check for the most up-to-date information about available stock.

I received the wrong product 

Your satisfaction is important to us, so we want to hear from you when we make mistakes. If you have received an order in error, please let us know by calling 1-800-665-6340 and we will do our best to correct it.

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