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Spring Fever!

I have a bad case of spring fever!  What snow we have is melting and I went garden shopping.  I’m trying to get everything in place for when I CAN get out into the garden, but getting everything ready really makes me want to get out there and plant something. I went our into the garden this morning and was looking to see how it had fared through the winter.  I have garlic poking up out of the soil.  I don’t know if they sprouted up last fall or this spring, but several varieties have little green shoots with a bit of frost tipburn.  I covered two of the beds with frost cloth last fall thinking I could overwinter greens, carrots, parsnips and leeks.  I tried to see how they were doing today, but couldn’t get the frost cloth lifted up high enough to see much.  It is frozen to the ground and I don’t want to rip it.  What I did see was encouraging.  It looks like some of the greens did overwinter and once the cloth comes off they will sprout right back up.

The seeds that I ordered have arrived (greens, beans, snow peas, carrots and beets) and my seed potatoes (red gold, purple viking and maris piper varieties) will be here about the 1st of May.  I still need to get some spinach seed and maybe a few other specialty vegetables that will grow at higher elevations.  There’s still time to figure out exactly what I want since I plant a bit later up here.  Most people plant their peas about the middle of March, so I figure that I can plant my peas about the middle of April. We are about a month behind at this elevation.

On my shopping excursion I picked up bags of potting soil for the raised beds. I will definitely need more, but this will be enough to fill the other half of the bed that has the garlic planted in it.  I also got some rebar and plastic irrigation line to make the supports over the raised beds so I can drape them with deer netting.  The first couple of years of planting potatoes, the deer left them alone and wouldn’t eat them, but now they seem to have developed a taste for the potato foliage, so I need to protect the spuds.  Too much foliage damage reduces tuber set and then I don’t get good yields. They also never used to bother the garlic, but last year I noticed some nibbled tops so now I need to cover those as well.  And since I now have a total of 4 raised beds, the veggies will go on a crop rotation schedule, so everything will need to be protected. Some new soaker hoses and connecting hoses finished out the shopping list.

Oh, and I also bought some bare root roses.  I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but now I have to figure out what to do with them since I can’t plant them outside just yet.  I also don’t want them to break dormancy, so I might just keep them watered and in the garage for another month.

I know I have to be patient.  March is, after all, our snowiest month and the month has just started.  But man……I sure have spring fever!



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Since I got chased inside by thunder today, I figured I would get caught up on the blog.  I have to say that I am really happy with my garden this year!  Is it perfect?  Of course not!  But I am having a better gardening season than I have had in a long time.  I almost hope I don’t jinx it just by talking about it.

Most of the weeds in front of the beds have been pulled out and disposed of.  Mulch has been spread around the raised beds to help prevent more weeds.  The first two beds are going gangbusters with greens, carrots, beets and peas.  There were a lot of mushrooms in the greens bed for some reason.  I think either the potting mix had a lot of wood chips in it or I might have put some mushroom compost in there that is producing mushrooms.  I won’t eat the mushrooms since I can’t identify them, but they won’t hurt the greens.  I just keep pulling them out.    There are also some volunteer potatoes in the greens bed because I put the potting mix from last year’s potatoes in that bed and apparently didn’t get all the potatoes out of it.  Somehow they managed to overwinter and are sending up shoots.  We’ll see how many potatoes come of it.  It will certainly be a surprise to see what comes of them.  In the second raised bed, the beets and carrots are (mostly) thinned out.  The parsnips have (finally) germinated, and this weekend, I harvested my first small batch of peas.

The potatoes in the grow bags sitting in the third raised bed are growing out of the frost damage we had.  Seems weird that there was a cold snap in July, but this IS Colorado and we ARE in the mountains, so anything can happen.  The research potatoes are not as robust as the regular varieties that I planted.  In fact, there are two bags that did not send out any shoots after hilling them up.  I’ll have to make sure I don’t put that soil in with anything else in case the potatoes rotted.  The nice thing about grow bags is you can clean and sanitize them so there is little risk of infecting potatoes next year.  I noticed the deer are eating the potato shoots around the edges of the raised bed.  I’m not sure why, since there is so much other forage for them to eat.  It doesn’t seem to be harming the plants, though.  Hopefully the potato harvest will be good this year.

