Gardening and Living in Grand Style
April gardening tips…
by Michael Johnson
Utah State University Extension Agent, Grand County
Apr 18, 2013 | 2629 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Over the last couple of weeks, people have talked with me about the cool-season vegetables they have been planting, many of which can still be planted. This is especially true if those crops don’t take long to mature.

Cool- and warm-season plants

Should hot weather arrive too quickly, many cool-season crops that are planted too late won’t mature well. Also, there are always those people who “roll the dice” and plant warm-season crops such as tomatoes as soon as the air temperatures warm up. Hopefully, they covered all those warm-season plants last week when we experienced those freezing temperatures.

Generally, our last average temperature of 32 degrees Farenheit occurs around April 15, but that changes a day or two back and forth since it’s a 30-year average. As such, with warm-season vegetables, I rarely would consider planting them before the middle of April, and usually not for a week or two after since the soil temperatures are as important as the air temperatures for good growth. Warm-season plants are just that – they love the warm soil and air temperatures.

While I know people want to have that first ripe red tomato before their neighbors if you truly understand your plant’s needs as relates to soils and fertility, and you practice good watering habits, you can plant a tomato plant in the latter part of April through the very first of May, and often your plant’s growth, since you planted them at prime conditions, will catch up to those that were planted early. If you are someone who buys their plants from nurseries, I know the nurseries love those early planters since they will often be back buying new plants when those early plantings don’t survive.

Lawn care

This time of year I also always get questions about lawn grass – whether it’s putting in new grass or fertilizing. Now is a good time to fertilize, but as I have said before, always be careful with the amount of fertilizing you do for any plants. While many companies and salespeople will strongly suggest you use a specific system of fertilizing and/or say you need to fertilize often, it’s rarely truly necessary.

At most, for a spring fertilization use one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet this month or by early next month, then another one-pound application in September and another the last time you cut your grass in the fall. That is more than enough. You do need to determine what an actual pound of fertilizer is for the product you use. For example, one pound of actual nitrogen using a 21-0-0 fertilizer actually amounts to about five pounds of the product. Assuming you water correctly and your soil isn’t too compacted this fertilization schedule will result in good grass growth.

Also it’s important that we all understand that over-fertilizing is becoming a problem across our country. We want to be careful with our environment and resources.

All that being said, if your lawn is very old (say 15 to 20-plus years) your grass often won’t grow well by just fertilizing and watering. Or perhaps I should say without the overuse of resources, due to issues such as compaction. So if your lawn is older and nothing seems to work you really need to consider starting over by tilling or plowing and planting in the fall. Also be aware that rarely will just removing the old grass and laying sod improve the situation.

Thought for the day: “I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden.” —John Erskine

For more information about these topics, call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558, or email Mike Johnson at

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