If you live in northern Utah, a vegetable garden is a likely fixture in your back yard.
And, if you’re like most gardeners, you’re always on the lookout for ways to improve the quality and quantity of your fruits and vegetables. To help you in your quest, the local experts at Millcreek Gardens have some tips and tricks to try this year.
Start With Rich, Healthy Soil
The most effective way to improve everything about your vegetable garden (and flower beds, and landscaping…) is to improve the soil.
Aside from water and sunlight, plants pull everything they need from within the soil around their roots. If they have little or nothing to use for growth, they won’t have enough energy to produce fruit or flowers.
Sure, you could spray on one of those miracle products, but those do nothing to improve the dirt or help the plants sustain their growth.
Instead, mix in compost, mulch or other soil amendments this year, before and after planting season. When you boost the soil in this way, your plants’ roots will have all the nutrients they need to produce a bumper crop of veggies all season long.
Try a New Garden Configuration
One of the most popular vegetable garden trends is raised-bed planting. With raised beds, you have much more control over soil quality, water and weeds. They also save time as well as wear-and-tear on your back.
Whether you prefer in-ground or above-ground planter beds, try what German gardeners call Hügelkulture (translation: hill culture). This approach involves mounding the dirt up in your beds to create additional surface area.
You can mound up a lot or a little, but most gardening experts recommend going to at least one foot above grade at the highest point of the mound. This also provides improved drainage for your plants.
By mounding your beds, you can create up to 20 percent more planting space without taking up any more room in your yard!
If you add trellises or string wires, you can plant your vine vegetables closer together and send them up instead of out. This will also make it easier to harvest when the time comes. You’ll increase your yield and your back will thank you when it’s time to pick!
Create Synergy with Vegetable and Plant Variety
With the right mix of plant species – and by using a succession plan – you can grow two to three times more vegetables in your garden this year.
By pairing certain plants together, you can increase your output significantly. For example, corn, beans and lettuce or squash are a classic combination. The corn stalks provide support for the beans to climb. Meanwhile, the squash or lettuce plants create a groundcover that holds in precious moisture while discouraging weeds and pests.
Lettuces also grow well beneath taller flowering plants. In fact, you can use a variety of friendly flowers in the vegetable garden. Mums, nasturtiums and roses are some of our favorites!
If you plan your gardening season carefully, our northern Utah climate will allow for at least three rounds of vegetables.
Start your seedlings indoors so they’re ready to plant as soon as the weather allows. At the end of the season, use cloches or coldframes to protect the last of your vegetables from potential frost damage. Don’t forget to add a little more soil amendment between plant cycles, to keep the harvest going well into the fall.
In Salt Lake City, Millcreek Gardens is your one-stop-shop for all of your gardening supplies. From soil amendments to seeds and garden tools, we are your local experts in northern Utah.
Stop in today and let our knowledgeable team help you with all of your Utah vegetable garden needs and questions.