What Days to Maturity REALLY Means (It's Not What You Think!)

Days to maturity... This cryptic term can be confusing and inaccurate, making you wonder where the seed companies pulled their figures from.

But there's a trick to using these numbers to your advantage so you can plan a more productive garden.

Here's the lowdown on what "days to maturity" and "days to harvest" mean for your seeds, transplants, and nursery plants.

First, what does maturity mean?

Plant maturity is a term used with annual flowers and vegetables to indicate when the plants flower or set fruit. When it comes to vegetables, however, maturity is not so well defined.

It is generally accepted that maturity is the point in which you can start picking vegetables, whether they’re ripened fruits (like tomatoes and eggplants), fully-formed but still tightly-closed flower buds (like broccoli and artichokes), or full-sized roots (like beets and radishes).

When do you start counting the days?

For seeds that are usually sowed directly in the soil, like corn and radishes, time to maturity is measured from the day the seed germinates to the day the plant is harvested.

For seeds that are usually started indoors first and then planted in the garden, like tomatoes and peppers, time to maturity is measured from the day you transplant the seedlings in the soil to the day you pick the first ripe fruit.

Even then, the timing can vary widely because one person might sow their seeds earlier, when the soil is cooler and day length is shorter, while another person might start their seeds later under more favorable conditions. And that leads to another important factor that affects days to maturity…

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