Apricot tree getting ready to bloom pink.

An apricot tree gets ready to bloom pink.

There’s nothing like a little sunshine added to the reentry of Daylight Saving to afflict millions of Americans with the fever. No, not some exotic virus nor even a common cold, but spring fever. For more than 35% of Americans, that means planning and preparing a vegetable garden.

The trend for younger people to plant vegetable gardens is increasing. Millennials grow their own food to get higher quality produce and greater variety. Others enjoy the mood boost from exercise and sunshine, while still more use their garden as a mode of creative expression. Since only about ten percent of Americans get enough fruits and vegetables, the trend is also fueled by a desire for better health.

I recently learned about growing fruit trees and how to plan a beautiful, easy care, water efficient landscape at the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. The classes are free and held at convenient times. Best of all, if you miss a class, often the slides are posted on the CUWCD website! I’m eager to work now to save later.

Apple trees need pruning in February and stone fruits like plum and peach should be pruned at the end of winter. Check out the CUWCD website for pruning and care instruction. A well-pruned tree will be healthier and stronger than those whose owners wimped out and didn’t cut them back.

In our neighborhood, people share their excess harvests with each other. One lady has designated her porch as a place to leave and choose excess fruits and vegetables. From my immediate neighborhood, Carl Lambson gave me onion starts, Wade Sticht gave me a nectarine from very few on his young tree, and Kathy Porter gave us a sack of sweet, juicy peaches. I can’t imagine a better way to cement a friendship!

So far, the only thing I contribute to the neighborhood largess is honeydew. I saved the seeds from a sweet, firm melon I bought at the grocery store and have been raising them in abundance for the last few years. They’re forgiving, pest free and abundant.

Last year, I bought several varieties of pumpkins from the supermarket. One huge variety I bought, turned out to be sweet, deep orange, (lots of vitamin A) and thick-walled. I not only pressure canned the puree, I saved the seeds. I can hardly wait to watch their invasive vines try to take over the world.

I have a bed of strawberries that are like the three little pigs. Mother strawberry plants send runners out to seek their fortunes in the wide world, sending down roots when they find a little soil. But if the big bad wolf doesn’t come along and cut them off in their youth, the parent plant won’t produce well. Alas!

More bad news, the song that claims that “I looked out the window and what did I see, popcorn popping on the apricot tree,” is promoting false doctrine. Apricots bloom with pink flowers and pear trees bloom white. But the meter of the song needed a three-syllable fruit and so ‘pear’ was bumped and ‘apricot’ got the nomination.

One year, the day before Mother’s Day, my sons took me outside blindfolded. At the right moment, they whipped off the blindfold to reveal a truck load of llama manure dumped on my garden plot. For a gardener, a box of chocolates is lame compared to poo!

When I was a child, I found a huge, fat tomato horned worm devouring our tomato plants. Afraid to touch it, I broke off the twig it was munching and smashed it with a rock. I was so traumatized by its size and hideousness that I didn’t look under the rock for weeks. When I finally did, it was completely gone. I still have to nerve up my courage to face tomato horned worms.

Statistically, most gardeners will plant tomatoes. My favorite varieties are, Early Girl for medium size and “Sweet One Million” for cherry sized.

Don’t plant fruit trees in a lawn, but do add colorful vegetables like purple cabbages, chard, beets, and pole beans to your flower beds for an edible landscape. Here in this country, all you need is a bit of earth.

God bless American gardeners!