Remember to Order Seeds

Even though the weather is cold and snowy, it’s that time of year again to start thinking about spring and your 2020 garden.

Now should be the time to decide what seeds you should order for the growing season, and get those orders in early.

“Some gardeners prefer to start some of the plants indoors rather than buying transplants at greenhouses or garden centers in spring,” said Richard Jauron, Department of Horticulture. “Crop times for flowers and vegetables vary from three to four weeks up to 12 weeks or more.”

Crop time is defined as the number of weeks from sowing the seeds indoors to planting outdoors. Click here for seed germination guidelines. Plants that are started late indoors and subsequently planted late outdoors won’t yield or perform as well as those that are planted at the optimal time, Jauron said.

buckets of green tomatoes.
If you order your seeds in January or February, you won't risk shipping delays. 

Vegetables, such as peas, radishes and lettuce, are direct seeded (planted) in the garden in early spring (April) in Iowa.  Jauron said that the largest number of seed orders that are received by seed companies typically arrive in March and April.  This often results in shipping delays and it usually takes longer for customers to receive their orders when placed in March and April. But orders placed in January and February are typically processed more quickly.

It is important to order seeds based on the amount of available garden space, plant/seed and row spacing and desired plant yields. You can see more of this information here. The viability of seeds declines over time, and the seed packet should indicate the year the seed was packed for sale. If stored properly, the life expectancy of vegetable seeds can be found here.

Each packet should have seed germination percentages listed, and if the seeds are planted correctly and environmental conditions are favorable, gardeners can expect those percentages.

Jauron said that it is usually best to start small and gradually increase the size of your garden as your skills increase.


Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on January 10, 2020. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.