Spring is my favorite season. I feeling the air change, see the days slowly getting longer and smell the freshness around me. I also love spring because its garden season! This is our 4th year planting our backyard veggie garden and we are learning new things each time we plant. We live in high altitude, so we have to make some adjustments to ensure optimal growing conditions. For one, the growing season usually starts later and ends earlier than our lower elevation counterparts. So we built a greenhouse! We used mostly scrap wood from one of our house renovations and made sure to get the EXTRA heavy duty greenhouse plastic.
My dad (#theoriginalgreenthumb) always worked with a greenhouse. That meant we could start our seeds super early in the season, usually around March 15, and transplant those “starts” into the outdoor garden when the last frost was through. The greenhouse is not necessary but definitely provides an opportunity to have a longer growing season. Plus it helps keep pests away. That’s been our other challenge: squirrels, mag-pies, rabbits, bugs love to eat our veggies before we do. I’ve been experimenting with natural repellents – I’ve read that rabbits do not like the smell of peppermint, so we will be putting a few drops of peppermint essential oil on cotton balls and place them around the garden. Fingers crossed!
Aside from the abundance of organic veggies that we harvest all summer, having a garden has been an awesome way for us to connect to the natural world. Its also been really cool to get our kiddos out there to work in the dirt alongside us. Being around plants has fantastic benefits for the human psyche.
I love the many metaphors + life lessons in growing food in your garden.
– You reap what you sow.
Yes your results depend on your efforts. An abundance of veggies in your backyard won’t just appear, you must intentionally plant the seeds. If you follow the process you will get results.
– You get what you give: If you want to grow a patch of tomatoes in your backyard that will be ready to eat this summer you have to give… you have to give your time, energy and commitment to helping your tomato grow.
Here are some tips and tricks to get your backyard garden started:
order your seeds from a reputable source as early as February. We use Johnny’s Seeds, I have friends who love http://www.rareseeds.com
and also source from their local nursery.
HOT WEATHER VEGGIES
German Winter Thyme
Tomato (sun gold, sweet million)
Planting Phase I: Cold weather planting can start as soon as soil can be worked (or you can start in your greenhouse if you have one). Usually this is mid-March. Frost protection is key! Use a fabric to cover your newly planted seeds or keep a small heater in your greenhouse to keep temp above 50 degrees at night.
-mustard greens, kale (red or green), Asian greens
Planting Phase II: Everything else can be planted late April / early May. You can direct seed your spinach + lettuce outside in your garden beds. Put your late season Fall crops in trays the first week of April. You can transplant your lettuce plugs that were started in March.
Companion planting: Some plants do really well with a “buddy”… check out this fun infographic with details about which plants grow better with a buddy.