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Very Tender Vegetables

Very Tender Vegetables

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This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Hopefully the weather has settled and it is now safe to make the final plantings in the vegetable garden. Over the past couple of months, various columns have gone through the different classifications of vegetables based on temperatures and it is time to finish the spring planting.

The very tender vegetables are the last spring crops. These are, as the name implies, very susceptible to cold temperatures and will die with even the lightest frost. More importantly, they simply will not grow until both the soil and the air temperatures are warm enough.

While freak weather could still cause problems, it is usually safe to plant these crops between May 20th and June 10th. These crops including the melons come from tropical areas and need a long season to grow and mature properly. Some we use transplants because they are so difficult to start from seed and get them to mature properly. Plant them well after the last frost date because if they are planted in cool, wet soils, they never germinate or the transplants merely sit there and never grow.

Many season extending techniques help enhance the maturity of warm season crops. For many crops transplant will help but look for short, stocky plants that are dark green in color. Keep in mind that tomatoes, peepers and eggplants transplant readily while squash and melons are more difficult to transplant. Avoid large overgrown plants that are starting to produce long vines as they are stunted after they are planted in the garden.

Another favorite technique that I routinely use in my garden is to use clear plastic mulch as a season enhancer. I use three-foot wide strips of mulch down the rows and plant the seeds or transplants through the covering. The mulch is stretched tightly over the soil creating an ideal place to germinate the seed. Unfortunately, it also helps the weeds grow so plan on lifting the plastic and taking out the weeds on an as needed basis.

The sun shining through the clear plastic raises the soil temperature about ten degrees and enhances the maturity of the crop by some two to three weeks. In addition, crops grown under clear plastic have a much higher yield.

In spite of these difficulties, these are some of our tastiest and most popular vegetables. For more information on growing very tender vegetables check out my column in yesterdays Deseret News.

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