This is a one-hour Garden Class I presented in my Greenhouse that was published nationwide
http://www.gemplers.com/ - a leading source for outdoor work supplies
This website is an excellent guide for those living here in Northern Utah, who want to know WHEN to plant certain crops.
This will give you an idea of what we are planting in our gardens throughout the year.
In our Holladay greenhouse garden, we can plant most of these crops a month earlier in most cases, because of our fantastic high tunnel cold frame greenhouse.
Buy this book and read the following chapters: Why Garden?, Make It Practical, Soil Types, Improving the Soil. This is what we've been spending a lot of time on so far this year - from Jan. until now. Besides offering "hands on" experience with growing our own food, please read these chapters to understand what is needed to be successful in growing food in Utah.
Successful Home Gardening, 2nd edition, Basic Principles and Practical Gardening Methods, by E. Gordon Wells, Jr. Cost: $11.99 (I bought mine at Costco, 5300 So. State Street, Murray)
Several people have been sifting out very rich soil from the 4at Holladay A Garden the past week. This is an ongoing chore that needs to be done for another week at least. If you like standing up and playing in the soil, you'll enjoy this job.
The entire high tunnel greenhouse is now ALL planted with a large variety of lettuce, spinach, kale and! Think of this as a "1200 square foot bowl of Tossed Salad"! We will be enjoying an abundance of fresh, home grown dark green leafy salads starting in May!
Holladay A Garden, my backyard garden, is finally starting to look beautiful again! Over the past 6 months, it looked like a war zone. We dug a 3 ft. trench through the backyard to install the micro irrigation drip line system from the house to the greenhouse. Then in March, 2 large 60 ft. elm trees were cut down and dragged around the lawn. Those who come to our garden now will now see a very different, much improved scene, thanks to many garden members!
Last Saturday in South Jordan B, 3300 So. B and our Garden we had a GREAT turnout to accomplish the very large task of cleaning up properties and getting them ready to plant! Thank you SO much to everyone who participated!
It's been a challenge to get some of our gardens tilled with all of the rain but Riverton is finally tilled, along with Taylorsville. South Jordan B should be getting tilled this week.
About a month ago we planted lots of seeds: collard, spinach and mustard greens in little organic newspaper cups that so many have helped us make. They are getting big and are ready to be planted in our other gardens this weekend! I'll need a lot of help with this fun chore. Approx. 40 plants will be placed in nearly each garden.
Our huge pile of logs from two 60 ft. trees is under control now. We've been splitting wood and getting it stacked neatly on the side of our home. We trade a bunch of this wood for peaches in the summer.
Our booth is designed and ready to go for the West Jordan Festival, Sat. April 30th. We have a slide show of our gardens playing on a TV for people to look at. Join us at this event, tell your friends to come and learn more about our group or if you like, help us hand out fliers at the festival. Details will be posted on my website calendar soon.
Growing really well outside the greenhouse are rhubarb, onions, garlic, spinach, carrots, strawberries, herbs i.e. oregano, sage, chives and especially LOTS of Sugar Snap Peas! These are not quite ready to harvest yet but you'll hear about it when they are!
We are now up to 12 properties! Home owners are handing us property and water rights faster than ever before. These are all beautiful garden areas all over the Salt Lake valley. During the next few months, I hope you'll try and visit all of them, if not work in them with us. Six properties on the west side of SL valley and 6 on the east. The west side has larger gardens than the east side, but every property is worth a lot to us! I'll update info on any new properties soon on our member's only page.
This system will help us a lot. Click here to view it:
1) Identify who is actively working in our gardens
2) Get better acquainted with each garden member
3) Promote members to leadership roles who are found through this tracking method
4) Reward active garden members with more produce and baked goods.
5) Motivate more gardens members to come and work.
6) Prove what a strong support team members have to work with.
7) Become more efficient leaders by analyzing which gardens need more attention.
March 24th, 2011 @ 7:23pm
SALT LAKE CITY — The rain stopped falling long enough Thursday afternoon for Sharon Leopardi to pull a few weeds from her backyard garden.
It's not actually her backyard. And it's not her only garden.
In this particular backyard on Logan Avenue, the 24-year-old is growing radishes, carrots and spinach. Elsewhere in her collection of backyard gardens around the city, Leopardi grows beets, onions, squash and 40 varieties of tomatoes.
