It’s January! A new year means so many things. New goals. New adventures. New growth. It’s also time to start thinking about spring planting if you are a gardener. I know, I know…you may be thinking “But it’s only January! I have plenty of time!” It’s true, you do have a couple months before it’s officially time to plant, but it is never too soon to start prepping your vegetable garden for spring planting. We are going to share a few tips and tricks for prepping your vegetable garden for spring planting, including what you can do right now to get things ready!
Here in Utah, we often experience a January thaw…it makes it feel a little like spring, but don’t get too excited. February has a sneaky way of bringing winter right back. So, while it’s not time to start fertilizing that soil, there are things you can do now to make the task even easier in the months to come. One of the best things you can do is to keep your compost pile going, even though it’s cold outside. Keep it well-fed with kitchen scraps cut no larger than 2 inches. Alternate with equal amounts of chopped straw, wood shavings, shredded dry leaves, or turn-up newspaper. Keep it warm by wrapping it in insulation or bubble wrap and put a clear lid on it to capture any sunlight. Composting may slow down or halt when the temps drop below freezing, but never fear! As soon as it warms up it will churn right back up again.
Photo: Rodales Organic Life
March is the time in Utah to begin those early spring crops. First, pick all those early spring weeds before they become big pests. Repair any raised beds that are sagging or rotting. A few weeks before planting, mix in that good compost you have been working with all winter. Or, check out a local garden shop for fresh organic compost to purchase. Mix it in with a garden fork and let it rest. Cover with a thin layer of manure if desired.
Once the soil is free of ice crystals and crumbles easily, go ahead and get those early spring crops in. Common spring planting crops in Utah are peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, turnips, new potatoes, and onions. Protect the seedlings from hard frosts with tarps, buckets, or other covers. These are all fairly hardy plants, but you will get a much better yield if they are protected from the worst of the spring cold.
Follow these early spring crops with other crops that do well in your area after the last frost (in Utah, this is usually mid-May). Happy gardening!