Growing vegetables in Idaho can be very successful. Because of the wide range of climate conditions, you must be careful to choose vegetables that are appropriate for your soil conditions, rainfall and temperature. The USDA hardiness zone map is an excellent source to help gardeners choose crops. Even though Idaho is famous for its abundant potato crops, you don't have to limit the variety of vegetables you grow.
Choose the best location for your garden by determining how large it needs to be to accommodate what you want to grow. A vegetable garden needs to receive at least six hours of sunshine daily and be free of weeds, rocks and tree roots.
Prepare the garden site by tilling the soil with a hoe when it is dry to a depth of 8-12 inches. Work in organic matter such as cow manure during the fall season at no more than 40 pounds per 100 square feet of garden space. This step will allow ample time for the manure to fully benefit the soil by improving its nutrients and drainage capacity by spring.
Decide the type of vegetables you want to grow by making sure they are appropriate for your particular USDA hardiness zone. The seed packaging will have this information clearly stated. Some good choices for most parts of Idaho are carrots, potatoes, corn, pole beans and tomatoes. Vegetables like these do well in rows at least 2 feet wide, while squash, cucumbers and lettuce do well planted in raised beds at least 6 inches tall. Keep in mind that you need to be able to maneuver the area while pulling weeds or harvesting your vegetable.
Plant your vegetable seeds according to their type. For example, potatoes are considered half-hardy in resistance to frost, so plant no more than four weeks prior to the last frost for your area of Idaho. Squash, on the other hand, is considered very tender and not resistant to frost, so plant at least two weeks after the last frost. Squash seeds also benefit from raised bed planting, because it creates a warmer soil environment. Potatoes should be planted in 2-foot-wide rows with the plants least 10-12 inches apart.
Practice good pest control and watering habits. When your vegetable plants are young, they are susceptible to insects such as cutworms. Whether you prefer organic or conventional insecticides to rid your garden of these pests, keep a written record of the types of pests you encounter so that the next planting season you will know what to expect and can be proactive in preventing them. Water your vegetables per their individual requirements. This information is found on the seed packaging.
Remove weeds from your garden as often as necessary, because they will rob your vegetables of moisture and nutrients. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer if plants seem to need a boost. Typically, the organic matter worked into the soil prior to planting will provide more than enough nutrients for healthy growth.