I didn’t plant this year’s veggie garden until mid-August. No, I wasn’t procrastinating. I just had to wait for the new boxes to be built, filled with topsoil and compost, and the drip lines put into place. While we moved to our new house in May, the landscaper didn’t start until the end of July—and my veggie boxes turned out to be the last thing they did.
Now I have two 4-foot wide raised planters, each about 10 feet long. (My garden got downsized along with the rest of my life.) I love the “rumble stone” bricks we used—they’re comfy to sit on as I weed and harvest. The boxes are a little over two feet tall (they’re on a slope, so it varies) and we filled them to about 10 inches from the top. I wanted some headroom for adding future amendments and so I can lay clear panels over the edges to create coldframes as needed.
Everything is growing. Buds are bursting, early flowers are in bloom, and millions of tiny seeds are breaking through the soil into eager growth. It’s a wonderful time of year, and a busy one for gardeners. As we sow seeds and pull weeds, the question arises—which is which? Should we dig out that clump of green, or is it a desirable plant?
This is especially difficult if it’s a new yard, and this is our first chance to see what’s growing in it. Let me tell you a short story illustrating my gardening ineptitude.
I love getting seed catalogs in the mail. The flowers are so big and bright, and the veggies are worthy of blue ribbons. Everything looks absolutely perfect. Just order these seeds and you too can have results like this!
Except, we live in Colorado. There’s a very good reason most seed companies are situated in places like South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, where the soil is fertile and the climate is conducive to growing most crops. With our erratic weather, often we don’t have time to ripen those luscious tomatoes. Long-season flowers freeze before they bloom. Isn’t there a seed company for us?
Yes, there is. Appropriately named High Altitude Gardens specializes in short season, cold-hardy varieties that thrive at higher elevations. If you live in the mountains, this is the seed catalog for you!
Last spring, our daughter and son-in-law moved into their first home. For the first time, she has a yard of her own. And being my daughter, of course she couldn’t wait to grow her own veggies. Although they moved in March, her advanced state of pregnancy took priority, and instead of carrots and beans, she grew an adorable baby girl. But this year, it’s time to garden!
At first, things seemed to go well. We consulted on the best crops and varieties for her area, and she wrote away for some local seed companies’ catalogs. Seeds were ordered in plenty of time, the packets arrived, and she started preparing the garden space where things were to grow.
Our forced evacuation dragged on and on. Glued to the news, we prayed for the firefighters, for those losing homes, for protection for our own home. So far, the closest the flames had come was about three blocks. Thank you God!
On Thursday we called the Humane Society to ask if there was any way to rescue my chickens. I realized they were lower priority than horses, dogs, and other pets and livestock, but maybe if someone was in the area anyway? I was sure they had used up their food and water by now.
I had planned to write an interesting and informative post about woodpeckers for today, but life was interrupted this past week. I’m sure you’ve heard about the massive fire in Black Forest, Colorado. Well, guess where we live… yup, Black Forest, Colorado. We were evacuated within hours of the fire’s start, and have been unable to get back into our house until now. We are grateful that we still have a house to get back into!
You can read more about our personal experience on my other blog, www.compost-blog.com. Today I’d like to share about what I am calling the miracle garden.
More of my favorite seed catalogs. Don’t miss Part 1!
Johnny’s Selected Seeds Another Maine company, Johnny’s is responsible for the development of over a dozen familiar varieties such as Diva cucumbers (I love these), Lipstick and Carmen peppers, and AAS winter Bright Lights chard. Maybe it’s due to their breeding program, but somehow their catalog seems more scientific than those from other companies. I like to keep it on hand just as a reference, although I’ve purchased seeds from them as well. They include a germination chart for each crop, showing the optimal soil temperatures for sowing. Since I time my spring planting by a combination of calendar and soil thermometer, this is very useful information. They also carry a big selection of organic seeds.
The mailbox is full of catalogs these days. Harry and David, Sierra Trading Post, Pottery Barn—I may glance at them before tossing them into the recycling bin. But there are a few catalogs I can’t wait to get. As the cold weather sets in and the landscape is dreary and dead, seed catalogs arrive with their reminder that spring will come, eventually. They are the perfect cure for the winter blahs.
If the only peas you’ve tasted were from a plastic freezer bag—or worse, a can—you have no idea what you’re missing. Fresh-from-the-garden peas are so delicious, so sweet and nutty, it seems they should be bad for you! I used to send our daughter out to harvest them before dinner, and she’d eat every one before bringing the empty pods back to the house. (Parents of picky eaters, take note!) Now my husband does the same thing—I send him out to harvest our sugar snaps and he brings back an empty bowl and a grin.
Peas prefer a long, cool and damp growing season, pretty much the opposite of what we have here in Colorado. Still, I plant a crop every year. Even if we only get one meal, it’s worth it. We love peas.
Now that the winter’s first hard freezes have arrived, fresh homegrown produce is in short supply. The season my be over for frost-tender summer squash, vine-ripened tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, but with some preparation, you can enjoy at least one crop that can be harvested from mid-summer through fall and winter, until the days start to warm again. There’s nothing like going out to the garden in December, brushing off some snow, carefully digging into the cold soil, and pulling up some crisp, bright orange carrots!