And in the back room of Mountain Valley Seed at 455 W. 1700 South, she grows micro-greens such as basil and cilantro.
Leopardi is the owner of Backyard Urban Garden (BUG) Farms, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) business that uses Salt Lake City residents' backyards as places to grow, tend and harvest fresh produce to sell to consumers.
Her goal in starting the business a little more than a year ago was to prove that people can make a living growing food — even in the city.
She's a farmer whose "farm" is spread out among eight backyards — all within about five miles of her Avenues apartment.
In all, Leopardi farms about 1 acre, growing enough crops to meet the weekly produce needs of roughly 100 customers — including local restaurants.
"We need way more farmers than we have now in this country," said Leopardi, who decided to become an urban farmer after graduating from the University of Utah in 2008.
"I couldn't think of anything more important (as a career) than to grow healthy food in a sustainable way," she said. "I wanted to be involved in changing the way food is produced in this country."
BUG Farms is the type of enterprise Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker hopes to encourage through his "sustainable city" initiative.
Becker has proposed a series of zoning regulations intended to encourage sustainable living practices throughout the city. The proposed changes, to be considered in the coming months by the City Council, encourage local food production and use of renewable energy systems.
Existing city ordinances make it difficult on ventures such as Leopardi's BUG Farms. In fact, she could get in trouble for the way her business is structured — if the city were enforcing those ordinances.
Removing those barriers will encourage others to follow Leopardi's lead, opening doors to "new, innovative and sustainable practices in many areas, including urban farming," Becker said.
"We're pleased to hear our local entrepreneurs are already thinking about how to explore new potential," the mayor said.
BUG Farms is now in its second year of operation. Leopardi farmed four backyards — totaling about one-eighth of an acre — in her first year.
And she did it all by herself.
On a typical day in July, Leopardi would wake at 4:30 a.m. to start harvesting before the weather got too hot. During the afternoon, she'd respond to emails from members of her CSA and market her business in hopes of adding to that pool.
In late afternoons, she would deliver produce to her customers, until it cooled down enough for more harvesting. After dark, she would go back to her apartment and get her deliveries ready for the next day — a task that often kept her up past midnight.
"It was insane," Leopardi said. "And I didn't have a day off from May through September."
This year, BUG Farms has secured enough regular customers for Leopardi to hire two employees to help her full time throughout the growing season. She also has a year under her belt from an organizational standpoint.
"The first year had a lot of learning curves in figuring out how to be more efficient," Leopardi said.
She's also upgraded her equipment — owning a tiller instead of renting one, and purchasing a truck for deliveries — that will make her business run more smoothly, she said.
Leopardi began her farming career immediately after graduating from the U., starting as a farmhand at Mesa Farm Market in the southern Utah town of Caineville.
"It's a really beautiful place, but a really hard place to grow food," she said. "I learned a lot about hard work and the difference between gardening and actually farming — trying to produce as much as you can so you can make a living."
Leopardi then spent four months working on organic farms in New Zealand through the international program World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
"I had a guidebook that showed me all the farms willing to take on temporary, part-time workers," she said, "and I basically worked a half-day in exchange for food and a place to stay."
Leopardi also has worked locally with Wasatch Community Gardens, an opportunity that connected her with people in the community involved in food production and provided her with the confidence that she could start her own business.
BUG Farms uses a method of farming called Small Plant Intensive, which is basically a business model for growing crops in urban spaces. The model includes planting crops that grow quickly, don't take up much space and typically sell well at farmers markets.
"You can't be a hay farmer in the middle of the city, but you can be a real intensive vegetable farmer," Leopardi said.
And farming in the city makes sense, she said.
"There are so many places in the city that are great (for urban farming)," Leopardi said. "They're fenced, there's easy water access, and there are no big animals coming in an eating stuff because you're in the city.
"And the people are here."
Members of BUG Farms' CSA pay between $300 and $600 for a weekly share of the harvest, depending on the amount of produce they want and when they sign up.
For more information about BUG Farms, visit www.backyardurbangardens.com.
To learn more about Salt Lake City's "sustainable city" initiative, visit www.slcgov.com/opencityhall.