Even though it snowed this morning and there’s no sign of spring, it’s time to start planning the garden again. Every year I get excited to garden as spring approaches; however, as the hot summer descends my enthusiasm wanes and Nancy ends up doing most of the weeding and watering during the summer. Every year I plan to improve and do more gardening work in the summer. “I’ll get up early and work outside when it’s not so hot”, I tell myself. I know I’ve said that in the past but this year I really mean it. Hope springs eternal I suppose.
Some things I learned from last year:
- I need to protect broccoli from cutworms. Last year cutworms destroyed all my broccoli plants. Our house is situated on an old alfalfa field (and sugar beets before that) and as it turns out cutworms like alfalfa. Cutworms are active in spring and broccoli is a spring crop so my poor broccoli plants didn’t make it. I’ll try yet again to get some broccoli this year even though I’ve never successfully harvested a single head after several years of effort
- Utah summers are too hot for ever-bearing and day-neutral strawberry varieties. Thus, all those Ozark Beauty plants we planted last year will (hopefully) bear in the spring and then not do too much the rest of the year. Oh well, strawberry plants have a lifespan of only a few years before they need to be overhauled so the next time we plant a patch we’ll go with June bearers
- We should have put straw over the strawberries to protect them from the winter. They look pretty scraggly in the picture above. Although I’m sure they’ll perk back up again when spring comes, they would be better off if we had covered them for the winter
- We need taller stakes and trellises for the beans and tomatoes. They should be about 7 feet high instead of the current 3 feet that we have
- I need to prune my tomatoes such that I don’t end up with two stems. I somehow managed to prune the tomatoes in such a way that the main stalk branched off into two stalks. This made the stalk much more fragile. I think I probably started pruning it too aggressively early on. This year I’ll wait a bit longer before I start the pruning. I really couldn’t see any difference in my tomato production after pruning them but I’ll stick with it another year – practice makes perfect.
- My kids actually enjoyed the beets we planted. I didn’t think they would eat them but they did. I never liked bottled beets as a kid but fresh beets are pretty good so we’ll do that again this year.
- If you don’t want strings in your bottled beans you need to pick the beans when they’re younger and more tender.
Of course the great thing about gardening is that if you mess things up you can always try again next year. I only wish it wouldn’t take so long in between seasons.