Soggy spring causing problems for some Utah yards, gardens

SALT LAKE CITY — The pitter patter of spring rain has been on repeat in northern Utah, making for a soggy spring.

While the grass is a vibrant green and plants are soaking up the moisture, garden and pest experts say it's not all a good thing.

On Wednesday in Sandy, Danny Ingram pointed out a tiny snail in his plant bed.

He picked it up and perched it on a rock. His kids like to collect the snail shells they've been finding around the yard.

"The kids come out and pick them up, and barter and trade, and want to make jewelry out of it," he said.

Danny's pest control company has something different to say about the little creatures.

Beeline Pest Control says snails and slugs thrive this time of year. The company says they've been seeing more this spring in the cloudy and rainy weather.

"They do cause a lot of damage to people's vegetable gardens, their plants-- they'll just eat right through them," said pest control technician Tucker Lovell. "Yeah, they can be a big nuisance."

At Wheeler Farm in Murray, horticulture experts agree snails and slugs aren't the healthiest for your yard.

Utah State University Extension horticulture faculty member Katie Wagner picked up a bucket in the garden USU runs in partnership with Wheeler Farm, and discovered a snail hiding on the bottom of it.

"Oh here we go, hanging out on the bottom," she said, holding up the bucket. "It's really important that you don't just pick this off and crush it in the garden like that, because there could still be eggs."

Rain has brought out the snails and slugs, and according to Wagner, other nuisance yard-dwellers like mushrooms and certain weeds.

In the large USU Extension garden area, weeds have sprung up with the shallots.

"Some weeds love lots and lots of moisture," Wagner said.

While some weeds thrive, other plants-- particularly certain fruits and vegetables-- do not.

"They're really not going to grow right now," Wagner said, looking down at tiny, yellowing tomato plants.

Pools of water surrounded the tomato beds. She said the growth is stagnant because the tomatoes need sunshine.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants don't do well in water-logged soil, she indicated.

The soil's been so soaked, some people have had a hard time even planting in the first place-- especially those were expecting to till this spring. The ground's just been too wet to do that, she explained.

"It's been really difficult for some gardeners to get out, and actually physically put plants in the ground," Wagner said.

It's still early in the crop season, and Wagner said all they can do is hold off and wait.

There's always the hope the garden produces a good yield, as it goes to a good cause.

"We deliver this food at senior centers throughout Salt Lake County," she said.

Wagner suggested garden owners hold off on watering, and wait until the soil has a chance to dry up a bit.

She and Lovell recommended getting rid of snails and slugs with bait, or by physically removing them and disposing of them away from yards and gardens.

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