gardening file

Libby Tarbert works in her garden in Wellsville in this 2020 file photo. While gardening boomed from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, local experts say interest hasn’t dropped much, prompting a new “Pocket Gardener” guide from USU Extension.

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Following a massive uptick in gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic, USU Extension has released a pocket gardening reference for Utah.

“With COVID last year, we had a lot of brand-new gardeners,” Extension horticulturist Sheriden Hansen said. “We saw gardening just explode.”

The new guide is called “The Pocket Gardener: A Quick Reference Guide to Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Vegetables” and it’s available at pocketgardener.usu.edu.

With the COVID gardening boom, “we couldn’t answer all the questions that were coming in to the offices,” Hansen said. “So we decided to make a quick reference, something that we could put out there, that people could easily find and reference for some of that basic information for new gardeners.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t quite ended, Hansen said she’s seen about the same levels of interest in gardening this year as last, with one major improvement: Fewer people are putting in gardens out of panic.

“I’m not seeing quite the same level of panic, but definitely still a lot of interest and a lot of questions,” Hansen said. “It’s not so much ‘I’m throwing in a garden and putting it in for the first year,’ it’s ‘Maybe I kind of thought about it as I did this last year in panic, and I want to try it again.’”

Hansen compiled the new pocket guide along with fellow Extension experts JayDee Gunnell and Dan Drost. It condenses information on common and useful Cache Valley garden crops from Extension’s fact sheets onto a single, standardized webpage that’s easy to read on smartphones. While the pocket guide is naturally just-the-basics, it makes it easy to find more detailed info.

“Almost every crop links to a fact sheet,” Hansen said. “So if you click the title of the crop, it will link you directly back to the USU fact sheet for more information.”

The guide includes plenty of local gardening staples, as well as crops like salsify and edamame that may be new to some.

“If you see something that’s in there that you may not have grown before, maybe that’s something you want to try this next season,” Hansen said.

The guide is digital-only for now, but Hansen said Extension hopes to have printed copies available in its Cache and Davis offices within the next month. One advantage of a digital resource, however, is that Extension experts can keep adding pages for crops as the public expresses interest, Hansen said.

“The Pocket Gardener: A Quick Reference Guide to Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Vegetables” is available at pocketgardener.usu.edu.

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