Gardening in Saint George Can Be Tricky

Just because the 19th-century cotton farmers in Southern Utah were unable to continue doesn’t mean you can’t grow a flourishing garden in Saint George, Utah.  There were multiple factors that pulled the cotton mission apart after 50 years of marginal to low success: dry climate, lack of resources to sustain both the cotton and the growing population, and unprofitable distribution of the cotton.  But, thanks to clever water management, gardening in Saint George is alive and well.  The water conservation district pipes in water from the tiny Virgin River into reservoirs so residents of Washington County can enjoy enough H2O for drinking, cooking, swimming, gardening, and yes, farming, too.

Monitor The Sunshine

While rain is scarce, sunlight is not, and you can burn up a young plant if it’s exposed all day to the scorching heat of the desert sun.  Some of the best St. George gardens are exposed only to morning and daytime sunshine and are shaded late in the day. You need only a few hours of sunlight per day for photosynthesis, and some shade will reduce the amount of water you’re losing through evaporation, too.  Gardening in Saint George includes conservation of water.

Prepare The Soil

Gardening in Saint George is most successful when the soil is prepared.  To prepare your soil, till it up in fall and spring.  If you’re into strength training, grab a shovel and dig, turn over, and slice it up.  If not, you can rent, buy, or borrow a tiller. They’re available. Till in compost or manure, which will add nitrogen and organic material to the soil.  You can pick up compost at the Washington County Landfill for cheap. There are also plenty of ranches in Washington County with livestock. Horse keepers are usually happy to get rid of some of that mountain of manure.

The frost-free growing season is approximately 207 days, between early April and late October.  This allows sufficient time to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables without risk of frost damage.  Some plants like to grow in late summer to fall, while others prefer the spring.

Choose Plants for Easy Harvest

Gardening in Saint George can be very prolific with cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.  They should be started in late January indoors. Then transplant the starts to the garden in early April.  If the ground is thawed, you can plant peas, onion starts, and potatoes in early February.

At 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the soil is ready for seeds of pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, gourds, beans, cowpeas, corn, and squashes.  This normally occurs in early April.

Choose Plants for Late Harvest

For summer planting, do it early enough to avoid the colder nights.  Be sure to read on the seed packet the number of days it takes to harvest for each vegetable. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers need about 100 days to harvest, so they should be transplanted to the garden by July 19.  

You can plant the seeds of cole crops, such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli in mid-August; though you will increase your chances of success by starting them indoors by end of June and then transplanting them to the garden around August 8.  Treat spinach and lettuce the same way. Plant pea seeds directly into the soil on or about August 13.

Hardy crops such as watermelons, beans, cowpeas, pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, sunflowers, and squashes can be planted in mid-July.  

I hope these tips will prove fruitful for your gardening in Saint George.


Gardening in Saint George Can Be Tricky


Gardening in Saint George Can Be Tricky

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