BCC Gardening Challenge

Fun elders quorum yesterday (if I do say so myself). Being the first Sunday, the topic was for Der Führer (ich) to decide. We went for the following:

1.  I invited the Ward Music Chair — who happens to be a woman, gasp! — to give us a 5 minute “musical message.” She (who also happens to be my fine wife) told us about England’s finest hymnist, Ralph Vaughn Williams, played some of Thomas Tallis, and had them guess what the relationship is between Williams and Kolob.

2. As it was Mothering Sunday in England, I gave the quorum a quick history of the holiday including its Worcestershirian roots (our ward is in said county).

3. We talked about leap year and how it has sometimes been linked (erroneously, of course) with Joshua 10: 13. I had hoped we could also discuss the idea of women proposing marriage to men during leap years (or only on February 29?), but no such discussion was forthcoming, alas.

4. With spring rapidly arriving in England, we discussed gardening and quoted Spencer Kimball on the subject.

And now for the challenge: let’s grow some veg! Prep your soil now, start planting in April (or in indoor containers now), and send us some pics of your work later in the year. We’re growing peas, carrots, onions, and lettuce (very small garden). This is the first year Rebecca and I have done this, but my dad is an old pro whose spinaches this year never stopped growing. How happy he was when I invited him over to offer his gardening advice!

Provident Living has some US-specific tips.


  1. As cool as this sounds, until I live somewhere that isn’t an apartment in New York—or at least until I have a south-facing window—I’ll have to keep frequenting farmers’ markets and being jealous of those of you who can grow your own fruits and vegetables. :(

  2. Sam – do you have a balcony? Tomatoes grown straight from a grow-bag are the perfect veg for a balcony. Also carrots can be grown in a large tub.

  3. Awesome! Kimball’s enthusiasm for gardening is one of my favorite aspects of his character.

    Sweet lesson, btw.

  4. That sounds like an awesome challenge. This year the Evans Gardens are bound to produce strawberries, but I think also some carrots and onions. Tomatoes sound like too much work.

  5. Sam, you should look into community gardens. When I lived in Boston and in NY, I used them. 20 bucks a year, a patch in a community garden all set with tools etc and I could have all the seeds I wanted. Plus people share their food with each other.

    Also, every state has a master garden on staff (sorry Ronan and Rebecca) but they have answers to every gardening everything and they’ll tell you what’s good for growing in your area and you can find their info on your state’s website usually.

  6. Researcher says:

    We have quite a heavily producing yard, but until we figure out the Sam Gribley way of life and start grinding the acorns and cracking the hickory nuts and trapping the squirrels and rabbits and harvesting the wild onions and dandelions, the amount of shade prohibits most culinary crops.

    We have culled a few trees over the past couple of years for firewood and safety reasons and we now have a small patch of sunlight along our neighbor’s south-facing fence, so this might be the year to start a raised bed garden. I need to get a copy of Square Foot Gardening. I read the updated version awhile ago and it sounded like the author found his “spiritual home” among the Mormon gardeners along the Wasatch front.

  7. Rebecca,
    Unfortunately, no balcony. We don’t even have a fire escape.

    I’ve thought about community gardens. My parents did that years ago in CT, and absolutely loved it.

  8. We have a large enough backyard but the proven ability to kill whatever we plant – so we traded babysitting for a sister in our ward who loves to garden but has no space for her time taking care of our yard and planting a garden.

    It’s a win-win; I’m looking forward to our first home-grown veggies ever, and it’s a great anticipation.

  9. StillConfused says:

    We have community gardens in my neighborhood in Sandy Utah. Even though most folk have room in their yard, they like the community garden and the community help that comes along with it.

  10. Steve Evans is lying about growing veggies here in the Northwest. Sun (lack of it actually) and cool temperatures because of all the shade from the trees prevents me from growing just about anything in my yard but moss. At least it’s green, like grass is supposed to be.

    However, every year, we do get some tomatoes in some grow boxes against the back of our house, where what little reflected sunlight warms them somewhat. We get a couple of weeks of fresh tomatoes in late September or early October, but then the vines die with the first frost, and we bring in the little hard green leftovers in hopes they’ll ripen in the house before they rot.

    In Utah, we grew raspberries, tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, chokecherries for syrup and jelly, cherries, and peaches. Oh yeah, and the bane of suburbia, zucchinis. I still have some from 14 years ago, the last time we grew them in Utah. Can I interest anyone in 50 or 60 pounds worth? :)

  11. Kevinf — sshhh!

  12. I gave the quorum a quick history of the holiday including its Worcestershirian roots (our ward is in said county).
    So, is that where Worcestershire sauce comes from?

  13. I couldn’t get any of those Provident Living links to work…is this so new that they don’t have it populated, or have you seen them work before?

  14. mmiles: yes.

