Thursday, April 27, 2017

5 Ways To Save Money In The Vegetable Garden

vegetable garden in Salt Lake City
Vegetable gardening has some costs.  There are things you need to buy in order to experience the magic of growing your own food.  Hopefully you will harvest enough food from the garden to offset the monetary inputs.  Most certainly, you will reap the immeasurable benefits of joy and satisfaction when you sit down to a plate of food that came from the garden you nurtured.

Here are 5 ways you can save money in your vegetable garden:

1 - plant things from seeds when you can.  Plants are relatively expensive and seeds will produce plants at a fraction of the cost.
2 - be efficient with water.  Drip systems are perfect for the vegetable garden.
3 - be efficient with the harvest.  Money and time (and your blood, sweat and tears) have gone into this garden.  What a terrible waste if you don't utilize the fruits of the harvest.  If there is too much for you and your family, share it with friends and neighbors.  Or do some canning and preserving.  Your local food pantry will welcome any fresh produce you have to offer.
4 - compost.  Make your own compost to feed the soil and plants in your garden.  It's much cheaper than buying it.
5 - go organic.  Use organic methods to feed your soil and plants and to control pests and weeds.  Pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and plant foods are expensive and can damage your soil in the long run.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tulips In The Xeriscape - Spring Color!

I saw this garden in Salt Lake City the other day.  I couldn't help but notice the excellent combination of xeric Utah native plants (I see Ephedra and Sagebrush) and bold clumps of flowering tulips.  Spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils are water wise, so you can plant them with other water wise plants and they will survive.  They provide a nice burst of color in the spring just as the native perennials and shrubs are leafing out.  Gorgeous combination and contrast!
Tulips add color to the xeriscape - Ephedra viridis

Tulips incorporated into Xeriscape with Utah native plants - Ephedra and Sagebrush

Friday, April 14, 2017

When Can I Plant Corn In Utah?

Corn is a tender vegetable plant, which means that it cannot tolerate temperatures below freezing (32 degrees F or 0 degrees C - the temperature at which water freezes).  If it is still freezing at night then it it too cold for tender vegetables.  Therefore, you should plant corn starting several weeks before the average last frost date for your area.  This way when the tiny plants germinate, they will be safely past that frost date.   Generally, the last average frost date for the Wasatch Front is sometime around Mother's Day.  You can ask your neighbors or the folks at your local independent garden center when your average last frost date is.  You can extend your corn harvest in summer and fall by succession planting your corn seeds.
Corn Grows In Utah!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ephedra viridis - Green Mormon Tea - Excellent Utah Native Plant For Xeriscape!

This Utah native shrub is a great choice for a water wise landscape - it requires no water other than what falls from the sky!  Green Mormon Tea, or Brigham Tea (Ephedra viridis) is a smallish green shrub found in the wild all over the West and Southwest.  The common name comes from the fact that the Mormon settlers of Utah used it to make tea.  Ephedra plants are available at local nurseries that carry native plants.  Plant in a hot sunny area of the xeric garden and please don't give it extra water or soil amendments or fertilizers.  Like many Utah native plants, Ephedra thrives in harsh conditions and will not survive if given too many nutrients or water.
Ephedra viridis - Green Mormon Tea - excellent xeriscape plant

Ephedra viridis - Green Mormon Tea;  Utah Native Plant

Friday, March 31, 2017

When Should I Plant Cool Season Crops In Utah?

April is the time to plant cool season crops in Utah.  Cool season crops are things like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.  The lettuce and spinach can be planted from seed. The broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are purchased as small plants at the garden center and planted right into the vegetable garden in April.  Amazingly, these plants will survive a snowstorm or a light frost.  They will take off in May and June and by mid summer you will be harvesting them!  Cool season vegetables are a great way to expand your production of home grown vegetables.
home grown broccoli

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Bulbs - Perfect Flowers For Cutting!

This is one of the reasons I grow spring bulbs - tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc.  Because I love to cut them and bring them into the house.  They are so beautiful and they smell divine!  Plant some spring bulbs next fall in your vegetable garden, herb garden, cutting garden or water wise perennial garden.
You'll be glad you did!

hyacinth and miniature narcissus

When Should I Plant Rhubarb?

April is the best time to plant rhubarb in Utah.  You can buy rhubarb crowns at your local independent plant nursery.  Or, if you are lucky, you have a rhubarb-growing neighbor who will let you dig up a crown or two.  Rhubarb transplants easily in the spring before the plant has grown big.  The cool wet weather of April and May will help it get established.  Wait 2 years before harvesting from newly planted rhubarb plants.  They need to get strong and well established.
Here is another blog post about rhubarb.  Rhubarb is a perennial; it will come back year after year.
plant rhubarb crowns in the spring before the plants are too big