Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two Foothill Gardening Experiences in 2013 by Ed Powers

Seedlings getting ready for 2013 season
In 2013 I started the year where I left off in 2012.  In 2012 I had just moved to Evergreen from Detroit, Michigan and was able to start seeds in late April, almost too late for this area.  I planted a few tomatoes, squash, peppers, marigolds, Icelandic poppies and zinnias.  Of course I brought the seed from Detroit.  Everything sprouted and grew.  Because we were still moving in I gave most of the plants to my daughter who lives in Indian Hills about 6500 to 7000 feet in elevation. Our Evergreen home is at between 7400 and 7800 feet in elevation.  I kept a few squash, peppers and tomatoes which I planted late in June.  While the squash and tomatoes grew and began to fruit, the peppers plants were eaten by the chipmunks right away.  My 1st lesson learned.  The tomatoes and squash fruited but did not mature and died at the first frost in early September. The second of many lessons learned. My daughter’s garden in Indian Hills flourished, grew and fruited.  She planted in early May and covered them.  So my seed sprouting was successful.
Evergreen garden area covered and mulched
In 2013, I planned on planting a small garden in my front area.  Mine would not be a raised garden but on the natural land with amendments to help the land for planting and growth.  My daughter’s area was a set of three raised gardens.  She had set them up in 2012.  She enriched them in 2013.  After a few discussions, my daughter and I decided to do what Colorado State University had recommended.  We took soil samples from areas of our landed that had not been cultivated to see what the native soil in our 2 areas were like.  We sent them in early to get an idea before the gardening season started.  The results came back with the following results.  We both had land that needed to be given Nitrogen on a regular basis.  This is true of much of Colorado.  However, here is where they differed.  The Evergreen land was amended well and needed only to be kept up.  It held water well (unlike much of the surrounding land).
Our daughters land on the other hand needs to be amended in a big way and her land did not hold water.  So it required a large amount of amendments and required constant watering.  Her raised beds answered the requirements for her gardening.  

I planted our seeds indoors in early March of 2013.  I planted Tomatoes, peppers, Zucchini Squash, Acorn Squash (seed from previous year’s crop), Spaghetti Squash (seed from previous year’s crop), various flowers.  The peppers never came up.  We did supplement our gardens with plants we bought.  I recorded the progress of the gardens and made comparisons with pictures during the season.  The gardens took about the same amount of time to grow.  However the garden in Indian Hills did better with the squash than did the Evergreen Garden.  The Indian Hills garden receives about 6- 8 hours of sunlight and the Evergreen garden receives 10 hours of sunlight.  Our daughter covered her squash with clear plastic which helped.

The squash in Evergreen struggled all season and produced little fruit.  I will rig some type of cover this year. The peppers we bought did not mature or fruit in either garden.  We will look at a different type of pepper next year to see if we have any better luck. We both had good success with the annuals we planted and bought.  They bloomed into October.  They were Petunias, Alyssum, Icelandic Poppies and Lobelia.  Our daughter also planted Pansies. At the end of the season, Evergreen harvested over ¾ of a bushel of tomatoes from 4 plants, 4 squash and no peppers.  Indian Hills harvested ½ bushel from tomato plants, 12 squash and no peppers.  The tomatoes had to be brought in to ripen after the frost but we did not lose any and they all ripened.

All in all it was a good 1st full year for us and it gives us something to build on. 

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