10 Best Vegetables to Grow in Montana

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Quick Answer: Best Vegetables to grow in Montana

The best vegetables to grow in Montana are tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans, peas, cole crops like cauliflower and broccoli, and roots like potatoes, carrots, and onions. The best seasons to grow vegetables in Montana are spring, summer, and fall.

The Big Sky state is a great place to grow various vegetables!

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the best vegetables to grow in Montana and provide tips and tricks to ensure your garden is successful.

Continue reading to find out.

Best Vegetables to Grow in Montana

Montana, one of the coldest states in the United States, has a highly variable climate with all four seasons, including deep cold winters and warm summers.

Montana’s growing season is relatively short, lasting approximately 95 days. Early May is an ideal time to start a vegetable garden in Montana.

The state soil is called Scobey soil- an intense, well-drained soil.

It is essential to know the soil type in your area because growing the suitable variety of vegetables at the right time in the correct type of soil is crucial to achieving the best results.

1. Tomato

The tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) is a common garden vegetable known for its edible berries. Native to South America, Mexico, and Central America it has a lifespan of 6-8 months.

Why Grow Tomatoes?

There are many early to early-mid season cultivars that will grow and produce well in the short growing season that Montana offers.

Tomatoes are typically best grown in Montana in May, but they can be started indoors as early as March.

They are simple to grow, adaptable, take up little space and produce abundantly. Furthermore, tomato is a nutrient-dense superfood.

Indeterminate (vining) types yield fruit all season and fruits will develop and ripen at different periods, while determinate (bush) types yield fruit around the same time.

Maintenance and Care

They require full sun, sufficient warmth, and fertilizers high in potassium and low in nitrogen.

Overwatering should be avoided, especially during low light and cool temperatures.

Staking and pruning increase yield and quality while also making harvesting easier.

Aphids, flea beetles, leafminers, damping Off, early blight, bacterial leaf spot, and bacterial blight are some common concerns.

2. Squash

Squash which belongs to the genus Cucurbita is a variety of herbaceous vegetables related to watermelons and cucumbers.

There is winter and summer squash, the majority of which are annual plants.

Why Grow Squash?                                  

Given the cool climate of Montana, winter squash will grow abundantly here. Summer squash, like zucchini, will also grow well if planted at a suitable time.

There are bush and vining varieties, of which the bush type is more compact and requires little space. Squash is easy to grow, calorie-efficient, and nutritious.

When harvested ripe, winter squash tastes good and stores well.

Maintenance and Care

Squash benefits from black plastic mulch because it controls weeds and keeps the soil warm. Weeds compete with squash plants, so careful cultivation is essential, especially early in the season.

Squash bugs and powdery mildew are common concerns.

Here is a guide for growing zucchini and bush squash:

3. Pepper

Peppers (Capsicum annuum) are a member of the nightshade family that is known for its variety of flavors (sweet to hot), colors, and sizes. This herbaceous annual/biennial plant is native to Mexico.

Why Grow Pepper?

In Montana, pepper can be planted around the same time as tomatoes as it is also cold-sensitive. Peppers perform better as the temperature gets warmer.

Most pepper varieties are insect-hardy, versatile in the kitchen, and can be grown in pots or containers.

 They take up little garden space and produce well for the space they’re given. Green pepper can be harvested in 55 to 60 days, yellow pepper in 70 to 75 days, and red pepper in 80 to 90 days after transplanting.

Maintenance and Care

Excessive nitrogen fertilization can harm pepper plants. Water consistently during dry spells to prevent blossom end rot.

 Blossom end rot, tobacco mosaic virus, and aphids are common concerns.

Here is a guide for growing peppers:

4. Beans

Beans are herbaceous to woody plants that are either annual or perennial in the Phaseolus genus.

Common or French beans are a type of edible bean that is native to America and is considered a “superfood.”

Why Grow Beans?

They are primarily grown in Montana because they require little water and thrive in the state’s summer.

