Plant Now or Wait?

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    Plant Now or Wait?

    Determining when to plant a garden can be somewhat confusing in Utah’s unpredictable, varied climate where last-frost dates can vary by many days within just a few miles. Many experienced gardeners have planted at one point and later lost the plants to frost.

    An example of how fickle Utah’s climate can be is in Cache Valley. Frost-free days vary from an average of 113 days in Lewiston and Trenton to 158 days on the USU campus. Similar examples occur across the state. Although exact last-frost dates are not available for all areas, a person can still determine when to plant. Often, the best thing to do is chat with a local farmer or experienced gardener in the area. 

    Consider the geographic characteristics of where you live. When a yard is located in a populated area or on a mountain bench, it usually has a longer growing season. Other areas located at slightly lower elevations, where cold air drains and cannot escape, have a shorter season due to the increased cold air. This is why local commercial orchards are generally located on benches. Additionally, urban and suburban areas are slightly warmer than surrounding areas due to the urban heat effect. Heat from buildings and warmth generated by sunlight reflected from roads and other surfaces increase temperatures and delay frost.

    In addition to knowing frost information, a wise gardener takes into account the needs of the plants. Vegetables planted locally fall into four basic categories: hardy, semi-hardy, tender and very tender. Depending on the category, planting dates vary from early spring until early summer. Consider the following:

    • Hardy vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach, can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. This usually ranges between 45 and 60 days before the average last frost. These same vegetables can be safely planted until the date of the average last frost. 
    • Semi-hardy plants, such as beets, carrots, lettuce and potatoes, can be planted one to two weeks after the hardy group. These can be planted until the average last-frost date.
    • Tender vegetables, such as celery, cucumbers, corn and most beans, should be planted on the average last-frost date in your area. 
    • Very tender plants, such as squash, beans, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, should not be planted until at least a week after the average last frost has passed. Even if frost does not occur before this time, these plants will not grow well and are more susceptible to disease until warmer weather. 

    If you have lost plants to frost, you are not alone. It is often due to Utah’s fickle weather, and all gardeners can do is try again. 

    Frost Information for Various Locations in Utah

     

     

    Frost Dates

     

    City

    Last

    First

    Frost-Free Days

    Alpine

    May 20

    September 30

    136

    Blanding

    May 13

    Oct 12

    153

    Cedar City

    May 10

    October 5

    148

    Delta

    May 17

    September 28

    134

    Farmington

    May 5

    October 10

    158

    Fillmore

    May 16

    October 4

    140

    Huntsville

    June 11

    September 9

      89

    Kanab

    May 7

    October 20

    166

    Lake Town

    June 15

    September 10

       87

    Logan

    May 14

    September 25

    135

    Morgan

    June 6

    September 11

     98

    Moroni

    June 1

    September 18

    109

    Ogden

    May 1

    October 24

    176

    Park City

    June 9

    September 1

       92

    Price

    May 12

    October 7

    148

    Roosevelt

    May 18

    September 25

    130

    Spanish Fork

    May 1

    October 13

    165

    St. George

    April 6

    October 28

    205

    Tooele

    May 7

    October 14

    159

     

    By: Taun Beddes and Julene Reese - Apr. 26, 2013