The Garden Spot explores fresh ideas to ensure greater success in your garden with seasonal tips that focus on Utah’s diverse climate. Brought to you by Anderson Seed and Garden in Logan.
Hardy Spring Crops
How excited are you to get outside and start planting in the garden? This month provides prime conditions to plant peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, onions, carrots, broccoli, kale and many other cold-tolerant crops. They are hardy enough to not only tolerate, but they actually prefer the ups and downs of Spring weather and temperatures. Frost: no problem. Snow: bring it on. And don’t forget about many small fruits you can plant now as well - strawberries, raspberries and grapes all love the cooler weather of April. Be sure to fertilize when planting or use a natural root stimulator to encourage early plant growth.
Protecting Tender Plants
All it takes is a few sunny warm days, and every gardener feels that need to plant. Sometimes, that desire overrides our better judgment and we plant tender seedlings before the danger of frost has passed. Don’t worry, you can fulfill that inner need and still protect tender young transplants! Just be aware of the limits of each of these methods. Hot caps and frost blankets provide about 2-3 degrees of added protection - so instead of freezing at 32, they are good down to about 30 degrees. Transparent, hard plastic plant protectors give even more cold temperature defense at about 4-6 degrees below freezing. The ultimate shields against cold use a water barrier between layers of hard or flexible plastic that protect plants into the low 20’s.
Bare Root Planting Season
It’s bare root planting season and these helpful tips will guarantee greater success when transplanting your plants. Always hydrate your rootstock in water or a root stimulator for 12-24 hours before planting. When preparing the hole, always dig it 2-3 times the width of the rootball, and as deep as the root system to the graft or bark tissue – not deeper. Mix 25-30% of a planting mix or compost into the soil removed from the hole to help with drainage and moisture retention. Gently backfill the hole to avoid damaging the exposed roots. Prune thoroughly. Bare root trees and fruits can lose up to 50% or more of their root systems during digging and transportation. You have to compensate for that loss or roots in the tops as well, or they will struggle to leaf out.
Using Tea To Compost
One of the best ways to help plants get established quickly and produce their desired results faster is to give them a dose of compost tea every week or two. Compost tea is full of beneficial microbes and micro-organisms, mycorrhizae and essential soil biology derived from worm castings, humate, kelp, and natural proteins. When brewed for 24-48 hours with an infusion of air and circulating water, those organisms multiply like crazy, making the tea a supercharged solution of goodness for your soil. It breaks down diseases, organic matter, toxins and pesticides, and more importantly it pre-digests nutrients so the plants can use if faster. It’s an all-natural way to keep your plants healthy and growing.
Transplanting Your Tender Plants
Beautiful plants in the greenhouse are so tempting this time of year, and with the sun finally shining through all the wet, rainy weather, gardeners everywhere can’t wait to get outside and plant everything! For best results when transplanting tender plants, make sure to harden off greenhouse grown seedlings for a few days by exposing them gradually to the outside– put them in a shady spot during the day and bring them in at night for 2-3 days, then place them in the same spot (remember to keep watering them!) and leave them out for another day or two. Acclimating your valuable plants before planting will prepare the plant for outside conditions and help ensure your gardening success. And don’t forget to water them after transplanting with a root stimulator to avoid transplant shock.
Caring For Your Hanging Baskets When The Weather Gets Hot
Hanging baskets and planter look so beautiful early in the growing season and make an amazing addition to any yard or garden. However, by the time the heat arrives in late June or July, they can struggle and suffer without proper care, and eventually find a new home in the compost pile. Our secret recipe to keep your hanging baskets and planters looking beautiful all summer long requires only a few simple steps: fertilize, hydrate, and repeat! We recommend using a water soluble or liquid fertilizer every 3-4 days and hydrating the soil completely on a daily basis. Try using a soil penetrant or hydrating agent if your baskets dry out too fast. Consistent watering, a regular fertilizer regimen, and your persistence can make all the difference in a gorgeous planter or an early addition to the compost heap.
Your Very Own Tomatos
If you love tomatoes you have probably tried more than a handful of some new and old heirloom varieties: Brandymaster Pink, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Big Rainbow and many others. While the flavors and textures of some of these older varieties are a treat in your mouth, they tend to pick up a wider variety of diseases and problems than newer, resistant hybrid tomatoes. Blossom end rot, a brown, sunken spot that develops on the bottom of the tomatoes, will affect a lot gardens this year because of the record breaking rainfall. To help avoid this common problem, use a calcium supplement on your plants early in the season, don’t cultivate too close to the plants, and maintain a consistent soil moisture – not too dry and not too wet. Have a great harvest!
