Keeping your garden lush in the heat
July 8, 2008
It’s the time of the year when gardeners have the chance to revel in their hard work from the spring. Flowers of all sorts are in bloom, whether it’s for a bouquet for a sweetheart or letting you know fruits and vegetables are in the works.
Gardening is a "green" activity in and of itself. But there are ways to be even more environmentally conscious when digging around in the dirt and banishing weeds.
Maria Barndt, the landscape gardener for Park City Municipal, said composting and recycling are key. She said most gardeners will reuse or recycle the plastic cups the plants come in. Recycle Utah will take back the one-gallon black containers and people should ask Recycle Utah about taking the smaller green containers.
The city is doing its part, Barndt said, by returning its containers to the wholesaler it purchases from. "[The company] will take back their one-gallon containers because they don’t want to repurchase them." She said almost all of the city’s parks use drought tolerant native plants to conserve water.
Aside from recycling, natural remedies are available to keep critters from tearing up your garden. Barndt recommends Milorganite, an organic nitrogen fertilizer that helps control voles that like to eat the tulips and grass in winter. It’s available from Kamas Valley Co-Op and Mountain Valley Yard and Garden in Heber City. Unlike traditional fertilizers, it doesn’t burn the plants, Barndt said. Other natural remedies she suggests include insecticidal soap sprays or diatomaceous earth for warding off creepy-crawlers.
Barndt said the most common mistake beginning gardeners make is not knowing what to plant and where. She said people should be careful when choosing plant material and where they plant. A native plant, like Wasatch penstemon, doesn’t require as much watering as other perennials.
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Another mistake people make, Barndt said, is not realizing what zone we’re in. "People bring plants from where they used to live and expect them to grow," she said. (According to Barndt, Park City’s zones are 2-4). A hardiness zone is a general guide that helps identify which types of plants are capable of growing in different regions of the world. It’s defined by the plant’s ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone. There is some criticism about the zoning system as it doesn’t take summer heat levels into consideration.
Using plants from out of the zone, beginning gardeners are setting themselves up for disappointment. However, the Park City Nursery’s Web site (www.parkcitynursery.com) offers a full list of plants that will keep local gardens looking lush and green.
Most importantly, gardeners should be conscious of water conservation during the summer. By using drought-tolerant plants, they’ll not only be doing the community favor, they’ll see the savings on your water bill.
Besides, after suffering months of backaches and sore knees it’s nice to take a break and get the most out of it. "You just don’t plant it and walk away; it takes a lot of work," Barndt said.