Spring Gardening on the Western Slope – Atha Team Blog
Gardening in Colorado can be an enjoyable pastime, but it requires a bit of finesse with our late frosts and unpredictable weather of late. You don’t have to be an expert to explore the benefits of gardening, but it can be an intimidating process if you’ve never tried out your green thumb. Assuming you have a space prepared to start gardening, the best place to begin is with vegetables that are easy to grow. Tomatoes, carrots, and peas are nearly foolproof for the beginner. Tomatoes work well with a wire frame or metal cage around them to support the heavy produce while peas love a trellis to climb. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either. If you have any kind of fence in your yard, that can be used to help support your plants from our Colorado spring winds.
The choice of starting from seeds or starts from your local greenhouse is arguably a matter of preference, but starting from seeds in an inexpensive indoor greenhouse kit can be much cheaper. It is a good idea to start from seeds the vegetables that take longer to develop roots like lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and peppers, among others. Once the root systems are strong enough, transplanting them outdoors after the last frost (usually a couple of weeks after Easter) can create the best environment for your young veggies to thrive.
There are some plants like cucumbers, squash, and watermelons that don’t do well if transplanted, so you’ll want to wait until the last frost before planting directly outside. If you want a head start on your outdoor vegetables, another option is to protect the plants from colder temperatures by insulating them at night with burlap sacks, plastic wrap, or blankets draped over a strong frame. A cheap way to accomplish this is to put folding chairs over the top of your garden bed and tie a blanket over the top of them. Mulch is also a great insulator, so make sure to use it generously to protect your seedlings. And while we’re talking about protection, don’t forget to put a wire fence in place around your garden to ward off the inevitable deer, rabbits, skunks, and raccoons that love to enjoy the fruits of your labor before you can.
While there may be a lot of guesswork for the first time Colorado gardener, consulting a good nursery can relieve a lot of fears about the pitfalls beginners face. The Western Slope generally enjoys over 240 days of sunshine every year, so as long as your garden is in a good location with southern exposure, get some good fertilizer, water frequently in the hotter months of July and August, and you’ll be fine.
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