The Grand Valley has been enshrouded in a hazy, frozen inversion (image from KJCT) for some time now, but there are still gardening tasks to keep in mind and get started on for the upcoming season.
We’ve had snow on the ground since December, but very little has melted into the soil to water your trees, shrubs and perennials. The Grand Valley is prone to “sublimation,” a process where a substance in a solid state (snow) goes directly to a gaseous state (water vapor) without going through the liquid state. Sublimation robs our soils and reservoirs of much needed water, and creates a need to water trees, shrubs and perennials every 4-6 weeks during the winter months. Plants are more prone to winter kill or damage if they have insufficient water over the winter months. Of course, Mother Nature is making this especially difficult with the current subfreezing temperatures. Continue to watch the weather for a 40 degree or warmer day and make a point of getting some water to your thirsty plants then.
On a more pleasant note, now is the time to start drawing up plans for your vegetable garden. Check the catalogs and scan the seed racks. Look for disease-resistant vegetable varieties and/or tasty heirlooms. Mt Garfield Greenhouse will be carrying a selection of grafted tomato plants this year–a process that combines a disease resistant root stock with a tasty heirloom top. Grafted tomatoes are hardier and more productive than their regular heirloom counterparts. More details to come in a future blog post!
Decide what veggies you’d like to grow. Consider what you and your family like to eat, and what you have room for. Plants like lettuce and radishes don’t take up much room, but most tomatoes require a lot! Some tomatoes, such as Husky Red and Husky Cherry Red are compact enough to grow in good-sized pots. Look for your favorite varieties and new ones when we open this spring. This year we also plan to provide recipes for different veggies to help you plan which you’d like to grow.
Another consideration as you plan is crop rotation. If you have the flexibility, it’s a good idea both from soil health and pest/disease points of view. Certain plants, tomatoes especially, deplete your soil of nutrients. Moving these plants to a different location each year can help, along with amending your soils prior to planting. Some plant diseases and pests can overwinter in soils, so rotating your crops to a different location can help you stay ahead of these issues.
Will you be planting a new veggie garden? Choose a site that will get at least six hours of sun a day, and have access to water. Plan to amend your soil with compost and fertilizer. Consider using a mulch to retain soil moisture. Raised beds are often easier to plant as well as being a bit more weed-free. Think about critters, including pets. Will you need a fence to keep those voracious bunnies out? Do you live where the deer and the antelope play, and need a taller fence? Better Homes and Gardens has even more ideas for you to consider here.