For all you die hard gardeners next month Larry Stebbins the director of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (PPUG) will be giving a class entitled “Fall Veggie Class”.  This class is the first in a series of six classes Larry will present throughout the winter.  The “Fall Veggie Class”  will not only cover Fall Veggies, but also what worked and what did not work in the garden this year.

Just like the rest of the U.S. we have had some unusual weather to deal with this past summer.  First our May was cold and damp then came the heat in June followed by the rain in July.  It was a challenging year to be a Colorado Gardener.  Larry is a great speaker and just full of knowledge about growing vegetables here in Colorado.  Go to to register and attend the class.

hail_driveway.jpgInevitably, gardeners in our area will have to deal with hail at some point in the growing season. Our area is so large and spread out that weather can be highly localized though. So rarely would the entire Pikes Peak region suffer from a hail storm all at once! No, we all politely take our turns.

This past weekend, it was the downtown and west side’s turn to experience a pretty heavy hail storm (Saturday, July 2). The hail was only about dime-sized (only!), but there was enough of it to shred many of our plants’ leaves. As I stepped outside after the hail was done (or so I thought – another round came about fifteen minutes later), I marveled at the fresh smell of cilantro and mint mingling together. I used a snow shovel to clear the hail and debris off the deck and walk as well as to shovel water off the driveway and into my beds. (Yes, you really can shovel water with certain snow shovels.) (more…)

Q: Can you give me some hints and tips for growing lettuce?

A: Lettuce is a cool season vegetable which means that it can be planted very early in the spring, as much as 2-to-4 weeks before the average last (spring) frost date. It survives frosty nighttime temperatures and grows with daytime temperatures as low as 40 degrees. Freshly picked lettuce has a delicious taste that is far better than grocery store lettuce.

There are four different general varieties of lettuce though leaf lettuce, rather than head lettuce, is the most common for home gardens as the leaves can be harvested as needed, leaving the plant to regenerate more leaves. (more…)

Have you noticed that some of the veggies and herbs in your garden aren’t yet thriving? I’ve noticed that my basil seems especially displeased with our current weather pattern. If my tomatoes weren’t still in their Wall o’ Waters, I’m sure they’d be looking a bit weak too. Yes, we are having below normal temperatures this season, especially at night. Lots of our plants like to have nighttime temperatures at least above 50 degrees, but we’ve been dipping down into the 40’s in the middle of town (and those of you further north and west may be getting a few degrees colder than that!). Fortunately, some plants – like broccoli, lettuce, etc. – LOVE this kind of weather, and if you’re growing them, you’re probably enjoying a bumper crop.

But the forecast is showing a warm-up, so here is what you can do to give a few of your more heat-loving veggies and herbs a boost.

If you don’t have them in any kind of protective structure or in something like the insulating Wall o’ Waters, they may be languishing a bit. We don’t advocate overfertilizing tomatoes (unless you want lots of lovely green leaves and no fruit), but when we have had a cold snap, research has shown that giving your plants a dose of balanced liquid fertilizer can help them get back to the business of growing again. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer you choose. One dose should be good for those plants in the ground. If you are growing your plants in containers with sterile potting soil (with no added fertilizers), then you should be fertilizing them more frequently anyway – every week or two at half the strength recommended on the fertilizer container. If your plant put on a fruit or two a few weeks ago and hasn’t been doing much since, it’s advisable (but by no means easy) to pluck those fruit and let them plant concentrate on growing a bit bigger before setting new fruit. (more…)

This is the perfect time of the season to take care of mulching your vegetable garden. Often gardeners take time to mulch their perennial, shrub, and other beds, but they don’t think about mulch in their veggie beds. Given that your vegetable beds likely use the most water of any areas in your garden, mulching can go a long way in helping conserve water, keeping weeds under control, and in keeping your veggies happy with more consistent moisture. Here is a quick primer on different mulch materials you might consider:


Black Plastic Mulch

Black Plastic Mulch

Black plastic
This type of mulch is used very early in the season (typically being put down in April) to warm up the soil for plants that will be planted later, such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash. If you are going to use plastic to warm the soil, be sure to use a thick plastic (5 mil or so). Don’t use plastic garbage bags since they aren’t thick enough, will tear easily, and will soon be blowing around in your garden in the spring winds. Instead, check in the painting supplies section of your hardware store for drop-cloth quality black plastic. Usually holes are then cut in the plastic in mid-to-late May to accommodate transplants. If the plants haven’t grown large enough to shade the plastic once temperatures are routinely in the 80’s and 90’s, remove the plastic mulch and replace it with one of the following organic mulches. (more…)

pepper_chilly_chileQ: I don’t have a whole lot of space. How can I still have a vegetable garden?

A: Everyone is looking for ways to save money and get back to basics. Planting a vegetable garden is one way to put fresh, healthy food on the table while saving big bucks. How do you design a garden that meets your needs? Plant a specialty garden designed around your family’s food preferences.

The following gardens are designed for a 3×6’ garden plot or raised bed. Choose a sunny spot (at least 6 hours of sun daily), provide fertile soil with good drainage, and add the seeds or seedlings of your favorite veggies. Place your garden in a handy spot, so you can water and inspect it daily. Local nurseries have a good selection of seeds and starter plants for Colorado gardens. (more…)

Q: What can I be doing in my yard and garden in early spring?

A: Here are a few tips to get your yard ready for the growing season.

Rake up last fall’s leaves, pine needles, thatch and other debris. Make sure the grass is getting adequate moisture to avoid grass mite damage and other dry turf problems.


photo by Don Bunce, Colorado Master Gardener

Aeration plugs

Aeration is the best way to help your lawn thrive. It will reduce thatch and soil compaction, improve water and air absorption, encourage healthy root growth and control weeds. Remember to flag sprinkler heads before aeration. Plugs should be evenly spaced and two to three inches long, so watering well beforehand is a must. Aeration provides a great surface for fertilizing or over-seeding.


Fertilizer should be applied when grass is actively growing. Fertilize cool grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and ryegrass in the spring. Wait to fertilize warm weather grasses such as buffalo grass, blue grama, and bermudagrass in midsummer. Colorado lawns prefer a fertilizer that is primarily nitrogen and includes some iron. Mulching mowers leave the grass on the turf and essentially provide all the needed nitrogen. (more…)