Top 10 // How to Keep Your Grass Green the Smart Way

Green Lawn

It’s that time of year when it seems like no matter how much you water your lawn, it still goes brown. USU Extension can help!

The Grass Is Greener… On Both Sides!

Contrary to popular belief, there is so much that can be done to keep your lawn green without wasting water. Utah is the second driest state in the nation based on annual precipitation, yet among the top per capita users of water!

Do you know where most of that H2O is going? Yep, that’s right, straight into the dirt. Over 60 percent of residential water usage is used outdoors!

Of course it’s preferable to have a green lawn, but once you see the cost that excessive watering has on your bank account and the environment, those yellow patches and prickly grass blades suddenly seem much more endearing.

Fortunately, USU Extension has figured out a way to make the grass greener on both sides! Here are 10 tips to help keep your lawn green during the roasting summer heat. Do you want to know what the best part is? Most of these tips are free and will actually help you save money!



Be a Hero! // 5 Tips for Saving Garden Seeds

Saving Garden Seeds

Be a gardening hero by learning how to save your own garden seeds!

A Seed Saved is a Seed Earned

Have you ever saved your own seeds? If you haven’t, now is the time to try it! Saving seeds has a ton of great benefits for you and your garden. Here are some of the reasons you should try saving seeds:

1. Money Savings. Saving seeds means saving money. Free things are always better!
2. Regional Adaptation. Crops grown in your own soil will produce seeds that will thrive in your environments. Commercially purchased seeds will be less acclimated to the soil and conditions of your garden.
3. Seed Security. If you save your own seeds, you know exactly what you can plant next season. Large corporations have consolidated the seed industry to focus more on hybrids. When you save your own seeds, you control the supply.
4. Consistent Quality. Commercial companies often sacrifice quality to remain competitive on price. Saving your own seeds ensures that the seeds you will use next season are top quality.

To help you get started, hop on over to the Organic Forecast to find 5 essential tips for collecting and storing garden seeds!

Which fruits and veggies are you looking forward to saving this year?


The Organic Forecast
Mother Earth News

Let’s Jam! // Making Homemade Jams and Jellies

Let's Jam

With berries and other fruits in season, right now is the best time to start jamming!

Making Jam is Berry Easy

If you have berries from your garden coming out of your ears, making fruit spreads is a wonderful way to use them up. It might seem intimidating, but with the right recipes and tips, making jams and jellies is fun and simple.

Jam or Jelly?

First things first, do you know the difference between jam and jelly?

Jam is made by boiling fruit and sugar to a thick consistency and has fruit bits.

Jelly is made by boiling sugar, the juice of fruit with gelatin or pectin, and doesn’t have fruit bits.

There are also other delicious spreads made with fruit such as marmalade, fruit preserves, fruit compote and fruit butter!

Don’t know where to get started? Here is a fact sheet from USU Extension with more than 20 delicious recipes!

For a great way to enjoy your delicious garden strawberries all year long, try this simple freezer jam recipe. Not only is it easy, but this jam will last in your freezer for up to one year. Now that’s a good reason to get into a sticky situation!

Freezer Strawberry Jam

• 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
• 4 cups sugar
• 1 (1.75 ounce) package dry pectin
• 3/4 cup water

Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.
Place tops on the containers and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Recipe courtesy of Carolyn Washburn, Extension professor.


Freezer Jams

Top 10 // Veggies and Herbs to Grow in Cool, Wet Weather

Top 10 Veggies

Don’t let a wet spring dampen your spirits! Find out how you can utilize the cool, wet weather and make the most out of any rainy day in your garden.

Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!

This past spring has been especially wet. Although you may not be enjoying this wet weather, your garden is soaking it all in. Visit organic forecast.org to find out which veggies and herbs thrive the most in wet conditions. It’s okay to embrace the rain!



Top 10 // How to Attract Bees and Butterflies

Top 10 Ways to Attract Bees

Create a buzz in your garden by attracting bees and butterflies! Not only are these little creatures beautiful and lively, bees and butterflies provide many benefits to your garden’s health.

Why Bees and Butterflies?

Little children can often be seen with giant grins on their faces running around the yard chasing butterflies. While bees don’t offer the same entertainment, they still provide numerous benefits to your garden.

Most vegetables in your garden such as squash, cucumber, tomato and eggplant require pollination by insects. Bees are so important, it has been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat! Bees and butterflies also play a critical role in the production of seeds for flowers, which keeps your garden full and vibrant.

