Spring garden

It’s finally time. I fertilized and prepped the soil the best I could last fall. I’ve been picking rocks throughout the year. The dirt has been nestled under a blanked of grass clippings all winter.

The dirt was perfect this morning—dry enough to work but moist enough for a good till without dust. I spent several hours working the soil and picking more rocks. Finally it was ready to plow. The carrots and peas are planted. The lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and tomatoes (under wall-of-waters) will go in Tuesday after the storm passes.

The transitional seasons are short in Utah, but if you sprout indoors, you can get in three gardens: spring, summer, and fall. What can you plant in the spring? Radishes, spinach, swiss chard, peas, beets, lettuce, cabbage, turnips, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and celery. These cold weather vegetables stand a light frost so you can start them mid-to-late March in Utah. A summer garden should be planned for Mother’s Day (10 May) and the fall garden around the fourth of July. I’ll write again later about what to plan for and include in those.

Put as much organic matter in as you can. I would start new gardens with a good layer of peat moss (sphagnum) or Nutrimulch. In Utah, you’ll surely need to lower the pH in your soil. I would recommend sending a soil sample to the extension office to have it tested so you know exactly what you need to correct. Generally, I would fertilize each time you plant with fertilizer (16-16-8), iron (such as Ironite), and sulfur. For every 180 square feet, put down four pounds of sulfur and 3/4 a quart of fertilizer and 1/4 a quart of Ironite.

Till it all in. A walk-behind tiller will produce the best results and they are the easiest to manage (I can manage mine with one hand once the rocks have been removed), but they aren’t required. Make sure you garden is as flat as possible. A sixteen foot board, level, stakes, and string are worth it after you’re done and are trying to water. Cut watering furrows with a plow or pointed hoe. Use staked strings to make your furrows straight. Make your rows 24 to 36 inches from the center of one furrow to middle of the next. You’ll then plant across the top of the rows in single, double, or triple small, planting furrows. You can run a row of beets in the middle of a double-row of carrots. I do cauliflower two to a row. Tomatoes, single, down the center. I don’t stake anything. I’d rather do my taxes then untangle dead tomatoes plants from a cage. They do just fine creeping along the ground over black plastic if you have the room.

I would recommend watering with furrows or a drip system. Drip use the least amount of water and produces the best results, but I’m not interested in moving the piping in and out so that I can till, so I go with furrows. I’d only use a sprinkler the first few times after planing to help seeds come up. I generally only use this method with corn. Generally, you’ll want to use a diffuser, fill the furrow, and let is soak for an hour. You’ll want to water your spring garden twice a week.

I you don’t have a copy of Successful Home Gardening by Gordon Well’s, order it now. It’s the bible on home gardening in the Western United States. He also has some valuable resources on his website.

5 Replies to “Spring garden”

  1. Yay, you’re an inspiration! :) I have most of my seeds started indoors under lights, and have started building my raised beds (one down, five to go, sigh). My soil is so crappy, no matter what I do to it, that I just gave up and am putting in the beds in the next couple of weeks, I hope. Then have to fence them before I can plant, because the chickens love seedlings, and I’d have to have to smack them upside the head, LOL! :)

  2. I don’t have my chickens yet (I’m waiting until the fence is up), but I am nervous about the neighbor kids messing with my garden.

  3. I’ve heard the Nutramulch is good.  For a large quantity of compost – IFA has ‘totes’ (2000 lbs = 27 cubic feet) of organic chicken compost from Oakdale.  They are the supplier of Costco’s organic eggs so this is a win-win for us – large volumes of organic compost at a competitive price – $3.70 per cubic feet or less if they agree to give you a discount.  It is on a palate that can be lifted into a truck or trailer.  I have 6 raised beds.  

    Next I want to build a 12 foot long trellis for my vining plants.
    After that, probably next summer I’ll tackle ducks (not chickens) per the “four season gardening” book.

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