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Utah County Extension Services  

by Alvin R. Hamson, Extension Horticulturist


No piece of land on the farm will return more per acre than the space devoted to the family garden. Back yards in town may also afford an excellent location for a good garden if sufficient water is available. Some contend that it is cheaper to buy vegetables than to grow them yourself. Anyone who has tasted fresh garden peas, sweet corn or had the satisfaction of clipping just enough lettuce for the coming meal will tell you that this is not so. For a few months, at least, a family who is willing to put forth the necessary effort can by-pass the vegetable counter and enjoy attractive, flavorful, nutritiously fresh vegetables from their own garden.


The average needs of a family of five for any particular vegetable should be supplied by the amounts suggested in this circular. Included in the estimates are portions for canning, freezing, and storing. Increase or decrease the length of row to suit the size and preference of the family. The vegetable garden should be in fertile soil with an ample water supply available. It should be easily accessible so that produce can be gathered with the least possible effort.
The garden should be carefully planned. Most of the space will be occupied by the family’s favorite vegetables, but we strongly recommend that different new vegetables and newer varieties be tried. Utah Gardeners can grow asparagus, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, endive, kale, onion, parsley, peas, rhubarb, salsify, Swiss chard, and tomatoes. Seasoning and flavoring herbs are not listed, but they, too, grow well in Utah.


Actual planting dates will vary with the season and the locality. Planting each group of vegetables during the weather period suggested is the important thing. Estimated planting dates are for an average year in the warmer parts of the counties adjacent to Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake. In Utah’s low altitude, “Dixie,” the planting season usually will be a month or more earlier. In some of the cooler localities, only the early maturing varieties of warm season crops, such as tomatoes or the hardy and semi-hardy vegetables will produce a crop.


In order to have some vegetables mature earlier in the spring, a good method is to plant in the fall and over-winter the young seedlings. Chances of having good winter survival depend to a great extent on the planting time in the fall. Onions, carrots, and spinach have been satisfactorily grown by this method. The following schedule of planting is recommended for the Salt Lake Valley: Carrots: September 10-15; Onions, August 1-15; and Spinach, September 15-25. In cooler climates, plant a week or 10 days earlier, and in Washington County, plant 20-25 days later.

The crops should be kept free of weeds in the fall, as well as the spring. Irrigation should not be overlooked, if needed. An early application of a 10-20-0 fertilizer, or equivalent, is helpful in stimulating growth.


1. There is no substitute for good seed. There are many varieties on the market. Buy only the best.
2. Plant only a few feet of a row at one time if planting lettuce, peas, radishes, and other crops which rapidly become over-mature at harvest time.
3. Plant an early, semi-early, a mid-season and a late variety of sweet corn at the same time to spread the harvest period. Mid-season and late varieties are the best quality for canning and freezing.
4. Plant each variety of sweet corn in a block three or four rows wide. You will get better filled ears because of better pollination.
5. Keep space occupied. When early crops such as lettuce, peas, radish and spinach are done, make second seedings or plant vegetables such as snap beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, sweet corn, kohlrabi, summer squash and Swiss chard.
6. For better tomato yields, use double-hill planting (6 inches between plants).
7. Control weeds early. An hour spent hoeing small weeds will save hours of work later when weeds are mature.
8. Control insects when they first appear. Know the control methods of different insects and apply as directed. See your county agent for detailed information.


Rapid growth of high quality vegetables requires an adequate supply of soil nutrients. Nitrogen and phosphorous are the elements most likely to be deficient in Utah soils. Apply 3 pounds of a 10-20-0 fertilizer, or equivalent, for each 100 square feet of garden. You may broadcast half of the fertilizer before plowing and work the other half into the surface 3 inches of soil after plowing. Fertilizer applied in bands 3 inches to the side of the row of seeds or 6 inches deep and 3 to 6 inches to the side of small transplanted plants will be more efficiently utilized by the plant, but is more difficult to apply. Young plants or germinating seeds will be injured if the fertilizer is placed above or directly under the furrow or closer than 3 inches to the side. Well-rotted compost is of value in supplying nutrients and improving the texture of the soil to make the tillage operations easier. Apply 1 to 2 bushels of manure to each 100 square feet. If manure is applied each year, 2 pounds of treble super phosphate per 100 square feet may be used in place of the 10-20-0 fertilizer.


Make a compost of grass clippings, manure, leaves, straw or waste portions of vegetables or any herbaceous crop. The compost is made by piling the organic materials in layers 6 inches thick and covering with a thin layer of soil until the pile is approximately 4 feet wide, three feet high, and as long as is needed to contain the materials available. Care should be taken to spread clippings in a thin layer.

As the pile is being made, 2 cups of 10-20-0 should be spread on each bushel of organic material. The pile should be kept moist to hasten decomposition. Less watering will be required if boards are placed around the sides of the pile and a basin is made by ridging soil around the top of the pile to retain water or so that the basin may be filled quickly by a hose.

New varieties of vegetables are released each year. A new variety would not be released if it were not superior to existing varieties in some important characteristics, such as earliness, quality or disease resistance. Some of the new varieties are outstanding in our gardens. The new all female hybrids of cucumbers produce excellent yields of cucumbers on compact plants. Many other examples might be cited, but perhaps the most convincing observation would come from the experienced gardener who grows the best new varieties available and certainly would not be content
without them.

Vegetable Planting Chart
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