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Posts Tagged ‘colorado gardening’

Peas

Pea Plants ~ about a month old

Are We There Yet?

I know.  I said planting day wouldn’t be until at least the weekend after Mother’s Day.  I said that.  I did.  However.  This unusually warm spring has got me thinking that it might be OK to bump planting day up a bit.  This weekend looks like it might be a little on the cool side, but next week looks exactly right for planting.  If you aren’t ready, no worries!  You will still be on schedule if you wait a couple of weeks.  However, if you are itching to get your hands dirty (like I am), I don’t want you waiting on me to do it.

There are still a few plants that should probably wait.  Summer squash hates to be cold, and besides, we planted all of those cool-season greens in our squash bed, so let’s hold off on those.  Cucumbers and corn are other plants that like really warm weather—let’s wait to put those guys into the ground until later in the month.  Check the back of your seed packets—if they indicate that you should wait until 1 to 2 weeks after the average last frost, wait a week or two before planting them.  I know, we haven’t had a frost for a couple of weeks, so technically it probably already is 1 to 2 weeks after the last frost.  However, May nights can (and are supposed to) still get down into the low 40s, and some plants just don’t like the cold, even if there isn’t a freeze. (more…)

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Let’s celebrate Earth Day by greenifying our garden and getting some seeds in the ground!

Pea Sprouts

Pea sprouts from seeds planted two weeks ago. Yum. Peas.

We have two tasks this week:
1. Plant outdoor seeds.
2. Transplant indoor seedlings for larger plants to larger containers.

This week we are ready to plant these seeds outdoors:

Arugula
Beets
Carrots
Leeks
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Watercress

If you are doing successive planting, you can also plant some more of these:
Lettuce
Radishes

Radish Sprouts

Radish sprouts from seeds planted two weeks ago. (Despite my “no thinning” policy, I am going to have to thin these a bit–they should be at least an inch apart.)

We are done planting indoor seeds, but keep babying the ones you have planted until we are ready to get the seedlings in the ground.  If you have any seedlings that look like the are outgrowing their containers, this is a good time to transplant them to larger pots.  Larger plants, like tomatoes and peppers, are good candidates for repotting.  The more room they have to grow, the better developed their root systems will be.  The better developed the root system, the healthier the plant.  Smaller plants, like onions and lettuce, will be fine where they are for another couple  of weeks until we put them into the garden–their root systems don’t grow as large.  Think about it this way–if a plant will be large above the ground, its root system will be large below the ground.  These are the guys that can use a little more room to grow.

Transplanting is pretty easy.  Look for a container maybe twice as wide as the one your seedling is in now.  Fill it about half full with potting mix–it’s not as important to use mix specially made for seeds here (if you have some left over, though, you might as well use it up), but do use a good, moisture-retaining potting mix.  Then pop your seedling out of its current container and into the new one.  Fill the rest of the way up with potting mix.  Water.  The hard part is finding the room for the bigger containers in your already-plant-filled kitchen.

If you are transplanting tomato seedlings, it’s a bit different–tomatoes like to be buried deep in the soil, because they will develop roots all along the part  of the stem that is buried.  For tomatoes, start with an empty container.  Put the seedling in the container, and bury all but the very top set of leaves in the soil.

Happy gardening!

repottingafter

After

repottingbefore

Before

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Bean SproutLook what I found poking out of the soil this week!  If your garden still looks like a big pile of lifeless, brown, wet soil, don’t fret!  There is plenty of activity going on beneath the soil–patience, grasshopper.  My guess is this guy is actually a bean that got left unnoticed from last year’s garden, and sprouted all on his own.  (He will have to be moved to join his other bean friends later.  I will wait until the seeds I planted in the area sprout, so I know where they are and don’t disturb them when I dig this guy up.)

We are just about done with indoor seeds, so if you are running out of room on your windowsills, fear not!  Here is what we have left to plant inside:

Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage **
Melons **
Okra
Tomatillo

** If you want to try cabbage or melons from seed, start them in peat pots (or peat pods)–these guys are both tough to transplant, and the peat pots make it easier on the seedling later.

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This post is dedicated to Ghost, the Garden Cat.  He was always my helper in the garden, but he particularly liked to get in the way during this stage of the game.

You’ll want to wait and do this after the ground has thawed.

Vegetables need good, rich soil to grow well.  Most Colorado soil is very dense and full of clay—it will need to be amended with some good stuff to make your plants are happy.  Check out the soil in your planned garden area—dig down a foot or so.  CAN you dig down a foot or so?  If not, you definitely need soil amendment—I’d double the numbers listed below.  Any earth worms in there?  If so, congrats!  Earth worms are our friends!  Your soil is probably in pretty good shape.  You can buy a soil testing kit if you want to know exactly how good your soil is, what’s in it, what the Ph level is, etc., but that’s all a bit too scientific for me.  I’d rather just get in there and start digging.

Soil Amendment Ingredients

Ingredients needed for soil amendment: Soil Pep, Vermiculite (optional), Fertilizer, and Compost (not shown)

Shopping List:

  • Compost:  Any kind of compost is fine, but I suggest mixing a few kinds together.  You can also add a bag or two of manure into this mix.  Whatever kind you use, mix them together in a wheel barrow before spreading it.  I suggest using about one bag per 25 square feet.
  • Soil Pep:  I am a huge believer in Soil Pep—it’s kind of a mix of bark and other decomposable natural stuff, but it’s not compost.  It does a great job in breaking up tough soil and keeping it light and loose.  You can find it at pretty much any garden center or nursery, but I haven’t seen it at a big box store.  One bag is usually good for about 50 square feet.  Added garden nerd bonus:  the Soil Pep you use in your garden this year will break down before next year and further amend the soil!  Woohoo!  And look what I just got in my email box this morning–a SP coupon!
  • Fertilizer:  There are lots of fertilizers out there, but I use one called Colorado’s Own Vegetable Food—it’s good for all kinds of veggies.  It’s in a orange bag, and the numbers on the bottom are 5-10-5 (sorry I don’t have a photo yet).  Go to Echter’s for this.  (If you haven’t been to Mecca—I mean Echter’s—yet, go.  Just go.  I apologize now for the damage it will do to your check book.  (I am sure that will be the subject of a future post.))  One bag of fertilizer should be enough, unless you have a huge plot you are planting.  It should say on the bag how big of an area it will cover.  Extra is not bad here—you will use more later in the season. (more…)

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