Gardening: what kind of variety should I grow?

“In a relatively short period of prairie growth, it’s important to look for early-maturing varieties.”

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How do you choose which kind of vegetables or flowers to grow in your garden? In the garden seed market, unless you grow varieties of hereditary vegetables or flowers, the varieties that can be grown are constantly changing.


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Government programs and research institutes sometimes conduct variety experiments to determine which plants perform best in their area. The nearest program available to Saskatchewan gardeners is the North Dakota State University Home Garden Variety Trials:

All-American Selections (AAS) is also a crop that is worth growing in the garden. Offering a vegetable or flower as an All-American Selection means it’s a new cult that has performed well in many places in North America and is recommended for its above-average performance.

When looking for seeds, one of the first things you need to determine is how quickly the vegetable will be ready for harvest or how quickly it will bloom.

In the relatively short prairie breeding season, it is important to look for early-maturing varieties. Most seed packages or catalog descriptions show “days left to ripen” or “days left until harvest”. The number of days until maturity / harvest is the number of days between planting the seed or planting a small graft in the garden and harvesting the edible part of the plants. This number is based on heat unit accumulation. Heat units accumulate at temperatures above 10 ° C and below 30 ° C. Plant growth is very slow or non-existent if the temperature is below 10 ° C or above 30 ° C.

The “remaining days to ripening” in most seed catalogs and most seed packages are based on heat storage units in the southern latitudes and are inaccurate for our northern location. Although the frost-free season in downtown Saskatchewan is typically 110 days long, due to cooler temperatures in the spring and fall and many summer nights, the accumulation of our heat unit during these periods can be low.


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The other factor to consider when determining how fast a plant ripens is whether it is a warm or cold seasonal plant. Warm seasonal vegetables and flowers are the plants that come from a warm climate and are most easily damaged by the cold. Examples are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, autumn pumpkins, corn, eggplant, impatiens and zinnia.

Although the temperature is not frosty, these warm-season plants can suffer damage and growth damage at temperatures of 7 ° C or lower. On the other hand, vegetables and flowers used in the cool season, such as pansies, dumplings, sweet alissum, cabbage, radishes, spinach, brussels sprouts (along with other cabbage plants), leeks and beets, continue to grow (albeit slowly). below the temperature. above freezing. My experience is that warm-season plants that take more than 80 days to harvest (according to seed catalogs) don’t even reach the prairie season when planted. Cold seasonal plants that last over 100 days rarely reach Saskatchewan even when planted.

When choosing a new variety, the size of the area available in the garden should be taken into account. If you are growing in a container or have only a small garden space, look for varieties that are dwarf in size or recommended in a container for a small space. Are you new to gardening? For your first experience, choose plants that are easy to grow to be successful in your first year: marigold, petunia, cinnamon, spinach, peas, beans, and potatoes are relatively easy to grow.


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Carrot varieties
Carrot varieties Photo: Jackie Bantle /Photo attached

How much effort and time do you have to spend in your garden? If gardening time is limited, grow flowers that don’t need to be destroyed and vegetables that don’t need to be pruned. Peas, beans and cucumbers should be harvested every two to three days, while carrots, beets, potatoes and rutabagas should not be harvested until the end of the season. Melons and watermelons may only reach maturity if a garden cover and plastic ground cover are used in the garden, while pumpkins and autumn squash usually do not need to be covered during a typical growing season.

One of the most important things to look for when choosing a new flower variety is to make something attractive and long lasting. Always look for vegetables that are recommended for their taste and excellent texture. If you don’t want to watch it, or don’t want to eat it, what’s the point of doing all this work?

Happy seed catalog purchase!

This section is courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society. Visit the community at or visit their website at You can find them on Facebook at

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