April 18, 2021

April is here and the weather is right for planting cool season crops. You have had your soil tested and added organic matter to enrich the soil. A couple weeks prior to planting is good time for applying most organic fertilizers as it gives the nutrition time to spread throughout the surrounding soil. Unlike synthetic fertilizers, organic fertilizers don’t create high levels of salts, such as nitrates, which disturb or even kill beneficial soil organisms. Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly and naturally and there are many choices available at local nurseries. Ask for advice.

If you’re going to be direct seeding your beds, you are not going to want to mulch yet so young plants can germinate. However, if you will be using starts/transplants, mulch once you’ve done your soil preparation. A thick layer of mulch (shredded leaves or straw, e.g.) can protect your prepared soil against weed seeds and other problems.

With our crazy Colorado up and down temperatures, planting frost-tolerate spring vegetables is the way to go. Historically, we have experienced frost up until mid-May so holding off on any warm season vegetables like tomatoes or peppers is smart. Peas, broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, spinach, carrots, radishes, scallions, cilantro, and lettuce are examples of frost-tolerate vegetables that can be planted now. Colorado State University Extension has an excellent planting guide that will explain in more detail how and when to plant vegetable crops.

You can find this guide, CMG GardenNotes #720 Vegetable Planting Guide.

Next month we will look at preparing for planting popular vegetables like tomatoes and planting companion crops.

march 17, 2021

Spring cannot be too far behind and we are all getting anxious to start our gardens. But the first thing to think about is your soil. “Good” soil is the key to success in the garden. The number one recommendation is to have your soil tested (once every 3 years is sufficient.) Testing should be done for in-ground gardens as well as raised beds. Colorado State University Extension offers soil testing for a minimal charge. (CSU Soil Testing) The results will give you a good idea of what nutrients are plentiful and what is missing so that adjustments can be made. Organic recommendations will be made in the April post. If you plan to have your soil tested, do so sooner than later as testing backs up in the soil testing lab.

If you are building raised beds (or gardening in containers) and need to fill your bed with soil, here are some suggestions. . .

  • If you are building raised beds (or gardening in containers) and need to fill your bed with soil, here are some suggestions. If you purchase your soil do so from a reputable dealer. Don’t go on the cheap. Select a soil mix high in organic matter and with good water holding capacity. It can be purchased in bulk or bagged. When purchasing a soil mix, inspect the materials that compose the mix. For most raised beds, a blend of half compost and half topsoil can be used to fill the bed. The compost will provide organic matter. Avoid a strictly topsoil composition since its composition can be varied as there is no legal definition for topsoil. A soil depth of no less than 10-18 inches is the minimum amount suitable for growing most vegetables.

    If you are really energetic, you can build your own soil. A good recipe would be 1/3 good quality topsoil, 1/3 quality compost, and 1/3 vermiculite or perlite. There are numerous calculators online to help you determine the amount needed for your bed. Again, purchase your materials from a reputable dealer and don’t go on the cheap.

    When April arrives, we will discuss amending the soil and planting some cool season vegetables.

february 10, 2021

February is the month to start planning your vegetable garden whether it be in containers, raised beds, or in-ground. Planning includes deciding which garden type; selecting the garden location; deciding on the size; determining the types and varieties of vegetables to plant; and planning where, when, and how much of each vegetable to plant.

    • Container gardens are excellent for beginners as well as advanced gardeners. Things to consider are the type of container (bigger is better), hours of sunlight, good potting soil (not garden soil), drainage, and vegetable types that do well in containers.
    • Raised beds are another option. They generally produce higher yields and need less watering and weeding and can be built out of construction lumber. Four feet is ideal for the width because it allows you to reach in without stepping in and compacting the soil.  The length can be determined by what your space requires.
    • In-ground is the most classic.  You must, however, consider the size of the garden and how much space you have (start small), soil type, drainage, and how much sun the plot will get during the growing season.

    Next decide which vegetables you enjoy and would be practical to have in your garden. This is an excellent guide from Colorado State Extension which will help you make those decisions.  (CSU Vegetable Planting Guide) And now is the time to purchase seeds. Lettuce, green beans, peas, carrots, radishes, squash, chard, and kale are super easy to grow from seed. If you choose not to plant from seed, vegetable starts are always available and are sometimes more practical.  And it is always helpful to draw a layout of your garden so you can see the where and how much of each vegetable you want to plant.


    If you have any questions, email Suzanne.  Next month we will look at soil preparation and how to go organic!