Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Participants at last year’s Spring Expo check out sample landscape plans.

February 15, 2018
Seed starting class, garden expo are great resources

I love this time of year, with its transitions and bit of uncertainty. You never know what the day will hold — will it be still and warm, windy and chilly, or overcast or clear?

In anticipation of the upcoming season, I have some ornamental plants growing in my new cold frame. Before long, it’ll be time to start veggie seeds, and the cold frame will greatly boost our success. Along these lines, you can greatly boost your seed starting skills by attending a free public class on seed starting.

Hosted by the Master Gardeners and presented by Stephen Sagers, you’ll learn the technique and art of successful seed starting in a fun and engaging way. The event will be held Feb. 28, from 7-8 p.m. at the USU Extension Offices, 151 N. Main St. in Tooele. The class is free. Rumor has it some seed packets will be given away as well, so be sure to attend.

It’s also the time of year when the annual Master Gardener Spring Expo comes around. The expo will be held on Feb. 24, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Registration is from 9:30-10 a.m. The customary price of $5 is still in effect. That modest investment goes a long way, including a choice of seven different breakout sessions, as well as the keynote group session.

This year, we have a special treat for you. Sharpening and maintaining shears and pruners is an ongoing task, and doing it correctly is key. Mike Caron, USU Extension horticulture specialist, will be on hand for three different sessions to teach you how to sharpen properly. You can bring one tool, and you’ll sharpen and service it under Caron’s guidance. He will bring sharpening tools and vises to use during the session.

The schedule is arranged so there are breakout sessions offered in sets of three. Two classes are offered at 10 a.m. with another two at 11 a.m. and yet another two at noon. The sharpening class is offered all three times. Since it’s impossible for one person to attend all of the classes, bring a friend and share the class material afterwards.

Here are highlights of some of the classes. I’m confident you’ll find subjects that appeal to you and will make your time investment worthwhile.

Many of you are challenged by a lack of gardening space or smaller plots of prepared ground. Possibly, your schedule and resources require that you garden on a small scale. If this is you, don’t miss “Gardening in Small Spaces.” You’ll pick up several tips and techniques to maximize the space you have, as well as know what crop choices will work best. There are other issues that face small-scale gardeners as well, including soil fertility, pest control, crop rotation and irrigation.

For those of you who live along a city street, you might consider seeing the creative approach that Rick Hall has taken in designing and creating a beautiful park strip. If you’ve been to the annual Garden Tour, there’s a good chance you’ve visited the Hall home. They have fashioned a beautiful backyard with a large waterfall and pond feature. Hall wasn’t satisfied with the generic park strip out front, so he did something about it. If you attend his session, you’ll see the results and get some great ideas for types of plants and approaches to make a great impression when someone walks by or pulls up in front of your home.

“From the Garden to the Table” is being offered by Janeen Pond, who is an avid food grower and a talented cook. Pond contributes a great article every month to the Master Gardener newsletter. Each issue features vegetables or herbs, and Pond provides some incredible recipes on how to use them. These aren’t preparations she’s simply taken from a cookbook; they are her personal favorites. You’ll learn how to successfully extend the growing season, what varieties to use, and some great recipes to enjoy the results. As an aside, Pond is one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet, so you’ll leave her session with a bounce in your step.

Ginny Hooper is a popular presenter during the monthly public presentations that are offered by Master Gardeners. She is a landscape architect and a passionate gardener. “Landscaping with Ginny” is just what it sounds like; you’ll get in the mindset and learn approaches that Pond uses to imagine, plan and create appealing and durable landscapes for your setting. She’ll have plenty of samples on hand, so you can see the results and get some solid inspiration for your yardscape.

I’ll also be presenting at the expo. In my session, you’ll learn how to choose plant varieties that will do well in our area. There are a variety of considerations to use to make good decisions. Once you understand and implement them, you will greatly increase your odds of success. Just because something is in the gardening center (especially national chains) doesn’t mean it’s adapted for our temperature ranges, soil pH, or length of growing season.

I’ll show you how to quickly determine if what you are considering is a good candidate for success, and if not, what other choices you have. While it’s true that you can grow many things that won’t naturally thrive here, it takes additional time, effort and resources to do so. You’ll learn what some of those are to help you make purchase decisions.

The whole event is topped off by a group session that features Kevin Shields, who is an accomplished yardscape designer — in fact, he’s the Senior Landscape Architect for the LDS Church. Shields has whimsically entitled his session “The Rhythm and Blues of Landscape Design.” He is a resident of Tooele Valley, so he knows what thrives and makes sense for including in your landscape.

Shield’s presentation will be from 1-2 p.m. and promises to offer a wide range of design insights, as well as examples of different approaches for various spaces. You’re sure to find several good ideas and get some good inspiration for upcoming enhancements in your garden space.

I hope to see you at both of these upcoming events. I always enjoy hearing your gardening stories and getting some good ideas for upcoming articles. I believe that life is better together, and that is especially true when it comes to this adventure we call gardening.

Jay Cooper can be contacted at, or you can visit his channel at for videos on the hands-on life of gardening, shop and home skills, culinary arts and landscaping.

Jay Cooper

Garden Spot Columnist at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Jay Cooper is a new contributing writer for the Garden Spot column. He replaced Diane Sagers, who retired in November 2013 after writing the column for 27 years. Also known as Dirt Farmer Jay, Cooper and his wife have been residents of Erda since 2001 after moving to Utah from Tucson, AZ. A passionate gardener and avid reader of horticultural topics, for several years he has been a member of Utah State University’s Master Gardeners Program, and served as chapter president in 2013. Cooper says Tooele County has an active and vibrant gardening community, and the Garden Spot column will continue to share a wide range of gardening, landscaping, home skills and rural living themes.

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