Thursday, April 2, 2009

Resources for Growing Your Own

Food prices and Michelle Obama are responsible for a swelling interest in home food gardens. Growing food isn't hard, but can be challenging especially on the Front Range. Before you put a lot of money and energy into the ground do some homework.

The Colorado State University Extension offers good information and assistance. The other day I was reading an article that focused on the fear of chemicals in the back yard and the danger of backyard gardens. To relieve any fears you can order a soil test from the Extension. Many good garden centers also offer basic soil test that will help you determine the nutrition needs of your soil.

The most common mistakes first time gardeners make are:
  • Too big--plotting out to large of a garden with too many plants. Your garden won't be successful if it becomes too time consuming. Start small. You may even consider container gardening with a few of your favorites like tomatoes and herbs.

  • Wrong plants--Pumpkins are great fun to watch grow, but other than jack-o-lanterns would you use them?

  • Planting too early. Mother's Day is traditionally when most gardeners will plant, but be prepared to cover the plants Memorial Day weekend since it often is cold and rainy and may even snow.

Soil temperature planting is the best way to determine planting time:

Soil temperatures for vegetable seed germination (soil temperatures measured with a soil thermometer at 4 inches at 8:00 a.m.)

Cool season vegetables –35 degrees - lettuce and onions
40 degrees – peas, radishes, spinach, cabbage
Warm season vegetables –
50 degrees – tomato, peppers, corn
55 degrees – beans
60 degrees – cucumbers, squash, eggplant

I have to laugh at this photo of Michelle Obama. Yes, it's set up for the press, but really she couldn't be dressed more inappropriately for gardening.

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