Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Pruning Basics...

Hey everyone! Spring is the best time to prune certain types of landscape plants as you probably know. I have been contemplating blogging about pruning for weeks now because I think personally that it is much easier to learn correct pruning by watching a demonstration than reading it from a book/blog. BUT, I just found that the extension has these amazing demonstration video's that will tell you how to prune your landscape plants in full detail. Get your pruners sharpened while you watch these fun pruning video's and learn how to train your plants to be more healthy and aesthetically beautiful! The three I found are fruit tree pruning, rose pruning, and multi-stem shrub pruning. (This first video is WELL WORTH YOUR TIME but is about 29 minutes long so be warned to set aside the time before watching) Fruit Tree Pruning http://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/MattPalmerPruning.wmv

The next video is for rose pruning...hope you enjoy! (From the Utah State University Extension is my old boss and Weber County Horticulturist Jerry Goodspeed)


The third one is for pruning landscape shrubs such as dogwood, lilac etc... (but, the best time to prune a lilac is AFTER it blooms!)


This last video is just my favorite song about vegetables!! Just for fun... (veggie tales theme song)


Get a head start on your pruning before your trees and shrubs leaf out! Happy pruning! Many Thanks to the Extension and their awesome public-educating ablilties!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bare Root Bliss!

A highlight of my week was visiting local nurseries to search for bare root plants. I love bare root plants for many reasons, first they are cheaper!- this is a big plus, honestly if the bare root plants don't sell in a nursery they pot them up and sell them for more. You might as well get them for less. (I found some grape vines this week that were 4.99 each! In the pot they are usually $15-$30 each) Second, it is easy to inspect the root system and get a healthy plant. Look for a root system that is large and has some healthy white areas. My opinion is that plants are healthier going from unlimited space to unlimited space- no pot needed, put them in the ground right away. Look for bare root plants that are not leafing out already, the more dormant they are the better.

Make sure you get them in the ground right away after purchase so they have optimum conditions!

Things you can find bare root:

Fruit trees of all kinds...(The cheapest way to buy healthy fruit trees)

Asparagus (remember you shouldn't harvest till the third season, but after the wait they are well worth it- 1 plant will produce for 50 years!)

Raspberries both ever-bearing and June bearing

Strawberries (It is much cheaper this way- you are going to replace them every 3-4 years anyway for the best production)

Grapes- Again there is 3-5 years of training till they start producing, bare root gets them in the ground earlier for more seasonal growth/settling.

Blackberries-(awesome growing in zone 5 you most likely get more blackberries than raspberries with fewer plants)

I have heard you can find some ornamental plants bare root also- although I have yet to find a nursery in my area that carries them. I also found a number of other berries at the nursery I went to. Check it out at local nurseries- some specialize in bare root plants in the spring so call around and find a nursery that has everything you need. It feels good to get them in the ground and ready to grow in the right place so early!

Here is a link from the University of Nebraska Extension site for more info on bare root plants


Happy Gardening!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Preparing and Improving Garden Soil

The sun is shining the grass is green... well almost...tiny buds are forming on your trees and your bulbs are starting to put on a show! It's time to talk about Soil! No, it is not dirt people!, dirt is a dirty word in the word of gardening! If you have already planted Cole crops you are probably thinking it's too late, but I think it's never too late to amend your soil. The first thing I would do is pick up a soil test from your nearest extension office. Your soil test will give you instructions on how to take a soil sample and send it in to be tested. This way you will know exactly what you have to work with and what to add to get the best results. You will only invest about $14.00 or so and you will know so much more! After you get results you can make some good educated improvements.

While you are waiting for your results here is a general rule of thumb on what you can do to improve your soil.

Areas you have not planted are still very workable and usually the best time to amend soil is in the early spring or late fall. Make sure your soil is moist, but not wet. You can test the moisture level by taking a handful of soil 3 inches deep from the garden and squeeze it firmly. Drop it on the sidewalk, if the ball shatters it is a good consistency to work. (if it is too wet you may destroy the natural clods in the soil, making the structure not as effective for growing)

The absolute best thing you can do for your soil (and any type of soil) is to add organic materials. (i.e.: sawdust, manure, leaves, needles from conifers, wood chips, compost or peat moss) Organic materials will improve soil structure and workability and productivity.

Warning: Although an excellent source of organic matter Manures will almost always contain weed seeds!

When soil is workable in spring, spread a 2-6 inch layer of organic material and some nitrogen fertilizer to your soil. (1 qt ammonium sulfate(21-0-0) per 100 square feet of area, per inch of organic material) Till to a depth of 6-8 inches. Make sure the soil is only tilled to leave marble sized particles in the soil. I know it is tempting but Do not over-till!

