Skip the grocery store produce aisle, and grow your own vegetables in your Utah backyard. The state's cool climate--much of it is ranked as USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6--is prime for various cool-season crops like beans and kale, while its summers can accommodate warm-season crops like tomatoes and summer squash.
The average last spring frost date typically occurs between the end of May and the beginning of June in most areas of Utah. Start your vegetables as early as possible to take maximum advantage of the state's growing season. Cold-hardy vegetables like broccoli, peas and cabbage can be planted approximately six weeks before the last frost date in your area, according to Utah State University. Warm-season crops like tomatoes and cucumbers should be planted at least a week after the average last frost date in your area.
Utah gardeners can get a jump start on the growing season by starting vegetable seedlings indoors while it's still cold outside, then transplanting the vegetables into the ground once it warms up. Utah State University recommends starting vegetables approximately six to eight weeks before the expected last frost date in your area.
Specific varieties of common vegetables have been bred to thrive in Utah's soils and climate. Growing such varieties reduces the maintenance needs of your garden. For example, Blue Lake and Slenderette bush beans do well, as do Cylindra beets and Pioneer Hybrid carrots. Utah State University maintains a complete list of regional vegetable varieties (see References), or you can consult a local nursery or garden store for recommendations on what does well in your area.
Irrigation requirements in Utah's gardens vary during Utah's growing season. The need for water reaches its peak from June through August and starts dropping in August to its low point in the winter, according to Utah State University. Generally, vegetable roots extend within the top 12 inches of soil, so this area should be consistently moist.
Cooler soil temperatures in Utah reduce the amount of nutrients that are immediately available to vegetable roots, according to Utah State University. This makes fertilization necessary to encourage proper vegetable growth and fruit production. The university recommends spreading 5 to 6 pounds of 16-16-8 or any other all-purpose garden fertilizer for every 500 square feet of gardening surface. Apply the fertilizer approximately 14 days before you start planting your Utah vegetable garden.
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