Because of the challenges presented by the high salt levels, high pH and low amounts of organic matter in southern Nevada soils, growing vegetables in this area is easier in a raised bed, where amendments such as compost increase the tilth and nutrient levels of the soil.
Vegetables fall into two general categories:
- Cool Season: Cool season vegetables are planted so that most or all of their growth is in the cool part of the year. These are the tubers (potatoes); roots (carrots, beets); bulbs (garlic, onions); stems (asparagus); leaves (chard, lettuce, cabbage); pre-flower structures (broccoli, cauliflower).
- Warm Season: Warm season vegetables are planted so that most or all of their growth is in the warm (but not the hottest) part of the year. These vegetables are usually the fruits (tomato, pepper, cucumber, melon) and seeds (beans, sunflowers).
Cool season vegetables generally require less sunlight than warm season crops, but do require at least of six hours of sunlight per day. In the late spring, these crops need protection from the hottest afternoon sun.
In southern Nevada most vegetables grow well; however, timing is everything. All plants, whether cool or warm season, will "shut down" most of their metabolism when the temperature is over 95 F. The plants will continue to take up water to stay alive, so they need to be watered regularly, but most plants will not produce new leaves, roots, flowers or fruits when the temperatures are that high. Of course there are exceptions: melons, squash, eggplant, okra and sweet potatoes will still grow well and produce through our summer heat.
When planting vegetables keep the seed bed moist after planting. When the plants are established, apply a layer of organic mulch around the planting area, but about an inch away from the stems, to maintain soil moisture and to regulate soil temperatures.
Extension's vegetables can be found in the raised bed area and Community Demonstration Garden. The vegetables grown on-campus are part of long-term observational studies and are not free to pick for the public.