You don't need a green thumb to grow vegetables in your Utah Valley backyard. This summer, try a few varieties of tomatoes to find your favorite.
You don’t need a green thumb to grow vegetables in your Utah Valley backyard. This summer, try a few varieties of tomatoes to find your favorite.

The last frost of the year is mere weeks away, and Utah County’s garden centers are bustling as residents make plans for their summer gardens. Whether you’ve got a solid green thumb or can’t tell the difference between a weed and a seedling, these expert ideas will get your garden growing.

Here are eight vegetables that are suited to flourish in your Utah Valley garden. (Click on each vegetable’s name for additional information from the Utah State University Extension program.)

1. Radishes

This salad-friendly root vegetable is a cool-season plant that prefers a sunny location and fertile, deep, well-drained soil. Be sure to water this plant regularly, and you may be ready to harvest just a month after planting. Try thinly sliced radishes atop toasted baguette pieces slathered with pesto for a light springtime lunch.

2. Mustard greens

More nutritious than many other lettuces, mustard greens are best grown in the spring. Most varieties grow beautifully in Utah. For an earlier harvest, plant this veggie from transplants instead of seeds. Sauteed with onions and garlic, these pungent leaves make a great side dish packed with iron, beta carotene and vitamin C.

3. Tomatoes

It’s not summer without garden-fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are warm-season plants that need a sunny spot and fertile, well-drained soil. Water infrequently but deeply — about 1-2 inches per week. There are literally thousands of varieties of tomatoes, so have fun selecting your favorites.

4. Zucchini (and other summer squash)

Plant these seeds in a sunny space when the soil hits about 65 degrees, and plan to water deeply and infrequently. Not sure what to do with the loads of zucchini you’ll harvest? Check out these 50 recipes from Kalyn’s Kitchen, a popular Utah food blog.

5. Peas

Snap peas and snow peas grow well in Utah soil, and they make a perfect summer snack. When prepping your soil, be sure to work compost and fertilizer to a depth of six inches. After your spring success, plant peas again in mid-August for a fall harvest.

6. Corn

Designate your sunniest spot for a few rows of sweet corn. Incorporate plenty of organic matter and a complete fertilizer into the soil before planting, then focus on regular watering throughout the plant’s growth. This summer, ditch the classic boiled corn and try grilling instead. Learn about different corn-grilling methods from Our Best Bites, a fun food blog run by two BYU grads.

7. Beans

Green beans are easy to grow and can be harvested continually if seeds are planted every 2-3 weeks. Trellises and wood poles are good options to give the bean plants a structure to climb.

8. Lettuce

Want a summer of salads? Many varieties of lettuce perform well in Utah, so give romaine, oak leaf, buttercrunch or iceberg a try. Lettuce seeds germinate best when the soil hits 55 degrees, and they’ll emerge within seven to 10 days. To prevent lettuce from browning in your refrigerator, store it at a low temperature (ideally 34 to 36 degrees Farenheit) and eliminate any excess moisture on the leaves. Also, keep your lettuce away from ethylene-producing fruits, like apples and pears.

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