It's that time again! I thought I'd share monthly updates on our veggie garden again this year for you local gardeners. With our high altitude, short growing season and (usually) clay soil, gardening in Colorado Springs is not easy, so please, any advice would be welcome in the comments!
Our vegetable garden is located in a fenced enclosure that was used as a dog run by previous owners. I thought it would be helpful for keeping pests out, but it's been more useful this year keeping toddlers out :).
I'll start by listing our edible perennials real quick, just for fun:
- Raspberries: These guys are sneaky! There are new shoots coming up all over the place, whether they're welcome or not. Hopefully we get enough fruit to keep Claire happy again this summer.
- Rhubarb: I planted one plant at the end of last season and intend to let it grow as big as it can this year (rather than eating it), then divide it so that I can have several rhubarb plants next year. I already have tons of strawberry-rhubarb jam left over from last summer anyway!
Is rhubarb supposed to flower like that?
- Herbs: Just tarragon, mint, chives, and lavender, and they're all looking promising. Maybe I'll preserve some mint jelly if we get enough.
- Asparagus: I was excited to plant some asparagus bulbs (would they be called bulbs?) in early April, but I'm concerned...nothing has come out of the ground yet. They probably croaked. I accidentally bought some asparagus seeds as well, so I may just plant those this week and see what happens. I wouldn't get anything edible for a couple years anyway.
- Fruit Tree(s): Our cherry tree is still a bit scrawny this year, and we intend to plant a plum tree in the fall.
Now, on to the annuals. All of the seedlings mentioned were started indoors a couple months ago in newspaper pots:
- Sugar Snap Peas: I think I planted these guys too early this year (on St. Patrick's Day). The first batch never came up, so I replanted several weeks later and have about a dozen little seedlings coming up, about two inches tall at this point. These are not pictured because I REALLY need to weed their garden bed.
- Tomatoes (cherry, roma, and regular round): As usual, I went a little crazy with the tomato seedlings, especially for a household where I am the only person who likes them (I'm really working on Claire, though!). The thing is, I can't imagine anything better than a fresh summer tomato, so I will probably have no trouble eating from all 9 plants! If not, I can always preserve salsa, tomato sauce, sweet and sour sauce, roasted tomatoes (frozen), or this incredible pesto torte (frozen).
- Purple Bell Peppers: Oops. I wanted to get all of my seedlings in the ground one evening after Claire went to bed, so I was still working outside after it grew dark. Once everything was planted, I thought, "Didn't I start some bell peppers? Where are they?". I think I got them mixed up with my broccoli and zinnias, so there are probably a couple plants in odd places in the garden. "By their fruits ye shall know them", I suppose.
- Broccoli: This is a new one for me this year. I have 4 seedlings in the ground.
Broccoli or Bell Pepper?
- Lettuce and Mesclun: I started a window box of these two several weeks ago to keep right outside my kitchen door, hopefully encouraging me to make quick, healthy salads for lunch. An additional 4 rows went into the ground on May 21, and I'll plant again in the fall.
- Cucumber (3), Zucchini (2), Purple Beans (8) (they turn green when cooked), Basil (4 rows), Shallots (1 row), Carrots (4 rows), and Radishes (4 rows): Aside from one cucumber seedling started indoors, I planted all of these seeds directly in the ground on May 21.
Cucumber with some tomatoes in the background.
My soil is so beautiful this year, thanks to our homemade compost. I could have kissed all the juicy worms I found while planting. I guess it goes to show that you don't have to build a raised garden bed and buy imported soil to have a healthy garden. I took my sister-in-law, Elise's, advice and kept weeds under control by hoeing once a week as the weather warmed up instead of spending an entire Saturday plucking them by hand, as I usually do.
I decided to use straw as mulch (last year I used pine needles) to keep the ground moist and discourage weed growth. I actually bought a straw bale last fall for decoration, displaying a few pumpkins, and then stored it under our back porch all winter.
I'll keep you posted on the garden's progress. I just hope I can keep up with it after the new baby arrives!