  15. Chad Too says:

    Funny this should come up today. I spent the entire morning tilling the backyard under (the grass seeds planted the day before a July closing in the middle of the Great SouthEastern Drought never stood a chance). The blueberry, blackberry, and lingonberry bushes, along with the flowering cherry, fruiting nectarine, and fruiting nashi all arrive on Thursday in anticipation of a Friday planting.

    Last Saturday was spent building a planter-box for my 11-year-old son to fill with ever-bearing strawberry plants. He named the plants after the classes he takes at school right now. We’re expecting a lot of yield from the plant named “Sex Ed.”

  16. Chad Too says:

    Oh, and for those who don’t have land of their own, check with your local stake president. Many times the Church buys land in advance if they anticipate an area will need a building in the future and the land just sits there. Your SP might give permission to plant a garden as long as there are no immediate plans to build.

  17. No problem Ronan. I’ve got a fine English garden. I mow it once a week in the summer. Is this what SWK meant?

  18. We have a small yard with plenty of room to grow something, but we live in the desert and our soil is super sandy. In the summer it gets well into the 100s. Any suggestions of how to grow anything in this climate? We’re new to it.

  19. I have a 20ft by 15ft garden. We grow corn, watermellon, red pepers, jalepenos, tomatoes (3 types), onion, carrots, snow peas, green beans, lettuce, potatoes, and various herbs. We also have a a bunch of fruit producing trees, but so far all we’ve gotten are plumbs.. oh and a pumpkin patch for halloween. But I live in rural Utah (moved from the cities back east) so its practically required of me! People come by with their tractors and till your backyard in the spring for free, so its pretty much assumed you’ll plant one…hah.

  20. Sand is perfect for carrots. You can get 2 crops in a year if you plant them early in warm places. You’ll probaby have to add a little soild and nutrients to the sand, depending on the sandiness. But the sand lets the carrots dig deep! I have to buy sand to plant my carrots in…

  21. Meems
    This may be way more than you asked for, but here some advice from a desert rat.
    I’m not exactly sure where you are, but the key to gardening in the desert is lots and lots of compost and mulch and you need to reorient your seasons a bit. You have to think of mid-summer as a type of winter-a lot of plants just can’t hack 117F and 0% humidity. Those that can should be as mature as possible before the furnace starts to blast. So you really have to think of desert gardening as having two short main growing seasons-fall and spring with two “dead times” (the height of summer before the summer rains and the depth of winter when temps fall below freezing) when only a few plants can survive (at least not without a lot of extra effort). The best thing about low desert gardening is that you can grow stuff year-round if you plan carefully by keeping those “dead times” into mind. You should always choose plants that mature quickly, since the ideal growing seasons are so short. Spring also starts much earlier, so be sure to find out the last average frost day in your area. You want to get your frost tender plants in as soon as possible in the spring or you should wait until early fall. Since your soil is sandy, you will have to water more frequently (lots of compost and mulch reduces water frequency), just be careful that you do not water so much that you turn your garden into a salt pan or drown your plants.
    Depending where you are, you may be able to plant some cool season plants now, but it is mostly just too late for lettuce, peas etc, but you probably can get in a crop of radishes, and maybe carrots. Instead, you want to plant your cool season plants in the fall and winter (fresh salad from the garden all winter is a great desert-living perk). Right now is the time to plant tomatoes, but do it soon. Tomatoes will not produce in the heat of the summer, so plant tomatoes with the shortest days to harvest as possible (ie cherry tomatoes). It is really hard to grow beefsteak type tomatoes in the desert, so I would not even try. If you plant your tomatoes too late, they may not produce until fall, if they survive summer. The heat is just way too hard on them. When it gets really hot, tomatoes could also use a little shade. You can erect a shade cloth in the summer to give them a break from the afternoon sun, or plant them in tubs and move in them into light shade in the summer. The light shade of most desert trees is a great place for potted plants in the summer. Now is also a good time to plant corn, squash, melons, pumpkins and sunflowers. It’s best to plant your garden so that tall plants (sunflowers and corn) are able to provide late afternoon shade to the other plants. As a final word of advice, get books specific to gardening in the desert or you can look up your local Master Gardener. Gardening books geared to temperate climates are mostly useless.

  22. Oh, and one last bit of advice. Do not plant using furrows and hills-they work best in heavy rainfall areas or if you are using heavy machinery-but they are murder on desert gardens. Instead use flat beds (the garden bed is flat with no high or low spots and surrounded by a berm to keep the water in) or use raised beds (ie square foot garden).

  23. i’m ahead of your game! my indoor seeds are already started – goodness, peas are really primeval and they just seem to want to live so much more than any other seedlings do. i really should already have crops in the ground but this is our first year as adults when we have had a real yard that we could DO anything with. the previous tenants let everything go wild for 8 years and we are still clearing out the old growth and amending the soil.

    we’re doing tomatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce, melons, gourds (for the kids), peas, beans, artichokes, cucumbers and herbs.