The greenhouse is finally fixed.  The panels that had blown out the last couple of winters are replaced and secured.  It’s nice to have that space available again to grow some of the warmer season veggies.  I missed having the basil for cooking.

There are 6 tomato plants, 7 if you count the upside-down hanging tomato.  Also three pots of beans, the classic blue lake, royal burgundy and dragon tongue.  The dragon tongue are yellow pods with maroon mottling.  They sound interesting.  The pictures above from the greenhouse were taken a couple of weeks ago, so everything is much bigger now.  I also have two pots of basil, some sage, and I just planted some garlic chives and oregano today.  I did some cleaning up around the greenhouse today and discovered the deer are eating my lupines.  Oh, well………we do share the mountain.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m really happy with my garden this year.  It’s really gratifying to have little green growing things out there.

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, so I figured it was time to catch everyone up on what’s been happening.  Last year, I built two raised beds in the big garden, getting  them ready to plant into this spring.  This year, I’ve planted greens in one of the two beds built in 2016 (mesclun mix, russian kale, red romaine, leaf lettuce and some leeks) and in the second of the two first built beds are beets, carrots, peas and parsnips.  Both of last year’s beds are covered in deer/bird netting that is tied on with brightly colored flagging tape to (hopefully) keep the deer from getting tangled up in the netting.  Last year, the only thing I planted were potatoes so I’m really happy that there is a lot growing this year.

4th raised bed finished

Third and fourth raised beds, 2017

first two raised beds filled and ready to plant

First two raised beds, 2016


This summer I constructed two additional raised beds.  The only thing in one of the new beds this year are the potatoes in the grow bags but this will give me time to fill them so they’ll both be ready for next year’s growing season.  I’m slowing getting mulch put around the beds to help reduce weed populations and make for a more even walking surface between and around the beds.

After a slow start, the garlic is coming on strong in the garden.  I thought the late snow we had in May might set them back as it broke some of the leaves off, but they are hardy plants.  I harvested the scapes off them this weekend and used them in some scrambled eggs….yum!

I repaired the greenhouse a couple of weekends ago as well.  The panels that the wind took out are replaced and now the tomatoes are in and I planted bean seeds and some herbs this weekend.  I’ll put some more herbs in next weekend but this is a good start.

Now I’m trying to figure out what is next.  I have two rows of t-posts with cordon wire that I strung back when I thought i could grow grapes up here.  Well…..that didn’t happen….it got too cold and the deer absolutely loved the grape leaves so nothing survived.  But I’ve been pondering putting in a hoop house over the t-posts in order to grow cucurbits, things like pumpkins, maybe some summer squash but also some winter squashes.  I’ll have to do some research and figure out if it would be feasible.

all 4 beds

All four raised beds; the weeds in front are not there now.

In addition to getting some seeds planted in the greenhouse, this weekend was all about weeding.  The weeds are starting to take over, especially the annual mustards and cheatgrass.  Since they are flowering and/or setting seeds, they need to be disposed of instead of trying to compost them.  The seeds on the weeds would continue to mature and just add to the seed bank and then there will be more plants…..definitely don’t want that!  The rest of the summer will be more weed pulling and maintenance.  I want to get some more perennials planted but the weeds have to go first so they don’t compete for space, etc.

In the bed by the deck, the peonies came back as did the two lilacs that I planted last year.  And now the smallest lilac (it’s a Miss Kim) is blooming, both peonies have flower buds and it looks like they may have flowers by Saturday.  The russian sage is returning and the Cheyenne Mock Orange is almost ready to bloom as well.  And I keep being amazed that the lavender comes back every year.

peonies and lilacs making a return

Peonies and lilacs before blooms

All in all, this season is going well for gardening.  It is much better than last year and I really enjoy seeing everything growing!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a bountiful harvest.