Whether it is bush type or pole type, it does not demand much space and can be harvested multiple times.

These legumes have nitrogen-fixing root nodules which help in enriching the soil.

Maintenance and Care

Sensitive to soil salts, they favor mildly acidic, well-drained soil, as well as 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Beans have a shallow root system and thus call for meticulous upkeep and weeding.

Bacterial blight and bean leaf beetle are common concerns.

Here’s a guide to growing bush and pole beans:

5. Peas

Peas (Pisum sativum) are herbaceous annual plants from the Fabaceae family.

These legumes are native to the Mediterranean region and make excellent garden plants.

Why Grow Peas?

Montana is well-known for its dry pea production, and they thrive in the state’s natural environmental conditions.

Because they are cool-season plants, they are best planted in early spring.

Dry peas are self-pollinated, do not require a lot of space, and grow well with other vegetables and plants.

Pea is extremely efficient in using intermittent rain showers to stimulate growth. The plant’s roots contain nodules that aid in nitrogen fixation, thereby enriching the soil.

Maintenance and Care

Peas are heat-sensitive but need full sun and well-drained soil. They require little fertilization, and the pods should be picked frequently to keep the plants productive.

Bush varieties can be grown compactly close to each other while vining varieties would require a trellis-like structure to climb on.

Root rots, mildew, aphids, and pea weevils are some of the common concerns.

Here’s a guide to growing peas:

6. Cauliflower

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is a cole crop grown for its edible masses of partially developed flower structures and fleshy stalks.

Native to Asia, the plant is ready for harvest in 2-3 months from planting.

Why Grow Cauliflower?

As it matches the appropriate temperatures needed for cauliflower growth, fall in Montana is the best season for gardeners to grow cauliflower.

Cauliflower is high in choline, an essential nutrient involved in brain development, and is packed with other nutrients and antioxidants.

The plants require little care, produce big crops, and can be grown in many soil conditions. Most varieties are not greatly vulnerable to pests and diseases, and cooler temperatures can also kill off pests.

Maintenance and Care

It can be beneficial to harden the plants for a week or two before transferring them to the garden.

Every week, water with 2 inches of water per square foot. When the cauliflower heads are compact, white, and firm they are ready to harvest.

Damping off, black rot, clubroot, powdery mildew, cabbage worms, aphids, and flea battle are a few common concerns.

Here is a guide for growing cauliflower:

7. Broccoli

Cauliflower’s close relative, broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica), is grown for its thick edible stalks and terminal crowns of blossom buds.

Indigenous to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, Broccoli is harvested 2 to 3 months after transplantation.

Why Grow Broccoli?

Broccoli is also cold hardy like cauliflower and would be best planted in fall or early spring in Montana.

The plant needs at least five hours of sunlight daily. Hence it can be planted 6 weeks before the last frost to 14 weeks before the first frost.

It is cost-effective and fresh broccoli is high in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, folic acid, iron, and other vitamins and minerals compared to store-bought ones.

Maintenance and Care

Broccoli thrives in temperatures between 65° and 70°F. Fertilize the plants with a low-nitrogen fertilizer 3 weeks after planting.

Lack of sunshine might result in weak, leggy plants with poor-quality heads. Plant in a bed of moist, fertile, mildly acidic, well-draining soil.

Cabbage caterpillars, flea beetles, aphids, damping off, black rot, and white rust are a few of the common concerns.

Here is a guide for growing broccoli:

8. Potato

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a member of the nightshade family grown for its starchy edible tubers.

Originating from the Peruvian-Bolivian Andes, this major food crop is a well-liked garden vegetable.

Why Grow Potatoes?

In Montana, Potatoes do well when planted in early to mid-May. Potato tubers are frost-hardy and also store well for the winter.

Potatoes produce multiple tubers, unlike other root vegetables, and these tubers are packed with nutrients.

They require little space to grow and can even be grown in containers and boxes.