Follow these top 10 tips to attract bees and butterflies and make sure that your garden is healthy, happy, and ready to buzz.



New Utah Public Gardens Website!

Utah Public Gardens

Did you know that Utah has a variety of public gardens? These gardens span across Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Washington County. Each garden is unique and provides different, fun, and educational opportunities to the public.


Check it Out!

The new Utah Public Gardens website is dedicated to providing Utahns with valuable information about each public garden. It serves as a gateway to each unique garden and offers a glimpse into the gardening culture of Utah.

You can search for public gardens in Utah by going to the find a garden page. More information about each garden can be found through the links to their individual websites.

To find fun and educational activities for you and your family, visit the Utah Public Gardens website and take advantage of the great pool of information and resources.



This article was written by Leah Calder, a USU Extension Marketing Assistant.

Be Careful! Frost is Still Likely

Frost Still Likely
Although spring has sprung, be cautious when planting. These warm Utah temperatures have tempted gardeners to get a head start on their crops and gardens. But don’t be fooled! Utah is notorious for sudden weather changes and frost is still likely to occur this time of year.

Frost and Growing Seasons

This unusually warm weather has gardeners itching to get in the dirt. It is exciting to think of all the possibilities this warm weather has welcomed. However, please remember that frost is still likely and can directly affect your growing season. This depends on your individual location and garden setting.

Mountain benches have longer growing seasons. Urban and suburban areas are slightly warmer due to the urban heat effect, which could delay frost.

Consider the following:

• Hardy vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach, can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. This usually ranges between 45 and 60 days before the average last frost.
• Semi-hardy plants, such as beets, carrots, lettuce and potatoes, can be planted one to two weeks after the hardy group.
• Tender vegetables, such as celery, cucumbers, corn and most beans, should be planted on the average last-frost date.
• Very tender plants, such as squash, beans, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, should not be planted until at least a week after the average last frost.

If you have lost plants to frost, you are not alone! All you can do is try again. For more information on fruit and vegetable gardening, visit the USU Extension website at: https://extension.usu.edu/yardandgarden/.



This article was adapted by Leah Calder, a USU Extension Marketing Assistant. It was taken from an earlier article written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist.

The Word on Bird Flu, It Might Affect You!

Bird Flu Blog

There has been quite a buzz about avian influenza, commonly called “bird flu”, but could it really affect you? If you have backyard chickens, then the answer is yes. Here are 5 quick tips from USU Extension to keep your chickens healthy and happy. Good cluck!

1. Do not co-mingle chickens and other poultry with waterfowl.

Waterfowl are the natural hosts of bird flu. Even though waterfowl may not show signs of illness, they can still be carriers of the flu.

*Counties adjacent to large bodies of water where migrating waterfowl tend to congregate are at greater risk, including Box Elder, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Juab and Utah counties.

2. Provide clean drinking water for your chickens.

Water for your chickens should be clean and chlorinated. If possible, use water from a culinary source. Never allow your chickens to have access to swamps, ponds or ditches because water from these sources could easily cause illness.

3. Avoid visiting neighbors’ chicken flocks.

You never know if your neighbors’ chickens are sick and infected. Although their chickens might seem healthy, sometimes it takes a little while for symptoms to appear.

4. Use dedicated footwear and outerwear when caring for your flock.

You never know when you might come in contact with viruses. To stay on the safe side, only use footwear and outerwear that is dedicated to caring for your flock. To make this easier, leave boots and coveralls in an adjacent covered container.

5. Keep chickens in an escape-proof enclosure.

Chickens can stay in backyard runs or coops. Make sure they are completely covered with wire or netting. Housing your flock in an enclosed space will keep them away from other birds that might contaminate them.

For further information, a recorded presentation of a recent webinar on avian influenza presented by David Frame and Warren Hess can found here.

Get Ready to Garden!

Get Ready to Garden Blog

The first day of spring is right around the corner. This means that the growing season is right around the corner too! Get ready to garden and enjoy the beautiful weather with these helpful resources from USU Extension.

