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Front Page » April 30, 2013 » Carbon County News » Ask a Specialist
Published 598 days ago

Ask a Specialist


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By JULENE REESE
USU Extension writer
first article and DENNIS WORWOOD
USU Extension educator
second article

When should I plant my garden?

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.

Price generally has 148 frost-free days between May 12 and Oct. 7.

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.

Should I consider growing edamame?

Edamame (ed-uh-mah-may), or green vegetable soybeans, has been a long-time favorite snack food in Asia and is now gaining popularity in the United States. 

Edamame is a healthy snack choice. Green soybeans are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They have zero cholesterol and are high in the "good" fatty acids.

If you can grow green beans, you can grow edamame. Consider this information.

After danger of frost is past, plant seeds 2 inches apart and about 1 1/2 inches deep in rows that are 12 to18 inches apart. Keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge. Mature plants are roughly the size of bush green beans at about 18 to 24 inches tall. 

Edamame has few pests. Plants sometimes suffer from iron chlorosis, which is demonstrated by * Edamame pods are ready to harvest from 70 to 90 days after planting. Varieties to consider, in order of ripening time, are: Soy Good, Envy, Beer Friend (yes, really), Early Hakucho, Lucky Lion, Midori Giant, Bee Sweet, Butterbeans and Sayamusume.

Harvest pods when they are plump and well filled, but before they turn from green to brown. Each pod typically contains two to three beans. All pods on a given plant mature at about the same time, so you can pick many soybeans in a short time when they're ripe. To extend the harvest season, plant several varieties that ripen at different times. 

     As the name "Beer Friend" suggests, edamame is usually eaten as a snack food, like peanuts. To prepare, boil whole pods in salted water for about 5 minutes. Allow pods to cool before serving. To eat, pinch the pod between your thumb and index finger to "shoot" the beans into your mouth. 

    A bowl of cooked soybean pods looks somewhat like a mass of fuzzy, lumpy, green caterpillars. People quickly forget the pods' unusual appearance when they taste the beans. Edamame has a nutty, sweet flavor that even vegetable-hating kids have been known to love. 

    Frozen edamame fetches a premium price in the grocery store, but you can easily freeze your own. First, wash the mature green pods, then blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water. Cool and dry the pods and pack in freezer bags. To prepare the frozen beans, cook them in boiling, salted water for 4 to 5 minutes or until the beans are heated through.

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