|Which vegetables do you recommend for growing, by season, in the Las Vegas Valley? My new garden will have a raised bed with composted soil and I'd appreciate your recommendations on compost mix.|
|Your last frost date is around March 30, and the torrid heat of summer hits around mid-June, so that gives you your "first" growing season. You can direct-sow seeds of cool-season plants (greens and root veggies) before the end of March and set out transplants of more tender crops (tomato, eggplant, pepper) and direct-seed others (squash, cukes, peas, beans, etc.) after danger of frost has passed. These should mature before mid-summer when it's just too hot for anything to grow. After the peak of summer heat, you can plant another round of the tender crops, and a little later as fall approaches, sow more cool-season crops.
Raised beds in the arid southwest are a mixed blessing. While they allow you to grow in good, rich, imported soil rather than the challenging native soils, water drains through them quickly, since they are raised. To minimize moisture loss, water in late afternoon/evening to reduce evaporation, and use an organic mulch (straw over newspaper, cocoa shells, etc.), toincrease water retention. Use light-colored materials or paint wooden bed frames white to reflect light - this keeps soil and plant roots cooler than dark colored materials. Be prepared to shade your garden with shade netting in mid-summer.
Are you making your own compost, or purchasing ready-made compost? Either way, the finished product should be dark, crumbly stuff that smells clean. It should hold moisture yet still drain well, so roots won't be drowned or droughty. You'll find many articles on composting and soil improvement at the National Gardening on-line library (www.garden.org), and also by searching this Q&A database. If after perusing these, you have further questions, please submit them through the Q&A website. Your agricultural extension office (ph# 702/731-3130) can also help you with tips specific to your region. Hope this helps!