Author – Taun Beddes, USU Extension Horticulturist

With the growing season fast approaching, many people are anxious to work in the yard. This can be fun for some, but overwhelming for those new to gardening, concerned about major pest or disease problems or installing a new landscape.
Fortunately for gardeners, Utah State University Extension offers free or low-cost resources to assist in horticulture and many other areas and has offices that serve every county in the state. Additionally, recommendations are research-based and nonbiased.
For someone new to gardening, getting started can be confusing. USU Extension offers help with free, easy-to-follow fact sheets for commonly grown vegetables. The fact sheets include information about when to plant, how to prepare the soil, how to fertilize, harvest times and solutions to common problems. Fact sheets can be found at:http://extension.usu.edu/productionhort/htm/vegetables/home-vegetables. Another resource on vegetable varieties for the home garden is available at: http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/Horticulture_Vegetables_2014-02.pdf.
Deciding which fruit tree to plant can be difficult. Mike Pace, USU Extension agent in Box Elder County, home to Utah’s famous fruit way, has built a web page with fruit varieties and descriptions that can be helpful to home growers. It is available at: http://extension.usu.edu/boxelder/htm/fruit.
During the growing season, it is common to find landscape or garden plants that look unhealthy, but it can be difficult to determine what is wrong. Local USU Extension offices are available to assist, and USU Extension also has a pest and disease diagnostic lab with scientists who can diagnose plant samples mailed to them. They charge $7 per sample to cover costs. Click http://utahpests.usu.edu/uppdl/ for information. Another service the pest lab offers is their free, email Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Advisory with updates on how to manage pests and diseases in fruits and vegetables. Their pesticide spray recommendations include lower-risk and organic options. To subscribe, visit http://utahpests.usu.edu/ipm and you will receive email updates throughout the growing season. They do not share email addresses.
Soil is one of the most neglected but important considerations when starting a new yard or garden. Soil testing can determine if soil in a particular area is suitable for growing crops and landscape plants. Testing is inexpensive and useful in identifying or eliminating soil as the factor in an area where plants consistently struggle. The USU Analytical Laboratory can test soil for such things as nutrient levels, soil texture, salinity and pH. Visit the website at: www.usual.usu.edu. The form for soil testing can be downloaded at:http://usual.usu.edu/forms/soilform.pdf. The routine test can be very beneficial for homeowners and hobby gardeners.
Another common concern many gardeners have is selecting the right trees for their landscape. An online, interactive program is available at www.treebrowser.org.  The program allows users to list their desired characteristics, and a list of compatible trees with pictures is then generated.
USU Extension also offers information in many other areas including food preservation, finances and youth development. Visit extension.usu.edu for further information.

Ask a Specialist: Tomatoes in Winter a Possibility


By: Taun Beddes, USU Extension horticulturist, 801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu

Most people would love to eat freshly grown tomatoes year round. Though tomatoes can be grown in the winter in a greenhouse, this can become expensive with the costs of heating and supplemental lighting, in addition to the cost of the greenhouse. The most likely option for hobbyists who want homegrown tomatoes throughout the year is to grow them in containers indoors. Consider this information.

  • Since most tomato varieties suitable for indoor use are only available as seeds, it is important to learn the basics of starting seeds indoors. The University of Minnesota has a helpful fact sheet available at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/flowers/starting-seeds-indoors/. Since the tomato plant will be grown indoors, planting dates can be disregarded.
  • Smaller tomato varieties are best suited for indoor growing. These often only grow 1 to 2 feet around. A few varieties that may work well include Tiny Tim, Micro Tom, Terenzo or Lizzano. These seeds can be found online.
  • For growing, choose a bright location such as a south or west-facing window to maximize the amount of sun the tomatoes receive. The window should not be drafty. Temperatures below 50 degrees can harm tomatoes, and temperatures above 90 degrees may inhibit fruit set. Grow tomatoes under a cool-white florescent light. If using compact florescent bulbs, make sure they are at least 100 watt equivalent or greater. Make sure the tops of the plants stay within 3-6 inches of the bulbs. Adjustable desk lamps or inexpensive shop light fixtures suspended from chains are commonly used lights. It is not necessary to purchase more expensive, specialized grow lights or systems.
  • Make sure the container is large enough to accommodate the root system. For the smallest varieties, a 1-gallon pot is sufficient. For larger varieties, choose a 2 or 3-gallon pot, and note that it is better to have a pot that is too large rather than one that is too small. Additionally, as long as the growing container has drainage holes, the material it is made from is less important.
  • Choose a good peat moss-based potting soil for indoor plants. Never use soil from the yard. Fertilize with a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer, either granular or liquid, and follow the package instructions. Be careful not to over water, and allow the soil to dry out moderately between irrigations.
  • A large plant that is well cared for will likely produce more, but may require more maintenance. The smaller varieties are more of a novelty and are less work, but will likely only produce enough fruit for an occasional salad or sandwich. At any rate, tomatoes in the winter can be a delicious treat and can also help brighten up a dreary winter home.