As soon as our snow begins to turn slushy and the first patches of matted grass appear, I get antsy. My mind knows Mother Nature is just teasing, yet my heart can’t resist a peek in south-facing flower beds for the beginnings of daffodils. Winter is a difficult time for the gardener in us. While there is little outside that can be done, a little preparation and forethought now will pay dividends when spring is really on its way.

Make A Garden Plan

Consider your gardening goals. You may have never consciously thought you had them. Ask yourself why you garden. What do you hope to get out of it? Based on your objectives, develop a plan that utilizes the space available. If you’re most interested in economical production of fresh produce, don’t use things requiring lots of growing space or that your family doesn’t really like to eat. If you like most to simply grow lots of different things, plan that diversity into your garden plot. Don’t outline rows upon rows of corn or tomatoes and run out of room for your decorative gourds. While the consequences aren’t as extreme, you wouldn’t decide how many rooms you want in your house while at the store buying lumber. However, that is exactly the way we typically do garden planning. Regardless of your objectives, you will better fulfill them if you plan to work towards what gives you satisfaction.

What Don’t You Like?

Regardless of how much fulfillment you get from yardwork, there is certain to be some tasks that you simply dislike. Is weeding at the top of anyone’s list? As another example, if you like having potted plants but find it difficult to remember watering consistently, then plant larger pots and/or set up a simple drip system. You may want fruit trees but really don’t know how to care for them. Education is an easy fix. Internet resources are unlimited (and some are even reliable). The extension office also hosts classes each spring on pruning. Utah State University has some awesome resources to help us manage typical pests. Do weed rebellions annually overrun your petunias? This is NOT inevitable! Preemergent herbicides and various weed barrier techniques are a great way to stop a weed uprising before it starts. Identifying what STOPS you from full yard gratification and make a strategy now to avoid the trouble altogether.

Conduct Research

Is a new fruit tree or grape trellis in your future thoughts? Now is the best time to hit the internet and do a little research on what variety is going to best suit your desires. USU is our most comprehensive and targeted source for guidance. Generally, we are considered a Zone 5 for plant hardiness but I am personally more comfortable with varieties with a Zone 4 designation or lower. Depending on your very site-specific conditions, you may feel more confident than me on choosing higher zoned varieties. Take caution with online companies that claim we can grow historically non-hardy species like pawpaws, kiwis and pecans. Newer and hardier varieties are always being sought but its more likely your investment will struggle in our climate. If you’re okay with risk, then feel free to experiment. Researching varieties can be intimidating. Even if you can’t decide, your effort won’t be wasted as you will be better educated when you go to make the purchase.

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