[Alison Harford/Moab Sun News]

Moab gardeners rejoice: gardening season is finally back!

To kick off the growing season, the Youth Garden Project, Moab Community Gardens, Our Village Community Center, the Resiliency Hub and the Moab Garden Club are hosting their annual seed swap. The event is an opportunity for Moab area gardeners old and new to swap seeds, plan their gardens and ask each other questions.

“It’s just so nice to get people together,” said Becky Mann, the MoCom Gardens manager. “To get people with gardening interest talking to each other face to face is always just super fun. And then it’s a reminder to everybody to get started again.”

The free seed swap will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 23 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Youth Garden Project (530 Fourth E. St.). Participants don’t have to bring seeds if they don’t have any, and houseplant clippings are also welcome. Hot tea and snacks will be provided.

“It’s really the chance for gardeners who know a lot about what they’re doing to meet with people who maybe aren’t as familiar and are just getting started in Moab,” said Jessie Shalvey, the outreach and development coordinator at the Youth Garden Project. “It’s a fundamental part of gardening, saving and sharing seeds and making a collective community.”

Last year, Shalvey said there was a huge mix of seeds: lots of flowers and vegetables, strawberry vines and houseplants. YGP is setting aside the seeds for a few types of flowers and vegetables to share—Shalvey added that if anyone is unable to make it to the seed swap, they can stop by YGP at a later date to pick up any leftover seeds.

For those who don’t have access to garden space, MoCom Gardens recently opened registration for community garden plots for 2022. There are four types of plots available at two different community garden locations: a 5-foot by 20-foot plot or 10-foot by 20-foot plot at East Bench; or one or two 6-foot by 30-foot row(s) at Our Village Community Center. Gardeners can choose to pay a higher fee with a lower volunteer commitment or a smaller fee with a larger volunteer commitment.

Registration is available at www.bit.ly/mocom-apply and closes on Feb. 28.

Another February event for gardeners is the annual fruit tree pruning workshop at Our Village Community Center, a workshop and workday to learn about fruit trees. The workshop will be on Saturday, Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon at Our Village (721 N. 500 W.)

Mann said most of the questions she gets from new gardeners in Moab concern how to garden in a desert by maintaining soil quality and figuring out a watering system. There are a few different ways to find answers, she said: namely, she encouraged new gardeners to reach out to local experts through Facebook groups such as the Moab Gardeners and Farmers and the Moab Garden Club—the Wildland Scapes Plant Nursery is another local resource to find gardening advice and plants, she said.

Mann is working on creating a website for MoCom Gardens that would tie together all of these resources and make fliers from last year’s garden workshops available—she’s also hoping to create another workshop series for this year.

For any beginner gardeners, Mann offered these tips: first, start smaller and simpler.

“Start with a manageable chunk, so that you don’t get discouraged,” she said.

Second, don’t skip the planning. It’s important to understand how much light your garden gets, and when—that will also help you decide how to water your garden. Third, get your timing right with planting seedlings. Moab is in Zone 7A, which will affect when plants can go out so they don’t freeze.

“Then at the end of the season is a good time to think about adding compost and cover crops, to feed your soil,” she said.

What: Seed Swap

When: Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. 

Where: Youth Garden Project (530 Fourth E. St.)