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Gardening 101


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Basic gardening instructions for beginners

Basic gardening instructions for beginners

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  • 1. Gardening 101
    Books: Sunset New Western Garden Book
    Trowel and Error, Over 700 Tips, Remedies and Shortcuts for the Gardener
    by Sharon Lovejoy
    Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
    Websites: Check it out – there are many handouts and fact
    sheets of several garden topics. Very informative – Offers gardening tips for the
    current month and provides information on several garden topics.
    Early Spring: Prune trees, shrubs, summer/fall blooming perennials
    Clean out dead organic material
    Divide perennials
    Soil Preparation: Remove sticks, stones, and clumps from soil
    Turn soil by digging or rotor-tilling. This aerates the soil, improves structure.
    Incorporate organic matter – compost
    Test Soil: Check out the USU website above. USU offers a soil testing service. The
    information you receive is well worth the effort and money if you want to be a
    successful gardener.
    Soil pH: pH scale Acid ------------------------------Neutral-----------------------------Alkaline
    Most plants prefer a pH of 7-8. There are a few exceptions. Learn about your
    plants needs and provide the best environment for them.
    Enrich the soil: Organic material
    Fertilizer labels have three numbers.
    Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Potassium
    Nitrogen is for top growth/greening
    Phosphorous is for fruiting/flowering
    Potassium is for overall health, rooting/color
    Planting: Davis County, Utah is in USDA Zone 5, Western Garden/Sunset Zone 2
    Our average last day of frost is May 10. First day of Frost is October 5th
    General Rule of thumb for Davis County: Plant after Mother’s Day or May 15th.
    For more information on freeze dates and Utah’s climate go to
    Consider the type of plant, cool season or warm season. Cool season plants can be
    planted earlier than May 15th.
    USU has given the following suggested planting dates for the Wasatch Front
    Suggested Vegetable Planting Dates for the Wasatch Front
    by Shawn Olsen, USU Extension Agent
    Plant GroupAverage Planting DatesPlants to considerGroup A:HardyPlant as soon as the soil dries out in the spring.March 15 – May 1Artichoke, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Onions, Peas, Radish, Rhubarb, Spinach, TurnipGroup B:Semi-HardyPlant a week or two after “A” group or about two weeks before average last spring frost. March 20 – May 1Beet, Carrot, Cauliflower, Endive, Lettuce, Parsley, Parsnip, Potato, Salsify, Swiss ChardGroup C:TenderPlant on the average date of the last spring frost – about when first apples reach full bloomMay 5 – June 1Celery, Cucumber, Dry Ban, Snap Bean, Spinach, Summer Squash, Sweet CornGroup D:Very TenderPlant when the soil is warm, about two weeks after “C” groupMay 20 – June 10Cantaloupe, Eggplant, Lima Bean, Pepper, Pumpkin, Tomato, Watermelon, Winter Squash,
    Special Plants for Fall Harvest
    Average planting datesBeetsJuly 1 – August 1CabbageMay 1 – July 15KaleJuly 1 – August 15LettuceJune 1 – August 1OnionAugust 1 – August 10RutabagaJune 15 – July 1SpinachJuly 1 – August 15TurnipJuly 1 – August 1
    Extend your growing season:
    Protect tomatoes with Walls of Water or other protection
    Use small PVC pipe to create a dome tent (green house) over planting
    Plant a second crop later in the season for a fall harvest as indicated
    Begin plant starts indoors before moving to the garden
    You can make your own plant starter pots with newspaper – they
    are biodegradable and plant and paper both can be put into the
    garden. See for instructions and tools.
    Where to Plant: Know your yard and how much sun and shade your plants will receive
    Exposure to sun - Full sun: 6-8 hours full sun
    Partial Sun: 4-6 hours full sun
    Partial Shade: 4-6 hours filtered sun
    Full Shade: Less than 4 hours full sun
    Deep shade: No sun
    Microclimates: South side – most sun
    East side – am sun/ pm shade
    North side – mostly shade
    West side – pm direct sun/ am shade
    Rotation: Rotate plants from year to year to avoid soil depletion and bug infestation
    Consider plant group when rotating – all plants in one group pull the same
    nutrients from the soil
    How to plant: Read seed packets for specific information
    Consider Square Foot Gardening instead of rows to conserve space (see Book
    listed above)
    Sets – Dig hole, add organic matter, break apart roots, plant, root starter
    Give water to newly planted items
    Maintenance: Mulch will prevent evaporation, control weeds and will look nice
    Soil pep makes a nice mulch
    Water: Know your plants needs – plants have different watering needs, look at the fact sheet
    from the web sites listed above.
    Many of us overwater -
    Types of irrigation: Drip, Sprinkler, Soaker hoses
    Schedule: Take time to write up a watering schedule – it will simplify your work later
    Weeds: Pull weeds while soil is moist and when weeds are small
    Bring a digging tool, bag and scissors with you
    Dead Head: cut off dead blooms of flowers
    Pull weeds before they bloom to prevent weeds seeds from dropping into the soil
    Problems: USU Extension – Master Gardeners are available at the County Courthouse M-F
    from 9-12 to answer questions. Bring in a sample of your plant to show the
    problem. If they cannot answer the question, they will send it onto the Plant
    Fall: Harvest and Winterize
    Consider covering your beds to protect from seed pods and other debris falling into your
    garden area