A Late Season Garden

Kale & peas_ColoSpgs-CO_LAH_7909I 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.

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Weed? Or Wonderful?

LAH_7583Everything 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.

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My 2013 Garden

Seed trays_LAH_9674For a gardener living in Colorado, April must be the hardest month of the year. Every article I see, every post on the gardening blogs I read celebrates the arrival of spring. Photos of germinating peas, lettuce, and other greens decorate my friends’ Facebook pages.

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My Favorite Seed Catalogs – Part 2

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.

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My Favorite Seed Catalog

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.

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Our Favorite Peas

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.

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Carrots All Winter

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!

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Spinach

spinach_dbg_20100417_lah_2909True confessions… I am allergic to spinach. Very sad, I know. So, I don’t grow it. Everything I’m about to tell you about spinach cultivation I learned from such wise gardeners as David Whiting, Colorado State University professor and State Coordinator for the Colorado Master Gardener Program, and Diane E. Bilderback, one of my favorite garden writers (and, along with Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, author of my favorite veggie gardening book, Garden Secrets).

The first tricky thing about spinach is when to plant it. Being extremely day-length sensitive, it is sure to bolt when it receives 14 or more hour of daylight per day. You can squeeze in a crop as soon as the weather is warm enough (and thankfully, spinach is relatively hardy), or wait until days are getting shorter again and plant for a fall harvest.

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Amy’s Garden

tyndale-garden-colospgs-co_lah_2870

After months of planting, watering, mulching, and pulling weeds, I tend to run out of steam by the end of August. The heat and the bugs are taking their toll, we’re actually getting a little tired of zucchini (imagine that!), and I am in desperate need of encouragement.

When my friend Amy asked me to come see her new garden, I jumped at the chance. She wanted some advice, but I wanted motivation Looking at someone else’s plot always inspires me to get back outside in my own veggie beds.

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Composting with Chickens

eggs-and-chickens-067It’s time to clean out the chicken coop. All summer my little flock has been happily picking weed and grass seeds out of the straw I spread in their coop last spring. At the same time, they’ve broken down the big pieces of grass stem into finer shreds. And, best of all, they’re balanced all that carbon with some nice, hot chicken manure.

Now that the weather has cooled a bit, I’m willing to venture out to the coop with a rake, scoop, and wheelbarrow. All that compostable material is heading for my veggie garden.

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