Maintenance and Care

They like neutral, rich, well-drained soil but will thrive in a variety of soil types. Fertilization with manure and with high levels of nitrogen is not advised.

Tuber growth is enhanced by using phosphorus and potassium-rich fertilizers.

Some frequent pests and diseases include potato beetles, aphids, late blight, and early blight.

Here is a guide to growing potatoes:

9. Carrot

Why Grow Carrots?

Carrots will grow well in Montana soil in the spring or fall climate, although it is ideal for planting them around late April to early May.

They are easy to grow, thrive in garden beds, and can survive the summer heat but performs best when planted before it gets warm. They do best in full sun but also do fine in partial shade.

 Carrots require little care and can be harvested 60-80 days after planting.

Maintenance and Care

The soil type and watering must be taken care of: loose, well-draining soil and at least 1 inch of water per week are required.

Carrots might be harmed by compacted soil and excessive irrigation.

Before planting, add a couple of inches of compost or well-rotted manure and a small dose of general-purpose fertilizer. Weeds compete with young plants and careful weeding must be done.

Carrot weevils, carrot rust fly, flea beetles, aster yellow, black root rot, and common scab are a few common concerns affecting the plant.

Here is a guide for growing carrots in containers:

10. Onion

Onions (Allium cepa) are root vegetables grown for their edible bulbs. Belonging to the  amaryllis family, this herbaceous biennial plant is native to Central Asia.

Why Grow Onion?

Owing to Montana’s short growing season, you can plant onions 2-4 weeks before the last spring frost. Onions are cold-tolerant vegetables that can tolerate light frosts.

Fast-maturing onion varieties are available that are well-suited to Montana’s climatic conditions.

Since Montana lies above the 35th parallel latitude, long-day type onions will thrive in the state. Many of these onions are low-cost, resistant to foliar diseases, and store well.

Maintenance and Care

Full sun and adequate drainage are ideal conditions for growing onions. Although onions require a lot of water, they should never be grown in damp soil.

After the onions are planted, nitrogen fertilizer should be applied every other week.

Bulb and neck rots, smut, and thrips are common problems.

Here is a guide to growing Onions:

What is the easiest-growing vegetable in Montana?

Peas and beans are the easiest-growing vegetables, followed by carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and squash.

What is the best time to grow vegetables in Montana?

Warm-weather plants grow best in mid to late spring through summer, whereas cool-weather plants grow best in early to late spring and fall. Some of the cold-hardy plants can withstand mild frosts.

FAQs

Which vegetables can be directly sown outside in Montana?

Beets, carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, spinach, onions, radishes and turnips can be directly sown into your garden.

What vegetables to plant in the fall in Montana?

Cold hardy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli etc can be planted in fall.

What are the most cost effective vegetables to grow in Montana?

Onions, peppers, winter squash, tomatoes, broccoli, and lettuce are some cost effective vegetables to grow in Montana

Quick Recap: Top Vegetables to Grow In Montana

VegetablesWhy grow?
Tomato1. Require less space
2. Remarkably productive
Squash1. Easy to grow and nutritious
2. Wide varieties available
Pepper1. Require less space
2. Produce well for the space given
Beans1. Easy to grow, less space
2. Nitrogen-fixing, drought hardy
Peas1. Cold hardy
2. Nitrogen-fixing
Cauliflower1. Cold hardy, little care
2. High in choline
Broccoli1. Cold hardy
2. Cost effective, packed with nutrients
Potato1. Little maintenance, little space
2. Good storage
Carrot1. Need little care
2. Thrive well in cold
Onion1. Inexpensive
2. Hardy vegetable

Bottomline

The vegetables listed in this guide are just a few of the many vegetable options available to Montana gardeners.

I hope you found the article and the list of vegetables useful, and we are always available to answer your queries!

If you have any tips or experience with growing vegetables in Montana, share it with us in the comments.

Finally, don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family. Spread the vegetable love!