Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Summer Garden Crops
The peas, spinach, carrots and lettuce are sprouting and it's getting close to that summer planting time again in zone 5! The last freeze date in Utah is May 5th. However I may wait till the 15th or so this year because of the very wet cold spring we have had... I can hardly wait to plant my green beans, tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, peppers and a whole lot more delicious vegetables and fruits! Depending on how much you have to plant, I usually plan a couple of weekends to do the job. Seeds go in first, and then the plants that I always forget to grow from seed; like tomatoes, squash and peppers. For more info on specific crops and how to grow them look here.
Don't forget this year to think about Weed control. We are trying a few different things this year to help with our garden. We plant a pretty big space so each year we try something new to find the best way to control weeds and get the best yield. First, we are using black fabric for our squash, melons, and anything that is perennial or takes up a large amount of space. (Our only issue with this so far is that you need to stake it down pretty good so the wind doesn't blow it around. Also consider putting something like wood chips or mulch on top to keep it down and make it look better.) For row crops we are going to try to lay newspaper down in between the rows. You place 2-3 sheets on top of each other and water it down so it sticks to the soil and put compost, mulch on the top. I have heard this can keep the weeds down for 1-2 months. I have never tried this so I will let you know how well it works for us! The newspaper and mulch/compost breaks down and is a good soil amendment and you get less weeds win/win right?
Irrigation- This is also something we have worked on each year to improve and make less work for us each year. Also trying to be conscious of not using more than needed is important for our environment! If you live in a place where watering is not needed I am incredibly jealous. Watering is a lot of work in Utah and your plants suffer a lot if you mess it up! We have a small orchard, grapes and blackberries that we are working on putting in a drip system for. Set to a timer they should be pretty stress free once in place. We have tried flood, furrow irrigation, sprinkler and drip and for us a combination is needed to cover all the different watering needs we have. Consider the plants you have their requirements and supplies you already have to work with.
We really try to "train" our plants to have deep roots by watering them deeply (at least 8 inches) and infrequently (once every 5-7 days depending on weather). This makes your plants healthier than if you water daily and all the roots stay right on the surface of the soil! And it's better for our Mother Earth!
A few more spring tips:
*The next few weeks are also a great time to plant your annuals and containers! More to come soon about annual flower bed design. If you live in Weber County there is an amazing annual plant sale at the extension, free classes etc. look here for more info.
*Don't forget to break up your thatch layer in your yard by aerating each spring for a healthier lawn. For more tips on spring lawn maintenance look here.
*I like to add compost to my flower beds each spring from a local green dump to make my soil soft and amazing! A little each year makes a huge difference!!
*Enjoying your spring bulbs? Make sure the bulb stalk turns yellow and dies down to the base of the stalk before taking them out. Bulbs need all the energy from the leaves senescence to be able to bloom next year. When you can easily pull the stalk and it will gently snap off of the bulb it is the right time to take the stalks out and leave the bulbs in for next year!!