“Don’t turn your sprinkler systems on just yet”

With all the rain coming down over the last few weeks, farmers and gardeners are having to adjust their growing season to account for the excess water and cooler temperatures.

“We’re in a holding pattern for a little bit,” said Jaydee Gunnell, Utah State University Extension Horticultural Specialist. “Don’t turn your sprinkler systems on just yet.”

“In the grand scheme of things this water is great. We are the second driest state in the nation, so any precipitation is a good thing for us,” Gunnell said. “Be a little bit more patient as a gardener.”

Gunnell said the cool season crops like peas, onions, radishes and lettuce should be fine in this weather as long as the soil has some drainage. He said if the roots are sitting wet, there is the potential they could rot.

“Some of the warmer season vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, a lot of the melons don’t do well below 50 degrees,” stated Gunnell. “With this wet weather it’s hard to dig a hole and not get a mud clot, so I would wait another week or so and let things dry out before you start planting those crops.”

The USU Associate Professor also suggests waiting another week before planting any of the flowering annuals.

Cool, wet weather provides the perfect breeding ground for slugs, snails and Billbugs. Gunnell says he gets phone calls throughout the day from people wanting advice on how to control the insect pests. He said the traditional chemicals work well and they are readily available at any lawn care stores.

One of the biggest problems this year is iron deficient lawns, according to Gunnell. “With all this moisture, the lawns are just loving it,” he said, “but in the cool, wet spring, iron deficiency has become a lot more prevalent. If you have yellow patches in your lawn, that’s an iron deficiency.”

Recommendations include a chelate. The formula that works best in our area is EDDHA iron chelate, Gunnell suggested.

The USU Extension is working this year with the Cache Water District in an effort to provide free water checks for residents in the valley. An intern is on staff and available to come to your home and measure the irrigation put out in your system.

An intern will check for broken sprinkler heads, bad sprinkler patterns and dry patches, then offer recommendations on fixing those problem areas.

Gunnell said, “Typically, what we see is people over-watering and our goal is to show how much water you actually need to apply to a lawn to keep it looking well, but still save some water resources.”

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