Start of spring means more business at nurseries

Published: Monday, March 24 2014 2:55 p.m. MDT

Pansies growing at Wasatch Shadows Nursery in Sandy on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

Alex Cabrero, KSL

Enlarge photo»

SANDY — Maybe it's the flowers, or the soon-to-be fruit, or just the smell of fresh mulch.

Whatever it is, Loren Nielsen can’t stop smiling now that it's officially spring.

“I'm passionate about it. I've been doing it for 38 years," said Nielsen, who owns Wasatch Shadows Nursery in Sandy.

“It’s not the most lucrative industry, but it gives us a lot of satisfaction when we can help people do things they really want to do,” he said.

Right now, his satisfaction is sky high. For many nurseries and greenhouses, the start of spring means more business, and the No. 1 question he’s getting from customers is: Is it too soon to start planting?

The answer depends on what you want to plant.

"The vegetables that could go in the ground without the consumer worrying at all are what we call our cold-hearty vegetables,” said Nielsen, “things like cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, peas."

For flowers, Nielsen says pansies are perfect right now.

"We always joke and say this was the most misnamed plant there ever was,” he said. “We call it a pansy and that normally refers to something that's not very tough, but these plants are hardened. They're ready to go in the ground."

Of course the trick is knowing if a plant you’re buying has been hardened through the winter.

Nielsen says some flowers and vegetables had to be started inside and then gradually moved outside so it’s not such an abrupt temperature change.

"Well, we always say shop at a reputable business that will tell them whether or not they need extra protection," said Nielsen, “otherwise there is a good chance it will die.”

Trees and shrubs are also good to go now.

It's never too soon for soil and mulch. Scott Carr was at the nursery recently to buy topsoil to help give his Sandy home a fresher look.

"Springtime is great,” said Carr. “It's great to be able to come outside without having to bundle up and be able to work in the yard a little bit."

Mark Wirthlin, who also lives in Sandy, was buying mulch to help his neighbor make the outside of her home look good.

"Everyone is hibernating in the winter time. The neighbors start to come out and you get reacquainted, so this is a great project to do that," said Wirthlin. “After a long, cold winter, a day like today makes working outside fun.”

Another big question Nielsen hears involves turning on water sprinkling systems. He says, for now, and maybe even until the end of May, it's OK to hold off.

"I wouldn't rush it,” said Nielsen. “There's no reason at all to turn on the irrigation system. Grass is really resilient. If it got a little on the dry side, it'll recover within a week or two."

Email: acabrero@deseretnews.com

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