More than 30 residents of southern Utah gathered at Tonaquint Park in St. George to learn the best gardening practices from horticulturist Casey Jones on Saturday.
The free landscape workshop “Spring into Veggie Gardening” provided tips on how to successfully plant and grow vegetables in the hot and dry climate of Utah, especially through the high summer temperatures.
In addition to managing and taking care of a community garden at Tonaquint Park, Jones works for the Washington County Water Conservation District, who sponsored the workshop. Thus, a big focus of the workshop was teaching attendees how to conserve water in garden practices.
“Water is a precious resource,” Jones told attendees. “The key is deep, infrequent watering.”
Even in the heat of a southern Utah summer, Jones shared that he only waters his garden once every three days, but he waters for up to two hours at a time. He says that this not only helps to conserve water, but it also protects the plant.
Watering deeply and infrequently causes plants to grow their roots deeper into the soil in search of water. During the hottest time of year, the soil on top reaches extremely high temperatures, which can fry plant roots if they haven’t grown deep enough. By watering deeply and infrequently, plants are protected from this possible burn.
Jones suggested that everyone spend some time in their own garden experimenting in order to learn how often their garden needs to be watered.
“The most frequent question I get is how often should I water,” Jones said. “Everyone’s yard and garden is different.”
Jones also discussed the importance of good soil in garden practices, asserting that soil is the number one gardening challenge in southern Utah.
Jones shared that because Utah is a desert, the soil tends to be salty, which doesn’t provide a fertile environment for plants to grow in. Because of this, Jones said that it takes time to create good soil and gardeners will often need to add outside materials to better it.
“The very best thing you can do to your soil is add compost,” Jones explained.
Compost is an organic material created by decomposing waste products such as food scraps and yard clippings. It is rich in nutrients that plants can use to grow faster and healthier.
To learn more about proper compost, Jones recommended reading the book “Let it Rot!” by Stu Campbell and attending his future workshops where he would discuss composting more in depth.
WCWCD holds workshops such as this periodically throughout the year. There will be another “Spring into Veggie Gardening” workshop on March 20 at 10 a.m. at Tonaquint Park.
Their next class will be virtual and discuss irrigation systems on Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. To find out more information about upcoming classes, WCWCD’s event schedule can be found on their website.
These community events promote the wise use of water and are free to the public.
Story by: Lainey Cartwright
Cover photo by: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Body photo by: Lainey Cartwright