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Gardening Series – Late Winter/Early Spring Preparation

I have always loved plants. Being raised by a mother who loves to garden meant that our chores growing up largely revolved around the garden each summer. I didn’t mind, though, I liked them. Even weeding. Over the years, living in apartments and townhomes, I would grow different plants in boxes or pots . Although you make do with what you have, I really wanted to have a garden. I bought my first house two years ago, and I made the decision based mainly on the size of the yard. I moved in to my new house at the end of July that year and was eight months pregnant, so I did very little in the garden the first year. That year, I just planted a few herbs – still growing each year – and three trees in the back yard. Last year, however, I really started to develop a garden, and this year, I’m starting even earlier to get my yard prepped and ready to take advantage of the entire Utah growing season.

My backyard is about 80% grass; it descends toward the back fence. Any space that has dirt was initially filled with rocks from the previous owners. A sweet neighbor, an older gentleman, came and moved all of the rocks out for me. Last Spring, we added a driveway section next to the main driveway, and I hauled the sod from that space into the backyard and turned it over the section of grass where I wanted to start gardening. I had a pretty blank slate across the board that was ready for me to start planting. Last year, my mom helped me plant strawberries and started some tomatoes for me. I planted those along with peppers and zucchini. Strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchinis were all I managed last year.

This year, I am excited to start early. The extra time I have available thanks to the cancellation of all sports which would have otherwise occupied my free time. My main goal this spring is to terrace the back garden area so I can plant in each row. So far, I have started building the first row that already has strawberries coming back from last year (and a lot of weeds). To tackles the weeds, I am using the Spear and Jackson digging fork my mom raced about (and now I understand why). It is build incredibly solid and is great at leaving the roots of plants you want to leave alone. I have been digging out the levels of the backyard terraced garden so each row will have a pathway and a terraced bed on either side. My plan is get stepping stones for the pathway and bricks or pavers for the beds. I going to lay down fabric to limit the weeds and bark over that.

In addition to the terraced garden, I have the normal ToDo list of garden work to do in the spring. That list include learning aways dead plants, weeding, and fertilizing. For the grass, I need to spray with Iron-x and till dirt. Finally, something that I remember my mom doing every year because we’ve always lived in places with a shorter growing season, I am going to plant seeds in seed trays to get a head start on growing outside. The process of planting and caring for the seedlings takes some work. Every day after the seeds are planted until they are ready to go outside, I’ll need to move the plants into sunlight every day in the house and then outside to inside once the weather warms up. This takes a lot of care and attention – and I can’t wait. There is something about growing and caring for plants that feels so needed during this time of quarantine and crisis. I think it’s about hope – the hope that these seedlings will be nurtured into strong plants – and the hope that this too, will pass.



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