It's that time of year when spring fever causes us to buy plants even though many of them can't be planted outside in the garden until the snow is gone from Shafer Butte.
It's a good time to review gardening brochures on the University of Idaho website. Most of the brochures are PDF files that can be downloaded and printed for free at www.cals.uidaho.edu/edComm/catalog.asp.
I like to start with the Recent Publications (last item in the list of subjects). Most of the new publications are geared toward larger scale farms, but backyard farmers will find new information as well. There's a new publication with the latest information on canning (PNW 199) and another on how to safely make jerky (PNW 632).
Have you ever thought about joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? A new brochure (CIS 1187) explains what a CSA is and isn't, and lists websites where you can find one near you. CSAs are farms that grow a variety of fruits and vegetables and members who pay an annual fee get a share of the crops each week. If you want freshly grown vegetables but don't have the time or space to grow them yourself, a CSA might be right for you.
The Master Gardener manual has been updated and is available to anyone who wants to learn about plants and gardening. It's written specifically for our climate, soils and growing conditions.
When you click on Gardening, several subheadings appear. In the General Gardening section, you'll find an important brochure about plant quarantines. If you've ever tried to order garlic bulbs or onion sets online from an out-of-state supplier, you know it can't be done. Plants in the Allium family are strictly regulated because of plant diseases that could wipe out Idaho's onion crop if imported. There are 70 food and flowering plants that have import restrictions. It's important to know these restrictions.
Under the Vegetables subheading is a booklet titled "Planning an Idaho Vegetable Garden." Everything from planning a garden to harvesting is included in this 42-page booklet. There are numerous other brochures and booklets about specific vegetables in this section.
The Fruits and Nuts subheading has brochures on several different fruits that are popular in home gardens. Find out about propagation, diseases and general growing information about several different fruits.
Other headings have nuggets of information for homeowners, too. Under Forestry, you'll find a brochure on reducing fire risk for anyone living on open land. Under Weeds, there's a brochure on Idaho's most noxious weeds.
Happy planting ... in a few weeks!
If you have particular questions about gardening you'd like to see addressed in this column, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.