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Beacon Senior News

Plan out your garden utopia now

Jan 28, 2020 10:15AM ● By Paige Slaughter

In Colorado, we have the luxury of living a little bit closer to the sun. In fact, our state has the highest average elevation in the country, and we get on average more than 300 partially sunny days per year.

Whether we’re growing greens in backyard beds or using cold weather helpers like frost blankets and hoop houses, we’re blessed with lots of days to grow food.

You might be direct seeding greens or starting seeds indoors as early as next month. So in the meantime, enjoy a few sunny winter days getting your garden ready for another bountiful season.

Organize your tools and create space for growth

Taking pride in a workspace can have tremendous benefits to our overall experience. When we get organized, we set ourselves up for more success and a better time in the garden.

Having your garden tools in one place, all neat, clean and organized, will make going out into the garden for a few minutes here and there all the more enjoyable.

Rather than spending your time searching for tools, you can grab the pruner you need, stroll over to the patch of calendula, and cut flowers to harvest petals for your summer salad. Instead of digging through a shed full of junk, find your trowel instantly and dig into the earth.

Organization allows us to spend more time simply and effortlessly enjoying the fruits of our labor. When we weave these moments into daily life, it becomes all the more rewarding.

Care overflows into other areas of life.

Ever hear the saying, how you do one thing is how you do everything? When we take the time to clean and organize one space—to set ourselves up for success and joy—we begin to practice it in other spaces. It’s a domino effect of taking care of yourself by tending to the physical spaces you spend your time in.

Gardening teaches us to enjoy the little things: the sprouting seed, the earthworm, the butterfly, the crisp head of lettuce. Gardening gives us the opportunity to carry that lesson into daily life and into all our spaces.

Plan your garden utopia

It’s easy to forget—amidst all the beauty, possibility, labor and jargon bubbling around in the world of gardening—that growing food is incredibly simple. So if planning your garden means choosing seeds based solely on the pictures that most entice you, great! There’s no rule that says you need to know what you’re doing.

That said, more detailed planning helps us maximize resources, optimize our space and help us learn and grow as gardeners year to year. So embrace your own planning style. As long as your planning process works for you, there are no rules.

1. Consider your space and your needs.

Understand the possibilities and limits of the space available to you. Work with your environment, not against it. Accept the shady spots (plan to grow greens and tender herbs), the rocky soils (try lavender or Columbines) and the cement (potted plants are friends). Rather than forcing your garden space to be what it’s not, embrace it, and plan your garden accordingly.

Likewise, understand your own needs. Remember last month’s column? How can gardening support your goals and help you tend to what matters most?

If raised beds will make gardening more enjoyable to you, plan on using raised beds. Prioritize your joy and well-being, and your garden will likely be more rewarding and bountiful.

2. Succession, succession, succession.

Succession planting means planting seeds and plant starts throughout the season rather than all at once, in order to give you a longer and more abundant harvest. Planning out your successions—what you’ll plant, when and where—helps you maximize your space and remember all the plantings!

Optimize your space by choosing a diverse mix of crops. Choose cold-season and quick-growing plants to extend the season, fill in gaps, and keep soils covered and productive, rather than exposed and stagnant. Sow quick-growing crops regularly in small amounts to enjoy harvests throughout the season, rather than getting a big, single flush.

In your planning, think about vertical space as much as you think about the ground area, and consider pairing different plants that will grow together harmoniously.

3. Trust your intuition.

So much about gardening is intuitive, and the more we practice the act of trusting our intuition the more in tune with it we become, and the better gardeners we become along the way. If you have an idea or inclination, follow it. A little research can help us turn our inklings into solid plans and our tiny curiosities into big discoveries.

Prepare the soil

Everything above ground starts with the health and vibrancy of the ground. Once the soil is workable and you’re ready to start sowing seeds, prepare your garden beds by loosening compacted soil, mixing in compost and amendments, level the soil, and water lightly to help it all settle in. If you’re feeling fancy, get a soil test and see what amendments your soil might benefit from.

Make the most of living in our sunny state by soaking up some rays while you prepare your garden for a fresh, new season. (Or enjoy the cold weather from a comfy chair, curled up with your ideas and garden plans in the making).