Keeping It Green While Saving Water
It’s hard to believe that we have to water our lawns after all that rain this spring, but the time has come to do our best to keep our yards green while conserving our most valuable resource – water. While many trees, shrubs and flowers thrive with once a week watering or even less (especially if you have installed a drip system), lawns generally need more water to stay green. USU Extension recommends 1-1.5 inches of water per week, applied in 2 or 3 applications to keep most varieties of turfgrass green all summer long. To conserve even more water, be sure to avoid watering during the day, raise your mower up to 3-4 inches as tall grass uses less water and resists heat better, and add some drought tolerant grass seed to your existing lawn. Let’s keep it green without wasting water!
Our long, wet Spring encouraged an explosion of insects for this summer: Wasps, spiders, box elder bugs, and more. Grasshoppers take the prize for the most numerous pests of all. They seem to be everywhere. Rest assured that safe, natural and effective alternatives to insecticides exist. One alternative method for controlling grasshoppers is the biological spore Nosema, that only kills grasshoppers – it’s totally safe for people, pets and won’t harm beneficial insects. It carries over from generation to generation, and stops the grasshoppers from eating and reproducing, greatly reducing their numbers from year to year. Another safe and effective option is to use an insect repellent like Cedarwood oil. It’s all natural, safe to use, and drives away all kinds of flying insects including moths, mosquitos, flies and especially grasshoppers. And it makes your yard smell amazing!
Introducing New Grass Seed To Your Lawn
When overseeding or introducing new grass seed into an existing lawn, following the proper steps will ensure your success. First, mow the lawn short by dropping the mower deck to about 1-1/2 inches. If possible, core aerate your turf to introduce holes in the turf, where the new seed can take hold and germinate. Next, broadcast your desired seed blend over the entire lawn – many of the new varieties of grass seed will perform better in heat, shade, with less water, and they resist insects and diseases while providing a dark green color and soft texture. After applying the grass seed, rake the turf very lightly with a leaf rake, to encourage the seed to make contact with the soil. Continue to follow your usual watering schedule to maintain correct soil moisture for the existing turf, but then make sure to adjust your sprinklers to water every day for 5-10 minutes on the off days. This will keep the new seed moist and you should see new grass germinating in 10-14 days.
The Very Best Time To Plant Your Grass Seed
It’s hot outside, but it’s also the very best time of year to plant grass seed. The warmer the soil temperatures, the faster the grass seed germinates and the less water you need to get it to sprout. Over the last 10 years, universities and seed developers have discovered many new varieties and types of grass that resist insects and diseases, use less water, have a beautiful color and soft texture, and perform well in our mountain climates. You don’t have to plant a whole new lawn to enjoy the benefits of these new grasses – overseeding and existing lawn with a new grass will help eliminate many persistent problems and help with water use, improve color and density, and give you a more worry-free turf. Don’t wait, it’s not too hot to get started now.
Planting Your Fall Bulbs
Do you wonder why you even try to plant a garden because everything you plant fails? Even the most challenged gardener can feel successful when planting fall bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and crocus all need minimal care after planting, but what an amazing show of color they produce in the spring. All you need to do is dig a hole, put some bulb food in the bottom and work it into the soil. Then, lay your bulbs in the bottom of the hole, cover them with loose soil and then water thoroughly. Dig, drop, done! It’s that easy. For the most spectacular displays of bulbs, plant 5-7 bulbs per square foot, and concentrate them in strategic areas of your yard to create dramatic focal points. You’ll be amazed at how many neighbors will comment on the beauty of your yard next spring.
The Hard Frost
A hard frost in October usually finishes off the productivity of most gardens in Northern Utah and signals the time to put the garden to bed for the year. Due to erosion, tilling, muddy feet, harvesting, and many other factors, your garden loses some topsoil every year. Fall is by far, the best time to add organic matter to your garden and build your soil for next year. Leaves, grass clippings, straw, compost, wood shavings, composted manures: they all improve your soil and add valuable nutrients. Remember to use a variety of different materials. Spread 2 to 4 inches of organic matter over the entire garden, add some nitrogen (about 4-6 lbs. per 1000 square feet), some humate to boost the micro-organism population, till it all in, and watch the magic happen next spring.
Fall Lawn Care
Every gardener wishes they could just mow the lawn for the last time around the first of October, blow out the sprinklers, and call it good for the year. A better plan for fall includes lowering the lawn mower blade every time you mow (about every 10-14 days) until the last mowing is at about 1 ½ inches sometime in mid to late November. A quick release fertilizer applied right after that last mowing will be taken up by your grass and give it the strength to recover over winter for an impressive looking lawn next spring. Plan on winterizing the sprinklers the end of October – about the same time you want to trim down the perennial flowers and mulch the roses. There are so many things to do to get ready for winter, but a little time invested now, will pay major dividends next spring.