- First, you should find out how many average growing days are usual for your area. This can be done by looking up what the average first and last frost dates are in your area. For my area in the Salt Lake Valley, UT the last frost date in the spring is around May 10 or an easy way to remember is around Mother's Day. The first frost of the season in fall occurs usually the first or second week in October. So we have around 145 average growing days give or take a week or two. This will make a difference especially for the warm veggies like tomatoes and squash. You want plenty of time to harvest from your garden. If you plant a vegetable that will start producing around the same time of the first frost in the fall that will really limit how much you will be able to harvest before the frost kills your plants. So when looking at seed catalogs or packets, there is a number that is for the days to maturity. Be sure to choose varieties that will work well with your growing season.
- Next to the plant name will have either OP or F1. OP means Open Pollinated. This means the offspring of these plants will be very similar to the parent plants. Heirloom varieties are considered open pollinated. You can save the seeds from these plants to plant in your garden the next year. F1 means there were 2 different but similar varieties bred together to get this variety. You wont want to save these seeds as they will be inferior to the parent plants.
- Remember to watch for specific qualities you want in the description. If it dose not tell you what you are looking for chances are they do not have that quality. For example a tomato that is good for sauce will say so. The description also usually tell you size, if it is disease resistant and any other special features it has.
Choosing the varieties and planning out your garden can make the cold months more bearable and even fun! (at least at my house.)
Happy Garden Planning!