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Cool Season Vegetables

Cool Season Vegetables

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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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

With a little luck of the Irish or a little help from Saint Patrick, cool season vegetable planting time is here. Early planting hopefully will make you the envy of the neighborhood as you are harvesting the early season fruits of your labors.

Part of the success of growing high quality vegetables is planting them at the right time. To facilitate planting at the right time, divide vegetables into two different categories based on temperature. These are cool season vegetables and warm season vegetables.

In these broad, cool and warm classifications, vegetables show differences in their ability to withstand freezing or excessively warm temperatures. These categories are hardy, semihardy, tender and very tender. The deciding criteria are the temperature that the seed germinate at and the temperature at which they grow best.

Cool season vegetables can withstand light frosts with minimal damage. This classification is based on the ability of the seeds to germinate at low temperatures and the young seedlings can withstand frost.

Cool season vegetables germinate at minimum soil temperature of 40F with an optimum temperature of 65 to 75F. Air temperatures in the same range allow cool season vegetables to grow well. Cool season vegetable growth slows down with warm summer temperatures.

Warm season crops grow best with warm temperatures. They are divided into tender or very tender vegetables. Warm season crops stop growing when exposed to cool temperatures and die if temperatures drop below freezing. Warm season vegetables require minimum temperatures of 55F and optimum temperatures of 75 to 85F for best germination.

Cool temperatures are essential for germination and growth of the hardy and semihardy vegetables but they are also essential for good flavor and texture. If these vegetables grow and mature when it is too hot, they are tough and have a bitter taste.

The hardy vegetables are the first to be planted in the spring. Many are planted as soon as you can work your garden soil. Because most soils are drier than normal, take of advantage of the chance to plant earlier.

To see when you can work the soil in the spring, do this simple test. Dig a handful of soil from below the soil surface. Squeeze the soil into a tight ball with your hand. Toss it gently into the air. If it comes apart when you catch it, you can till the soil and plant the vegetables.

For more information on cool season vegetables, read my article in tomorrows Deseret News. For a listing of recommended vegetable varieties from Utah State University check my website at

For directions on how to treat your garden seed with a fungicide check the same website.

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