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I have one word for my garden this weekend…….discouraging!  We had so much rain/snow in May that the weeds (thistle, grasses) are taking over.  I’ve just identified two of my nemeses, can anyone guess the other one?  Critters!  The little darling’s (she says sarcastically).  So what happened this week?

Well, the ground squirrels or chipmunks have managed to dig into my greenhouse and have proceeded to strip one pot of chard, two separate pots of basil seedlings and have munched on at least one tomato plant.  They are also nibbling at my greens (mesclun mix, microgreens).  I’m not really sure what to do about them, other than fill the holes back in to make it harder for them to get in the greenhouse.

Last weekend, I was so happy as my lupines were producing flower stalks and getting ready to show their colors.  This week, they looked like this:

IMG_20150627_174752182I don’t know whether it’s the ground squirrels or deer that have managed to chew their way through all the flower heads on my lupine.  I only hope they will produce more.  The flowers are really pretty.

I weeded some of the large perennial garden today and planted Liatris and Hosta.  The thistle and grasses were taking over so it was time to pull them out of there.  I guess I’m the perennial optimist.  I keep weeding and planting and am hopeful that plants will survive.

There are good things about the garden this week.  Some of the iris are finally blooming and looking fabulous.  My peony came back in great shape and has flower buds.  The geraniums I planted in pots on the deck a couple of weeks ago are blooming.  The potatoes are going gangbusters.  The Purple Viking potatoes I planted a month ago are really tall!  I planted the potatoes in stages, so they are not all at the same growth stage, but they are looking great!  The carrots have germinated and are starting to get bigger.  The garlic are all up and doing well, although they haven’t produced scapes yet.  That will probably happen in the next week or so.  The peas in the walls o’ water are coming on.  It looks like they may flower soon and then we’ll have peas.  I think all of my roses that I replanted last year are coming back.  Hopefully, they’ll produce some flowers.  I’m also hopeful that with all the lush grass around, the deer will leave my garden alone and not try to eat all my plants.

I guess there is more good than bad happening in the garden this week, so that makes me happy.  I think now it’s time for a margarita!

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The last couple of weekends up here have been unusually warm for this time of year. In fact, I think this is the warmest I have seen it this early since we’ve lived up at this elevation. Last weekend I cleaned up all the pots on the deck so I could put out some annuals later this spring. I tried to go out in the garden, but it was too wet to do anything. This weekend, I figured it was time to get out and inspect the garden to see if the soil had dried a bit and what, if anything, I could do. Turns out…..quite a bit for March.

I cleaned out the greenhouse, getting it ready to move new plants in in a couple of months. I need to get out today and repair the plexiglass that broke out over the winter. Luckily, the pieces that came off, came off in one piece and did not break up, so they are reusable.

I noticed the lupines and daffodils around the greenhouse are starting to come up. I think it’s a bit early for them, so hopefully we won’t get any really bad storms. The bearded iris are starting to nose up as well. I hope they do well since the deer discovered them last year and ate the leaves. I thought that they were mostly deer-proof, but apparently not much is totally deer-proof up here.

In the big garden, the iris are starting to come up. The garlic that I planted last fall is starting to show a few stems here and there. I cleaned out the pea stems from last year and actually planted new peas in the walls o’ water. The soil is not frozen anywhere in the garden which is most unusual for this time of year. I also got some daffodil bulbs last November but it was too late to plant them out in the garden at that time so I overwintered them in the garage. They got a good chilling period so when I planted them out yesterday, they were starting to produce stems and should produce some nice flowers in about a month or so.

I still hope we get some nice spring snows up here. The added moisture will help, otherwise it will be a really long spring/summer up here. And I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. We’ll have to wait and see.