The Utah State University Extension recommends that you use the soil you already have instead of bringing in large loads of new soil so you don't introduce new problems/weeds, or interface issues to your existing problems...
Always inspect any soil before you bring it into your yard.
I hope this will give you some ideas of how to improve your soil and quality/quantity of your home grown food!

Just for fun here is a link to a very good article about self-reliance and gardening!


My references for today come from...The Utah State University Extension website:


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Secrets of Growing Carrots Unveiled!

Have you ever grown your own carrots?
Homegrown carrots are one of the sweetest most delicious things on the planet!! It's hard to buy them at the store after one taste. The problem is they are a little tricky to get to germinate and grow in some places... Want to know some simple secrets to grow enough for a whole year? and how to store them through the winter? Never buy the tasteless carrots from the grocery store again!

Carrots need cool weather (anything between 32-75 degrees is perfect), fertile well-drained soil and plenty of sun. I like to plant my carrots twice a year in zone 5- in the early spring and mid-summer for a fall harvest. You can plant a third crop in late fall also and harvest in early spring. If you live in a climate that is moderate i.e. (my Californians!) you may be able to plant all year long every four weeks or so!
Carrots are always planted by seed- plant no more than 1/4 inches deep and thin after germination to 3 inches apart. Irrigate consistent and even for best results.
Prepare the soil before planting with plenty of organic material and some complete organic fertilizer. For more on Organic Fertilizers which I highly recommend for anything you will eat check this link:


Make sure the soil is loose and deep- last year my carrots were short and fat because they hit the hard pan and couldn't grow any deeper.
Here are a few things I learned that greatly enhanced my carrot yield!

Carrot Secret #1-- Cover Seeds with a heavy mulch (leaves, straw etc.)to help with germination. This keeps the moisture even and you will get better results with germination and growth! No more tears over non-germinating carrots! You can actually keep the mulch on to cool the soil in hot temperatures. For fall grown carrots mulch also helps if you want to store your carrots in the ground over the winter- just dig when needed.

Carrot Secret #2-- Raised beds are the way to go with carrots- dig your beds to add 4-6 inches of soil to ground level and see your carrots grow easily deeper and more beautiful! Remember loose, deep, organic-material rich soil!

There are many new varieties of carrots out there so experiment a little; you can even find a purple variety that is so pretty and SO good for you! Check with your local extension and find tested and true varieties that will do well in your area.

Here is a link for suggested varieties in Zone 5


Want to know more about Carrots? Here is a link to my reference: the Utah State University Extension publication on carrots..


Enjoy the process- growing/eating carrots can be a lot of fun! And good for you too! Love that Vitamin A!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's time to plant your cole crops!

Did you know Cole crops can be planted as early as this weekend in zone 5? In other zones you can plant cole crops about 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. If you are like me and love gardening you are anxious to get out in the garden with a shovel and get the ground ready to plant your peas, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, radishes, spinach, and onions. I also might try Rhubarb, and Asparagus this year to add some perennial vegetables. In a few months I hope to have a pretty good salad growing! I have had my garden plowed and tilled last fall right before the first snow so it would be ready early in the spring. (If you haven't tilled yet, get out tilling- I also add quite a bit of organic matter to the soil each year- i.e. manure, or leaves, kitchen scraps etc. It is not to late to incorporate some of that in when you till. It also helps to add a complete fertilizer (one with all three numbers N-P-K) to the soil before planting.
The first thing I do is go out with a shovel and make rows of raised beds for each vegetable I want to plant. I try to raise the ground level at least 6 inches for best results. Raised beds allows for better drainage, less compaction of the soil and overall a happier plants.
Out of all the Cole crops peas are my favorite so I will focus on them the most! I found last year that sugar snap, are my personal favorite. Varieties like Super Sugar Snap, Snowflake, and Sugar Daddy have been tested and do well in zone 5. They grow quickly, and have an edible pod- easy to eat while you are weeding. They like the soil temperature to be 40 degrees F. before planting. If you are like me and still have snow on your garden you may have to wait one more week before planting. :(

Plant seeds 1" deep 1-2 inches apart in rows 12-24 inches apart. In Utah the weather will pretty much take care of them and you won't have to water them till about April-May. Germination takes place in 7-10 days if the soil is warm enough. We got quite a few peas last year and the kids loved eating them raw straight from the garden. Nothing is sweeter and more nutritious! When the weather gets above 80 degrees you will see your plants start to decline. This is normal. They are a cool season crop and I usually till them back into the soil in about June. (They are an excellent source of Nitrogen if tilled back into the soil.)

Do you have questions about another Cole crop? Let me know in a comment!
I hope you enjoy your Cole crops as much as I do....