Fall no time to throw in the trowel

Fall no time to throw in the trowel

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Frost in Summit County and downright nippy temperatures in Salt Lake City are no reason to "throw in the trowel." Experts say you've got weeks left to enjoy your garden and keep harvesting veggies.

Millcreek Gardens co-owner LaRene Bautner says even temperature-sensitive tomatoes have through probably mid- to late-October to be fruitful.

"The tomatoes can go through quite a bit of cold weather, especially if it's gradual cold," she says, "but what you can also is cover them with a sheet, a box, a garbage can. Be watching the weather, because there's a lot of warm weather to still be had, even though it got cold last night."

**When to plant a vegetable garden**
The most hardy vegetables should be planted early in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked and include spinach, onion, pea, turnip, kohlrabi, and kale. Semi-hardy vegetables should be planted 2-3 weeks before the date of the average last spring frost in your area. Semi-hardy vegetables include beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, radish, and potato. Tender vegetables such as tomatoes should be planted after the date of the average last spring frost.-*University of Utah Extension*
How do you know if you need to cover your tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables? Bautner says a good rule of thumb is 5 degrees on either side of freezing in the forecast.

"If they say it's going to freeze tonight, I would definitely cover," she says. "If they say it's going to be close to 35, I'd probably say go ahead and cover to be sure because your plants can still give you a lot of harvest this time of year."

Bautner points out you've also still got weeks to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs and even lawns. In fact, she says the cooler weather can help them get better established without some of the same worries you have in the heat of summer.

"It's too cold when you can't work the soil anymore. You can plant as long as you can work the soil. If it's frozen in the morning and thaws out in the afternoon a bit, or there's a little bit of crust or ice on the top of the soil, you can still plant," Bautner says.

If you want to wow crowds like they do on Capitol Hill and at Temple Square, Bautner says a great trick is to go ahead and plant your bulbs now for the spring, then put pansies up on top, to enjoy the last few weeks' worth of color in your garden.

E-mail: bbruce@ksl.com

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Becky Bruce


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