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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved
While planting dates are never exact, most semi hardy vegetables go into the ground starting about two weeks after the hardy vegetables. As a calendar date along the Wasatch front, this translates to sometime around April 1 and continues until May 1. Since this is April Fools Day, Mother Nature might pull a few tricks but this time frame is usually an accurate starting point.
Semi hardy or half-hardy vegetables are capable of withstanding a light frost. These vegetables can withstand temperatures down to 25 degrees. While temperatures are never guaranteed, the probability of a killing frost for these plants is low after April 1 in most valley areas.
While there are a few slight differences in lists, the following vegetable are usually categorized as semi hardy. They include carrots, beets, cauliflower, endive, some types of lettuce, parsley, parsnips, potatoes and salsify.
Dividing these into categories, the carrots, beets, parsnips, salsify and potatoes are root crops, Although they have little in common botanically, they are horticulturally related because the parts we harvest and use is underground. The rest are primarily salad or at least salad bar crops.
Potatoes may not be the staff of life but they are close to it. Although they called Irish potatoes, they are originally from South America. They are the most popular vegetable in terms of amounts consumed. However, many gardeners chose to let others grow them because the take so much space in the garden and they are relatively inexpensive to buy.
My advice to those who are restricted on space is to grow “new potatoes” meaning those that are harvested when they are small and less mature or grow specialty varieties that are not commonly available in our areas. Main season potatoes varieties take about 125 day to mature so plant them early in the season for best results.
Beets are another very popular vegetable that is easier to grow in our heavier soils. Beets are much more tolerate of poor quality soils and of salt in the water or soil. Much of the Salt Lake Valley once grew sugar beets and table beets need about the same conditions.
Beet are biennials grown as annuals and are selected from ancient European vegetables. While most gardeners eat the roots, the tops or the beet greens are a leafy crop that is used much like spinach.
Plant beets and then thin them to about four inches apart. The most common problem when growing beets is letting them grows too large. They are then tough and woody with little or no flavor. Since they mature quickly, plant a couple of different plantings in the spring as well as a midsummer planting for tasty treats this fall.
For more information on growing semi hardy vegetables, read my column in tomorrows Deseret News.