Last year’s garden was a really pitiful, thrown together affair. A few buckets, some seeds, a tomato plant, soil and compost (all from Lowes) thrown together in early June in hopes of having something to show for it by the end of summer. Despite the haphazard nature of my efforts, it was starting to produce when a raccoon decided to help himself to it. He got a half dozen green tomatoes, ate my broccoli down to the dirt before it even produced a head, and nibbled the carrot tops to nothing. All I got was a few leaves of lettuce before he destroyed those as well.
So, I got a gardening book, read some more web pages and got smarter. This year, instead of a container garden, I’m planning a small raised bed with a square foot gardening approach. It will be six feet long by two feet wide, giving me twelve square feet to plant. Along the way I learned about heirloom seeds and the huge variety of plants available and found Terroir Seeds. I won’t bore you with the details of what I’m planting today, but I am going to talk about the planting calendar.
Here in Colorado, the growing season is pretty short and yet summer is hot and dry with thunderstorms and hail probable as well. I found out the most important date to gardeners is the Last Frost Date. That’s the date when, on average, it’s less probable your area will be hit by a hard, killing frost. The old Farmer’s Almanac, your state university extension office, or local gardening sites have this information. I used the Colorado State University Extension’s pages (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07220.html) and Rick’s Gardening Center (http://www.ricksgarden.com/Planting.html) here in Colorado Springs to find that we’re generally frost free around mid-May. Honestly, I split the difference between the various sources and settled on May 13th as the date I would use for planning purposes. Some plants can handle starting indoors then transplanting outside after the weather is warm enough. I’m starting as many inside as I can to get a production as early as possible. Looking at the various packets I got from Terroir Seeds, it looks like the first seeds I should start are the Early Dell celery around February 15th.
I’ll also have to better protect them from that raccoon this year! I’ve got some ideas, but I’ll save that for another post.