Re-Connect with Mother Earth

Pumpkin Plant StartGardening is a great way to get the most out of social distancing!

by Sam Dodd

There really is nothing like home grown tomatoes. Imagine that plump, firm skin warmed by the sun and the joy of the season's first big bite of juicy goodness.

It's been a long hard winter in Cedar City, made even more so by the isolation and threat of Covid-19. We're starting to see a little more sun and this is the perfect time to get out of the house cooped up with all the kids and into your garden!

As long as you maintain the government-recommended distance from others who might pose a threat to your health, you can garden to your heart's content in Cedar City and there is no better way to re-connect with Mother Earth. There's just something about that warm soil, the sound of chirping birds, the feeling of the dirt between your fingers - it's an activity for all the senses and one in which you can definitely engage the kids too. 

Following are a few tips to help you get your game on when it comes to home gardening:

1. Size doesn't matter.
When it comes to growing a garden, size really doesn't matter! Whether you live in a small condo, a new home in Beaver or on a great big farm, you can plant a garden. It's common for people to plan big gardens in the spring and lose interest in weeding and watering as summer progresses. Only take on what you want to take care of! Remember, gardens are a lot of work, but they can be extremely rewarding too. Whether you plant one tomato in a patio pot or a hundred rows of corn, you will reap the benefits of communing with Mother Nature.

2. Start this weekend!
There is no time like the present to begin preparing your garden spot for a bounty harvest. The first step is to mix in compost. Make sure the compost is completely broken down. Here's a hint, if it still smells bad, it needs to sit awhile longer. Not into saving food scraps? You can buy compost and the local IFA, Cal-Ranch or any gardening center. If you're using a pot, box garden or relatively small raised bed, try to make sure you mix the compost at least 3 inches deep and more if possible. If you have a larger garden area, remove as many weeds as possible and use a rototiller to turn the soil and really mix in that compost. The soil in Southern Utah tents to have a high clay content. You might also want to consider preparing your beds with some peatmoss to break the soil down and improve water retention.

3. Use the Utah State University Extension Office.
It's true, different climates, soil types and geographic locations require different treatments for successful gardening. We're lucky here in Iron County to have the Iron County Utah State University Extension Office to help guide us in the art of gardening with very helpful local tips ad tricks to boost your bounty. Visit the USU Extension website or call our local office at (435) 586-8132 or stop by at 585 N Main St #4, Cedar City, UT 84721. The service can help you determine the right kind of fertilizer to use for your location and the types of plants you want to grow. Fertilizing is an important step in the gardening process and determining the right kinds of nutrients your soil needs can really help make your garden healthy and productive.

4. Plant seeds inside for an early start.
Planting seeds is a great way to save money. Seeds and a little potting soil cost far less than potted plants. This is also a great way to spend time with the family talking about the importance of nutritious food, science and nature. If you're schooling children at home, consider turning the activity into a school lesson! Keep your plants well watered and when they start to grow, set them outside in the sun to help them get used to wind and other local weather conditions.

5. Plant what you love and what you need.
Make your selection of plants a family affair! Let everyone in the family choose their favorite vegetable to focus on. Discuss together how each product will be used and/or preserved. Research together the different nutrients each vegetable requires for optimal growth. Consider the amount of sun/shade each plant will need and for optimal conditions.

Planting a garden is a great way to get outside and share so many life lessons from health and nutrition to science and horticulture. Make this the year for your best garden yet! It will improve your Duck Creek new home's curb appeal and even increase the value if you work hard to create a healthy garden space.

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