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It’s not often you hear me talk about proper soil amendments prior to doing most any gardening project, especially here in the desert, and growing vegetables is no exception. For those of you who would like to give peas, carrots, broccoli or maybe bok choy a try, here are a few tips on getting things started:

A plethora of vegetables can and should be started early.  For example, broccoli, radishes, peas,  broccoli, raab, bok choy, endive and many thick greens such as spinach, mustard greens and collards can be started 4-6 weeks prior to the last spring frost or as soon as soil is workable.

Veggies like carrots, beets, Swiss chard, many leaf and head lettuces and turnips can be started 2-4 weeks prior to last frost.  Most require soil temperatures ranging between 40 and 50 degrees.

Another group of crops that can be started 1-2 weeks prior to last frost are things like cauliflower, many cabbage varieties, cilantro, celery and quinoa. Soil temps should hover around 60 degrees.

And remember, planting times vary widely depending on your area.  If you live in southern parts of New Mexico or Arizona many of these crops are considered winter crops because of their intolerance to heat.  In cooler areas planting times may get pushed back as much as several weeks. So check with your local nursery professional for assistance.

By Jennifer Timms Hobson, originally published February 7, 2012

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