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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Clay > County Horticulture Educator > Articles > Time to order garden seed

Time to order garden seed

Vegetable seed catalogs have occupied a corner of my kitchen counter for a month.  Like most gardeners, I enjoy looking at each page and marking the ones that have potential to go into this year’s garden. Given the number of varieties available, making a decision can be a real challenge. Make the selection process easier by checking the number of growing days needed until harvest. Varieties of pumpkin, squash, and cucumber can be narrowed further if space is limited.

The number of days needed until harvest is an estimate of the number of days needed from planting (direct seed or transplant) until the crop can be harvested. Plants growing in cooler climates will take longer to mature. Generally speaking, vegetables growing in northern Minnesota and North Dakota will take longer to mature than what is listed in the seed catalog. A good rule of thumb in our area is to look for varieties needing 100 days or less to mature. This is especially true for winter squash, watermelon, and pumpkin. These plants usually require most of the growing season to produce mature fruit. 

Adequate space is often a barrier to growing plants such as squash, cucumber, and pumpkin. Vines of these plants can grow several feet. If space is limited, look for varieties that are listed as bush or semi-bush. These varieties usually require less space making them an excellent choice for small gardens. Some may be suitable for container planting.

Many gardeners start vegetable seed indoors, especially if they are growing tomato, pepper, eggplant, and early crops of broccoli and cauliflower. At this time it is too early to start these plants. Focus your attention on acquiring all the needed seeding supplies such as potting medium and containers.

If you would like more information on variety selection and seed starting, attend our upcoming gardening series.  If you have questions please call me at the University of Minnesota Extension office, Clay County at 218-299-5020, 1-800-299-5020 or email me at  Check out our website at 

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Randy Nelson
Extension Educator, Home Hort & Ag Production Systems
(218) 299-5020
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