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So I finally have had enough with the weeds in my big garden. Last weekend, I got out the big guns to tackle the Canada thistle and apply another application to the smooth brome. These weeds are nasty. Thistle has roots that go straight down, then take a sharp right (or left) so you never can pull the whole root. And when you pull the thistle, it just sends up more shoots from the roots from hell. I took a couple of pics of the thistle plants in decline from the herbicide. I may have to spray again, but they are on the decline!



I also harvested peas today. I got a full colander of snow and sugar snap peas. And last weekend, I harvested the same. I’m really happy with the peas. Since I put the walls o’ water around them, they have taken off. Plus, the rain we’ve been getting has helped a lot, too.

Pea harvest today

Pea harvest today

And the best news (because I’m a geek) is in my greenhouse. I have parasitic wasps that are starting to take care of the aphid problem. I hope I didn’t kill too many of the wasps with my insecticidal spray a while back. These guys are awesome! You really can’t see the parasitic wasps, they are so tiny. They are not like yellow-jackets at all! The parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the aphid, when the egg hatches, the larvae eats the aphid from the inside out, then pupates and exits the dead aphid, leaving aphid mummies. It’s really cool. The aphid mummies are golden in color and more swollen than a regular aphid and if you look at the back end of the mummy, you can see the cut end where the adult parasitic wasp emerged. And the best part is the parasitic wasps showed up on their own. I didn’t have to purchase them or anything.

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

I have a couple of tomatoes on one of my tomato plants in the greenhouse and lots of flowers on the eggplant. I hope it’s not getting too hot in there and the flowers are aborting. I opened the door a bit to help it cool down, so hopefully more tomato and eggplant flowers will set fruit.

It’s another good week in the garden.

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The July monsoons are officially here. It has rained at least two or three days this last week and at least once each day this weekend. What does this mean for the garden? I didn’t have to water much! The greenhouse veggies needed water, but the outside garden is doing great. The peas in the walls o’ water are flowering. The roses are settling in nicely from the transplant last weekend and have actually put on new leaves.

I got insecticidal soap and drenched the peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse this weekend. I will probably have to make another application, but I hope I put a serious dent in the aphid population. The beans, tomatoes and eggplants in the greenhouse have flowers on them as well, so I hope they will set fruit soon. I will fertilize the tomatoes next weekend to make sure they have enough food for fruit production. Last weekend I harvested a bunch of basil to dry down and it looks like next weekend I’ll have to harvest again. It is doing fabulously well in the greenhouse.

The iris got planted this weekend, which will be a nice show of flowers next year. The lupine that was feasted on by critters is really making a nice comeback. I hope the lupines flower this year. It will be a nice addition to the garden.

The potatoes are producing nice vegetation and I am seeing little flower buds on some of them. I’m hoping to have a great crop this year. The garlic seems to be doing well, but it has not produced scapes yet, so I think they are a little behind this year.

The peony that I planted on the west side of the house has bloomed! Yay! I planted this peony 3 years ago and had forgotten what color the blossoms were supposed to be. They are a beautiful ruby color.

Peony bloom close-up

Peony bloom close-up

Peony blooms

Peony blooms

I think I will have to use the grass herbicide again. I was told that smooth brome can be a bugger to get rid of, so that might happen next weekend. The first application may have set it back a bit, but it hasn’t totally killed the grassy weeds yet.

Lastly, the Rufous hummingbirds have finally arrived and are battling it out with the Broad-tailed hummingbirds for space on the feeder. I always assumed we had Ruby Throated hummingbirds, but doing a bit of research for the links, Ruby Throated hummingbirds are east of the Mississippi. They don’t migrate this far west in the summer. The Broad-Tailed hummingbirds are the ones that migrate to the Central Rockies. They look pretty similar to the Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Either way, they are just amazing to watch.

Have a great week and happy gardening!

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