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Improving Your Garden Over The Winter In Utah

Thursday, November 15, 2018 | by Scott Bennett

It’s November in Utah. The splendor of autumn leaves is beginning to fade and the temperatures have dropped into the 50’s. No snow is in sight yet in the Salt Lake Valley, but ski resorts up the Cottonwood Canyons are making plans to open soon. Winter is right around the corner. It may seem like gardening is over for the year. Perhaps you’ve already harvested what you can from your garden. Or, if you’ve never gardened, you may think that spring is the time to start one. Actually, there is a lot to do in your garden now, to ensure that you are ready to plant in the spring. If gardening is your passion, let’s talk about things you can do now to keep your passion thriving through the next few months.

1. Prep your garden for next spring.

You may think that since you’ve already pulled usable veggies out of your garden that you are done until next spring. It’s actually really important to clean your garden beds. Pull up any dead plants and clean up any rotting produce. Pull weeds. Dead vegetation left in your garden can be a mecca for pests and disease that like to feed on it. You can compost any vegetation that doesn’t have mold, mildew, or signs of any other disease. Otherwise, just throw it away. All of this residential landscaping is great for prepping your garden for next year.

Lightly add a layer of compost over your soil, then cover it with a thin layer of old mulch. You don’t want too much mulch because you don’t want to insulate the ground too much. You want it to freeze because it kills pests and some weeds.

When the snow melts in the spring, your clean beds will be ready to go. It’s a little bit chilly outside now, but you’ll still enjoy the sun on your back and the beautiful fall color still all over the Valley.

2. Test your soil.

Now is a great time to check the pH balance of your soil. If anything is off, you can add some lime to your soil now that will have the winter months to absorb into the soil. Knowing more about your soil will also tell you what other nutrients you will need to add in the spring for a successful garden.

3. Build new garden beds.

You may think it crazy to build garden beds now, but why not? If you want to expand your garden, you could build raised beds right over grass. Many home centers have discounted, bagged soil this time of the year. Make a raised bed and fill it with dirt. You will enjoy knowing that it is there all winter. And, it will be ready to go in the spring when you are.

4. Mulch leaves.

You probably have already bagged a bunch of your leaves but chances are that you have more on your grass right now. The easiest way to mulch leaves is to mow over them with a bagging lawnmower. A thin layer of shredded leaves, as they break down, can add nutrition to your soil over the winter. They are great in your composting pile as well.

5. Analyze your garden.

Think about what grew well and what didn’t. Now is the time to reflect and evaluate it while it is still fresh in your mind. When the snow starts to fly, you can spend some time searching the Internet and books for solutions for some of the problems you encountered this year. Planning is key to having a successful garden and part of the fun. If you live in Salt Lake City professional landscapers don't need to come out and check your garden. Just evaluate what you did and stay up to date online to make sure you are doing what is best for your garden.

6. Start planning your garden for next spring.

For a garden lover, it is never too early to start thinking about this. Pull out your seed packets. If they are not organized already, organize them. You can use a shoe box or a small plastic bin. Inventory what you have. You may enjoy ordering some seed catalogs or looking online. Start dreaming of what you want to do next spring. If you like salsa, for example, you could plant onions, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro. You can order seeds for next spring soon, and you will be ready to go. Have some old seeds? They may not germinate as well as newer seeds.

You may want to test them before you throw them away. To test seeds, get some paper towels that are damp but not too wet. Carefully lay 5-10 seeds on the paper towel. Cover them with another damp paper towel, then put them in a plastic bag. Check them every day or two to see if they are germinating. Leave them for the length of time that the type of seed takes to germinate. You will be able to count how many seeds germinated and how many didn’t and will get an idea if they will work for you.

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