Now is the Time to Plant
The night-time lows for the next week are up to 40-50 degrees along the Front Range. These warm nights combined with still warmer day-time temps mean the soil is warming up and ready for planting.
That’s why this weekend is the prime one to get to the garden center, scoop up some plants and get them into the ground so they can start growing during the warm week that’s ahead.
Here are some easy and efficient ways to get your garden off to a good season.
Start with the soil
Because seeds and roots are tied to the soil, the soil needs to be in good condition for growing robust and productive plants. Unfortunately, urban soils are often compacted and low in organic matter. Amending the soil puts organic material back into soil, reduces compaction and improves soil life. The end goal is healthier plants that yield more produce.
Before planting, add 2 to 3 inches of compost over the garden and gently work it into the soil. Now is the first of two critical times to add compost. The next time is in the fall when you put the garden to bed for the winter.
Seeds or starter plants?
Garden centers are brimming with many varieties young tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and herbs for the kitchen garden. With Colorado’s short growing season, we often rely on starter plants over seeds for warm season veggies because they give us a jump on the growing season.
The one exception is plants in the squash family such as pumpkins, zucchini, yellow and delicata squash. These veggies are generally better to start directly in the ground from seed. The transplant shock puts starter plants so far behind in their growth that you will generally get bigger plants faster by planting seeds in the ground.
When planting most veggies, we simply take the plant out of the pot and place it in the soil at the same height it was in the container. When planting tomatoes, however, try a different technique. Place the plant deeper so that the two lowest branches of the plant are underneath the soil. Planting those branches in the soil will create more root structure that will make the plant stronger over time.
After plants are in the ground – what next?
- Water appropriately – and don’t over water. May is sometimes a rainy month, so take advantage of what Mother Nature provides. Check the soil for moisture and water when it starts to dry.
- Use drip irrigation to save water. Drip puts water right where the plants need it at the roots and very little water is lost to evaporation.
- Mulch the garden with wood chips, straw, grass clippings – or even newspaper. Mulch helps hold in moisture and control weeds. Having fewer weeds to pull is always a plus