Sunday, October 12, 2014

Things I Would Change for Next Year's Garden by Ed Powers

Plants undercover
2014’s garden was my second full year of gardening at 7500 feet in Evergreen, Colorado.  It was a disaster!!  It started off with me planting my seeds indoors much too early for my area.  I planted the bulk of my seeds in late January instead of looking at the germination time on each packet and factoring in my altitude (7500 - 8000 feet).  I should determine when the expected transplant date will be and back calculate the starting date.  This year, the young plants ended up being too leggy, a few died early in the seed starting soil while the others ended up difficult to plant because they were too big.

Plants started from seed

Some starts became a bit "leggy"
I planted in early June, shortly after what I thought would be the last frost.  They started off well but I had another major frost in late June and I lost all of my plants.  I consulted CSU fact sheets and guide lines and decided not to give up.  So I planted my second attempt in late June (I had some seedlings left from my seed starting).  I planted tomato seeds that I had saved from last year which were San Marzano, Roma, Black Krim, and Red Siberian (the latter two are both Russian varieties suited for a short growing season).  In addition, I planted eggplant, short seasoned peppers, zucchini and spaghetti squash, and cucumbers.  All were heirlooms because I planned to save seeds for next year.

My plants started very slowly and at the end of July I decided to cover them with tents in hopes to lengthen the growing season.  I was planning to uncover them around the first week in October.  At that time I had little or no fruit on anything.  In late August we had 2 heavy hail storms that did a lot of damage.  But I covered everything again and hoped that the plants would produce fruit and ripen.
Covers added

This week I uncovered my garden and 1 tomato had produced 2 small fruits.  My 2nd year of gardening has been my worst.  However, there were many good lessons learn.  So while it was a bad year for saving seeds and producing fruit I learn a lot of good gardening lessons.

Here is a list of things that I noticed in my garden:
  •      Build raised gardens at this altitude.  Although my garden area has very good, fertile soil; a raised bed assists me in taking better care of my garden.
  •     Do more research through CSU before starting my seeds and planting my garden.
  •     Start seeds (both flowers and vegetables) according to germination time and planting time in my area.  This means not all seeds get started on the same day.
  •     Transplant plants after the last frost (yes a bit of a best guess) and cover them with a hoop covering with a white or opaque cloth like lawn fabric as the covering.
  •     When the temperatures warm-up, drop the cover to the side (or use a summer weight row cover) to protect from overheating.
  •     If I notice there is expected hail, pull up the cover over hoop to protect the plants in the garden.
  •     In mid-September leave cover over plants 24 hours a day but leave the ends open for ventilation.
  •     Put a string of small Christmas lights (non LED) for night heat in each tent.
  •     Harvest in the first week of October.

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