Gardening is a wonderful way to get in touch with nature; this relaxing hobby encourages you to spend physical time outdoors and allows you to learn more about the plants and herbs you consume.
Thankfully, gardening is a near-universal activity that can be done almost anywhere, including in colder climates like Minnesota.
Due to our long and frigid winters, Minnesota gardeners typically have to wait for the right seasonal change in order to plant their gardens. Local gardeners find themselves doing research into whether certain vegetables work well in a cold-weather climate.
While many vegetables are difficult to grow during the state’s cold season, Minnesota offers a great variety of different vegetable growing options during its warmer seasons. It’s just a matter of figuring out the best-growing practices to use and which are the best vegetables to grow in Minnesota.
For most gardeners, the tomato plant is a wildly popular choice due to it being delicious and easy to grow. If you’re gardening in Minnesota, this is no exception. This nutritious red vegetable can be seeded indoors or outside. Though the tomato is technically a fruit, practically most would consider it a crossover into the vegetable realm.
March is a good month to start tomato seeds indoors. Tomatoes love the sun, so be sure to transplant your tomatoes in an area that receives at least eight hours of sunlight.
Kale grows SO well in Minnesota. It is the number one green vegetable staple of our garden here in Maple Plain, MN. It is also one of the best vegetables to grow in Minnesota, capable of surviving Minnesota’s cold weather patterns. This nutritious plant likes to grow in rich soil and aged compost. Make sure that the soil is kept moist with regular watering sessions.
Next on the list of best vegetables to grow in Minnesota is cucumbers. The cucumber is a common garden vegetable that Minnesota residents love to add to salads. This is a warm-weather crop that should be planted around May and harvested in July. Gardeners will need to find loose, sandy loam soil to plant cucumbers in. While cucumbers don’t need nitrogen-rich soil, they do need soil that is high in potassium and phosphate.
Cucumber plants do well when they are able to climb up from the ground, so plant the cucumbers near a fence, a cage, or a tall structure for vine growth. The best time to plant a cucumber is in late spring or early summer when the soil has warmed up somewhat. Cucumbers are usually ready to harvest in about 50 to 70 days which makes them ideal for Minnesota gardening.
Because of the rich soils in the Red River Valley area, Minnesota is able to produce more sugar beets than any other state in the country.
Beets are a cool-weather crop, capable of being planted as early as April. The seeds should be planted about half an inch deep into rich, nutritious soil. Beets need about six hours of sunlight a day before getting harvested during the summer.
When it comes to Minnesota gardening, both summer squashes and winter squashes are easy to grow; this plant just needs sandy soil with a pH of 6. The warm season is the best time to begin squash planting, especially between the months of May and June.
Your squash plant will need room for its vining to spread out, so be sure to give it space to grow. Squash is a popular choice in Minnesota because it doesn’t need a lot of attention.
6. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprout plants tend to thrive in cooler temperatures, particularly during the fall and spring, making it one of the best vegetables to grow in Minnesota. This slow-growing vegetable will take at least 26 weeks to produce. Unlike most plants, Brussels sprouts do not like a lot of sunlight, as it can actually hinder their maturity.
These plants require about one inch of water for every week of gardening. You can plant Brussels sprouts near aromatic herbs such as mint, oregano, rosemary, and sage. This plant is ready to harvest when it reaches about two and a half feet in height.
Cabbage plants are best when seeded indoors, taking up to three weeks before getting transplanted outdoors. This vegetable can grow anywhere from 60 to 180 days before reaching maturity. For Minnesota gardening, summer is usually the best time to plant cabbages. The seeds only need half an inch of depth for planting.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that prefers rich soil with a pH of six or seven. The plant should be dug under loose, moist soil that is about twelve inches deep.
Cauliflower should be covered in three inches of mulch, and it should receive plenty of water on a daily basis. These are fast-growing vegetables, taking about 50 to 100 days of blanching. You can tell when the cauliflower plant is ready to harvest when the head is about six inches in diameter.
It is recommended that this orange vegetable is seeded in an outdoor garden rather than indoors; transplanting carrots can be rather difficult. The best time to plant carrots is your Minnesota garden is during the months of April, May, June.
Carrots prefer to be sown in one-inch deep soil, about two to three inches apart from each other. The soil should be rich in potassium and phosphate. Carrots like to have about six hours of sunlight to grow. Typically, a carrot takes about 70 to 80 days to reach maturity. The carrot roots will be a vibrant green color and will sprout about one inch in diameter.
This leafy green vegetable is easy to grow in Minnesota, capable of sprouting during the cool season. Lettuce can be seeded outside and planted during the spring. It is best grown in cool, loose soil that is capable of drainage. Compost materials can improve the plant’s growing conditions. Lettuce doesn’t require a lot of sunlight, with four hours being the minimum amount of sun needed.
The radish is a cool-weather plant that thrives in the chilly weather patterns, which lands it on the best vegetables to grow in Minnesota list. This spicy, spherical vegetable is best planted from April to May during springtime.
Experienced gardeners will recommend that you plant radish seeds six inches deep into loosened, friable soil and then harvest after about five weeks of planting. When growing radishes, it is best to avoid heat, drought, or other extreme conditions that cause stress.
As a cool-season crop, spinach does well in Minnesota gardening conditions, especially during the spring and fall. Spinach craves moist soil that is full of nutrients like nitrogen. Spinach seeds should be planted outdoors, as indoor spinach plants can be delicate and difficult to transplant. Most spinach beddings only need four hours of sunlight to live. Spinach takes about four to six weeks to grow and should be harvested once the outer leaves grow six inches long.
The best time to plant an onion is in early spring when the ground is workable and well-drained. This vegetable thrives the most in nitrogen-rich soil. Onions want to have plenty of room to grow, so provide six inches in space for each planted onion. Onions take a long time to grow, usually requiring 100 to 175 days to mature, so onions may be a stretch for Minnesota gardening if you grow them from seed. Onion plants do not need a lot of water; just one inch of water twice a week will suffice.
14. Blueberry Bushes
While blueberries are difficult to grow in Minnesota (and yes, I know they’re not a fruit), it isn’t impossible and is best done in the northern half of the state where pine trees abound.
This fruit needs acidic soil with a pH level between four and five. A blueberry bush should be planted about 20 inches into the ground, away from weeds, trees, and other plants. Blueberries love sunlight, requiring at least six hours of sun per day. These plants can be placed in the spring and picked during June and August.
Benefits of Gardening in Minnesota
While gardeners do have to contend with a cold climate, there are still plenty of upsides to growing fruits and vegetables in Minnesota.
The state’s soil is able to hold a lot of moisture and organic matter, which is great for growing certain plants and tends to have better protection against erosion. Whatever vegetables you do decide to plant, Minnesota’s soils are more than capable of providing a rich bed growth.
Wrapping Up the Best Vegetables to Grow in Minnesota
Do you have a favorite vegetable that has been a success in your Minnesota garden? We’d love to hear about your choice of the best vegetables to grow in Minnesota.
Looking to upgrade your outdoor spaces at home? Then find inspiration for your Minnesota backyard with our landscaping ideas, outdoor furniture suggestions, gardening recommendations, and more!
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.