Garden Planning 2019
For Grow + Gather, now is the perfect time to dream big garden dreams. While we grow food year-round in hydroponic towers inside our greenhouse, winter and early spring are our favorite times to plan for the upcoming outdoor growing season. Below you’ll find four ways we take advantage of the cold months to up our Colorado gardening game.
Review the 2018 Garden
If you haven’t already, start a gardening journal. We’ve always been partial to the pen and paper approach (and plan to stock gardening journals in our storefront market), but if you prefer digital tracking, create your own online journal or try out one of the many gardening apps like Gardenize that help you get a handle on your garden plans. However you choose to record your gardening information, what’s been most helpful for us is to sketch our garden layout and to track what we’ve grown and where we’ve grown it in the garden to consider improvements for our gardening outcome for the following growing season.
Create a planting plan
Using that now indispensable garden journal where you’ve jotted reflections and lessons learned from your garden last year, turn your attention to 2019 garden strategy.
- What would you like to grow this year, and where in the garden will these plants thrive?
For example, sowing spring lettuce mix seeds in full sun may be fine in late spring along the Front Range, but as the days lengthen in June, delicate greens fare much better in partial shade where they can find relief from Colorado’s unrelenting sun.
- Do you need to expand your growing space to accomplish your 2019 gardening goals?
- As part of the garden expansion, are you also hoping to extend the garden season through the use of hoop houses or cold frames over garden beds? (For inspiration on successful cold weather gardening in Colorado, check back for an upcoming post on how we’ve used hoop houses through the dead of winter to successfully produce delicious hardy greens.)
- While reviewing the 2018 garden layout in your journal, consider crop rotation and sowing spring cover crops as a way to replenish depleted nutrients in your garden’s topsoil.
Now is also the time to inventory the seeds you’ve saved for 2019, pore over seed catalogs for new varieties, and order seeds so that you can start hot-weather produce such as peppers and tomatoes indoors to give them time to grow before planting at the end of May.
Develop a Garden Action Plan
In order to grow successfully this year, consider when you need to complete specific tasks for your garden.
If you don’t have a composting system for your garden, now’s the time to start one. If you have one, it’s a great time to tweak it to help produce usable compost more quickly, particularly during the cold months when the decomposition process slows.
And while it may be too cold to put most of your garden tools to use, now is a great time to inventory your tools and clean and repair them before gardening season gets underway.
Develop a calendar and/or chart that sets out what seeds you’ll be sowing, along with their gardening specs (when to sow indoors or outdoors, germination time, best growing conditions, etc.) so you can organize seed starting at the optimal growing time. Again, this kind of tracking can be done with pencil and paper, but if you’d like the ease of digital tracking, several apps can serve you well as you stay organized and on top of the growing season.
Unless a greenhouse, hoop house, or cold frame is in the cards for you, we advise growing fruits and vegetables adapted for Colorado’s shorter growing season. Look for an upcoming post on favorite short-season fruits and vegetables to grow in our area.
Now is a great time to sharpen your gardening savvy through on-site research and continuing education opportunities. We’re big advocates of reading all those gardening books we’ve collected over the year and haven’t had time to get to, as well as allotting time to catch up on online gardening tips.
If you’re new to Colorado gardening, you may have learned your area’s hardiness zone (we’re zone 5b in Englewood), but you may not be as familiar with how local weather conditions can impact your growing season. Connecting with more seasoned area gardeners will not only link you to your community, but you’ll gain valuable wisdom about cultivating food and flowers within your unique growing conditions.
Too shy to reach out to your favorite local garden heroes? Joining a gardening class in person or online might be the ticket to meeting fellow gardeners more easily. The Colorado State University Extension offers an in-class Master Gardener Program as well as an Online Certified Gardener Program, and Denver Botanic Gardens offers a Certificate in Rocky Mountain Gardening. Or if you’re just looking to brush up on a niche aspect of gardening, local garden shops like Tagawa and Wildflowers have you covered.
Grow + Gather wishes you well on your 2019 garden planning, and we’re excited to connect with you about all things garden. In line with our commitment to community, in the future we’ll be lining up local experts to share their knowledge on garden preparation, tool maintenance, effective composting and garden design. Stay tuned for more information about the unique and practical educational programming we’ll have underway once our doors are open for business.