Gardening Between Storms

May 15th – when it is usually a safe time to plant tender annual flowers – is six weeks away.  What can we do in the meantime?  Prep and plan!
Preparing
All the beautiful flowers and bountiful veggies you want to grow this year begin in the soil.  It’s where seeds germinate, grow their roots and take their first steps toward the plants they will become.  Get the soil incubator ready now to nurture the seeds and plants you’ll be putting into the ground next month.  Add quality compost and till it into the soil either by hand or with a rototiller.

Consider a soil test.  The results will provide useful information about the quality of the soil and help guide your fertilizer program.  Colorado State University has a soil testing lab and provides instructions for collecting a soil sample and submitting it for evaluation.  Fees are reasonable.

Another productive task is to check out the condition of last season’s tomato towers and pea and bean trellises.  Early spring is a good time to stock up on these items and other supplies you will need later.  It’s a time saver to shop now before garden centers get busy and have long lines at checkout.

Planning
It’s always smart to have a plan for the edibles garden and seasonal color that will brighten beds and containers.  What would you like to do new or differently?  For example, striped petunias and those with a lime green edge will be popular this year.  If these trends are something you want to include, get them on your list and build your plan around them.

Planning checklist for annual flowers  

  • Color scheme – will 2014 mean a monochromatic mix of different flowers all of one color, an assortment of mixed colors, very bright colors or soft pastels?  Having a color scheme in mind will help direct your plant choices.
  • Texture and foliage – are you considering some containers that are exclusively foliage?  Do you want foliage plants interspersed with annuals?  Are you seeking a few plants with a dramatic texture?  Making these decisions ahead of time will further direct your choices.
  • Moisture and exposure – water and light needs vary among annuals.  Some need less than 1″ of water per week and others need more than 1 ½”.  Some flowers and foliage plants will thrive in sun, others need shade and still others can tolerate some of both.  Placing and grouping flowers based on these requirements will create a more successful garden.

Planning checklist for warm-season veggies

  • Go back through your records and list those all-time favorite varieties you want to grow again.
  • Try something new – what would challenge your green thumb?
  • When you draw the layout of this year’s garden, remember to rotate crops away from where the same plant was grown last year.  And keep a record of this year’s final planting plan so you can use it to plan rotations next year.
  • Plan enough space for each plant.  Over-crowding will limit production.
  • Plant a few extra varieties that grow well for you to share with friends, neighbors and the local food bank.

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