The Veggie Gang

Don’t let a lack of space stop you from growing fresh vegetables. Even if you only have a small yard or live in a condo or apartment you can enjoy fresh and tasteful vegetables from your own garden. Most people think you need a big gardening space to grow your favorite vegetables, but you don’t. Picking the right type of vegetable and a variety of containers you can grow succulent vegetables too.

When choosing your vegetables look for varieties that will grow well in small places. Choose bush beans instead of climbers. Choose from the many determinate tomatoes out on the market. You are not limited just to determinate varieties, you can also grow indeterminate tomatoes like Brandywine, Celebrity, Better Boy and many more. With the indeterminate varieties will have to install a trellis. There are many dwarf varieties of vegetables on the market. (more…)

Mulched garlic

According to the latest report from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, “Extreme drought conditions exist from Colorado Springs and Pueblo to the San Luis Valley and over most of the plains to the southeast of the big metro areas.”

If you live here, this isn’t exactly news. The  fields are turning brown months early, wildflowers are small and sparse , and even the most aggressive weeds are wilting.

Living in the low-rainfall west, we’re used to gardening with minimal water. Xeriscaping is a household word, and basic principles of low-water gardening are widely available.


If you have lived here in  Colorado for any length of time you know how bizarre and unpredictable our weather can be.  As a gardener in Colorado we have to go to extreme lengths at times to have productive vegetable gardens.  If you have never used garden fabric/row cloth in your vegetable garden now might be perfect time to check it out.

This spring has been one of cold temperatures with little moisture.  Now the temperatures are rising fast, what is a gardener to do to ensure a healthy and productive vegetable garden?  The answer may be just a short drive to your local nursery or your favorite gardening catalog.  Garden fabric has many valuable uses in the garden at a very minimal expense.

  • Protects your plants from the cold and wind
  • Protects your transplants from harsh conditions while acclimating to the outdoors conditions
  • Protects your plants from diseases and bugs
  • Helps to moderate the soil temperatures

There are a number of different garden fabrics in the market, you must decide what you are trying to accomplish.  Are you trying to keep your plants warm or cool?  Are you trying to protect your plants from bugs?  Or are you trying to protect your transplants from the wind?  Once you have decided what your mission is you can start shopping for the correct garden fabric.

An all-purpose fabric cloth can usually meet the typical gardener’s requirements.  It can protect your plants down to a certain temperature, keep the bugs out and provide protection for your newly planted transplants.  Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s fabric cloth’s description.  It is a good idea to keep a variety of fabric cloth on hand  so you can adapt as the season changes.

In the early spring you are looking for a fabric cloth that will protect our plants from cold temperatures.  Some fabric cloths provide protection down to 24 degrees while letting 70% of the sun rays penetrate.  It also allows the rain and overhead watering to penetrate.

Come summer you are looking for a fabric cloth that will keep your cool weather crops like lettuce from getting overheated, becoming bitter and finally bolting.  At the same time you need a fabric cloth that will keep insects like the carrot fly and cabbage root fly out.

Once your vegetables are up and producing you want to protect them from those varmints looking for a free meal.  How many times have you gone out in the morning for some fresh strawberries for your cereal only to find the birds have beat you to them?  All you have to do pull your fabric cloth back pick the vegetables you want and cover them back up.

Fabric cloth is easy to install.  You can just loosely lay it down on top of your plants and as they grow the cloth will remain on top.  Ah but we live in Colorado where those nasty Chinook winds blow everything from here to Kansas.  One way to keep your fabric cloth here in Colorado is install hoops over your vegetables and attach the cloth to the them.  Or you can just put dirt on the cloth that hangs down the sides or stake it with some garden staples.

Here is an example of a more permanent method of covering your crops.  It is very sturdy, allows moisture in and keeps bugs out.  It takes about 20 minutes to build and can be used time after time depending on the strength of fabric cloth you use.  This one was built with UV Spun-bonded Polypropylene – 1.25 oz/sq.yard- approx. 10 mil.

No matter what type of fabric cloth you decide to use the ultimate end is to harvest good looking, tasty vegetables from your garden.

Contributed by Rich Young, Certified Colorado Gardener.

wallowater.jpgYes, yes, we have now officially passed the (trumpet fanfare) “average last frost date” for our area – approximately May 15. I’ve been watching lots and lots of tomato plants leaving the big box gardening centers for the past several weeks. And Memorial Day weekend is probably the biggest week for garden centers everywhere – lots and lots more tomatoes and annuals will be heading out to home landscapes. (more…)

Springtime not only brings thoughts of flowering crocus, daffodils, tulips and planting vegetables, but of spring cleaning in the garden.  Left behind from fall and winter are masses of leaves, twigs, needles and blown trash stuck in every nook and cranny in our gardens.  Spring is the time to clear away the debris so new life can emerge from the warming soil to once again brighten our gardens.

While doing your Spring cleaning in your garden not only be vigilant with your cleaning, but also look for overwintering insect eggs.  One in particular is the Mantids or you may know it by its commonly referred name the “Praying Mantis”.  If you are fortunate enough to discover one do not destroy it.  The Mantids are one of the best beneficial insects to have in your garden. (more…)

Summer has come and gone and Fall is now here which means the first frost is not far behind.  I tried a new vegetable in the garden this year “Yellow Spaghetti Squash”.  One reason was I always like to experiment with new vegetables and second I am on a Gluten Free Diet because I have Celiac Disease and was looking for a good substitute for spaghetti.

Spaghetti Squash usually takes between 90 to 100 days to reach its maturity, depending on the variety.  You can tell it is ready to harvest when the fruit has turned a deep yellow color, and the rind is hard.  Another way to make sure it is ready to harvest, is your fingernail to test the hardness of the skin.  You want to make sure it does not give anywhere on the fruit.


You may overlook the display at first, hidden among the photos of bright red tulips and sunny daffodils. Bulb planting season is here, and garden centers have towers of cardboard boxes labeled with spring blooms, somewhat incongruous at this time of year. Go ahead and pick out those hyacinths and crocuses, but don’t forget the garlic!

Sure, you can buy garlic at the market, but it’s one of those crops that is much better when home-grown. In this case, it’s not so much the just-harvested freshness as it is the variety. Most grocery stores do not sell the good stuff.


Plant? NOW?

Temperatures are climbing into the 90s, your spring-planted crops are reaching maturity, and you’re excited about garden fresh salads and new potatoes. Besides harvesting your bounty, there are millions of weeds to be pulled, poisoned, or decapitated. The last thing on your mind is planting more seeds.

In more benign climates, fall crops go in at the end of the summer, after the worst heat has passed. But our short season demands that we plant fall crops earlier, to give them time to mature before the snow flies. Now is the time.


Q: My zucchini plants are producing plenty of flowers, but no squash. Sometimes they start to grow little squashes but then the babies turn yellow to brown, get all wrinkled, and fall off. What’s wrong?

A: It’s highly likely the problem involves zucchini sex.

All squash plants (and related crops such as cucumbers) produce two kinds of flowers, male and female. Here’s how to tell them apart:

The male flower has a long stem, while the female flower has a tiny squash at its base, and a shorter stem.


We’ve probably all seen the ads for growing upside down tomatoes. They’re the Big New Idea in gardening. The question everyone is asking is, do they work here in Colorado?

Carol O’Meara is the horticultural extension agent in Boulder county. She has decided to find out for herself if growing tomatoes upside-down works in our climate, and is sharing the ongoing results of her experiment on her blog, Gardening After Five. She brings up a number of important issues; reading her article is a good place to start.


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