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Home Improvement | Time to Start Your Summer Garden

Posted at 04/22/2020 02:26 PM by Pat O'Connor

Happy Earth Day!

As we ease into the month of May, gardening buffs will shift their focus from pandemic to pansies; COVID-19 to cauliflower.

Certainly meeting the continuing physical distancing requirements, gardening provides a therapeutic outlet in the form of getting some fresh air and exercise, decelerating your life and, quite literally, enjoying the fruits of your labor (and saving money in the process).

It’s the perfect pandemic panacea.

Gardening is Good for the Soul

Regardless of whether you live in an urban or suburban setting, gardening is touted as a means of slowing down yet providing beneficial exercise and recalibrating your mood. It transcends the generational gap(s): kids love digging around in the dirt and watching plants grow just as much as Baby Boomers. In fact, it’s a wonderful activity that provides connection among all ages.

Best of all, it’s a simple activity that makes people happy. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Mood Enhancement. Doing something positive and feeling a link to nature does wonders to elevate your outlook on life. Creating an environment that nurtures a plant to grow is curiously satisfying.
  • Exercise. It’s easy to burn over 250 calories when you’re leaning over, planting, watering and pulling weeds. 
  • Escape. We are living in a time when so much is unknown. Gardening gives us a sense of control and security; knowing that planting a few seeds or cuttings will produce delicious food/herbs in just a few months.
  • Sell or provide gifts. Without a doubt, people love fresh fruits and vegetables. You can set up a side gig selling your produce or make someone’s day by gifting some of your crop to friends and family. 
  • Save money on groceries. It’s gratifying to walk out the garden and create your own vegetable dish for dinner with the plants you’ve grown in your backyard. Even if it’s just one tomato, your salad will be truly enhanced since we all know the grocery store tomatoes are cardboard in disguise.

The Jeffco Gardener blog, hosted by the Jefferson County CSU Extention, provides some wonderful tips and guidelines when starting your garden this year. From square foot gardening to crop rotation, you'll learn valuable information on what it takes to be a successful gardener.

Growing Plants in Colorado Can Be Challenging

As much as we love the semi-arid climate here in the Centennial State, that weather we love can also wreak havoc on our plants and landscaping. 

You may be familiar with the planting “rules” in Denver. For newcomers to the area or for novice gardeners, the long-standing suggestion is not to plant flowers or immature plants prior to Mother’s Day (May 10th). The reason for this is the fickle nature of weather along Colorado’s Front Range. It’s common to still experience freezes prior to that date which will destroy all your hard work (unless you’re prepared to cover your plants).

In fact, the growing season in Colorado can be challenging and extremely frustrating. In addition to the high elevation (which makes sunlight intense and humidity low) and the aforementioned extreme weather, hailstorms are common that are notorious for shredding tomato plants and destroying annuals. During spring and early summer, it’s advisable to pay attention to weather reports and be ready to cover your garden quickly. Have tarps and heavy plastic sheets ready to go when the forecast calls for the possibility of hail.

Not all Dirt is Created Equal

The majority of the soil here is laden with clay which limits root growth and doesn’t drain well. The soil typically has high alkalinity and must either be improved over time to support successful nurturing of plants. Oftentimes, this just isn’t feasible and many have found it’s best to choose native plants that are accustomed to Colorado’s existing soil.

Establishing raised planters is an excellent way of getting around the soil limitations. These structures give you the opportunity to introduce nutrient-rich soil that supports a variety of plants that may not otherwise flourish in Colorado’s soil. This way, you can experience flowers and greenery that would otherwise flounder in this clumpy dirt. Furthermore, raised planters are easier to navigate and are back-savers (and easier of the knees, too).Despite the pitfalls of Colorado gardening, your efforts can be rewarded through research and patience. The warm days and intense sun followed by cool evenings offer heavenly conditions for many vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Furthermore, flowers and lawns love the intense sun and pleasant evenings. Best of all, there are less plant diseases in this climate due to the low humidity.

City Floral Offers a Variety of Products for Your Garden

It’s good to turn to the local experts when planning your summer garden. City Floral in Park Hill has been providing Denver residents with gardening essentials for over a century. This dedicated neighborhood nursery and garden center will turn your pale thumb into a green one. They offer a full-slate of services and, best of all, free delivery within a 5-mile radius of their store.

Their wonderful selection of seeds, annuals, trees and shrubs, herbs and vegetables, container gardening needs, perennials, garden supplies, seeds and landscaping and maintenance services can’t be beat. Furthermore, they have a knowledgeable staff that can answer all your questions and help solve the problems you’re having with your plants. Check out their blog that may address some of your concerns.

Prior to Mother’s Day, as in right now, you can start planting seeds, both inside and out. Check out City’s Floral’s seed planting calendar that provides a comprehensive list of what vegetable and melon seeds to plant when. Even if you missed the March window, you can still plant many seeds now through the middle of summer and enjoy eating those vegetables throughout the fall. 

Posted by Pat O'Connor

Pat O’Connor has dual citizenship in both Wisconsin and Colorado, having been born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, but later adopted by the Centennial State. A graduate of the University of Colorado (B.S. Journalism, 1980), O’Connor began her career as a sportswriter at the Boulder Daily Camera under the tutelage of the venerable Dan Creedon. Her experience also includes stints in public relations at Aspen Highlands Ski Area, the Colorado Trial Lawyers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. When she isn’t piecing together sentences, the self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” enjoys traveling, running, playing golf, hiking 14ers, horseback riding and skiing. During football season, she can be found cheering for the Buffs and "whooping it up" when the Packers win. She loves talking sports and giving recommendations on cheese curds.

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