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Oh how my garden grows...

Angela Shy's picture

Garden Shot: Out door gardenGarden Shot: Out door gardenASPEN, CO - So another Summer Season in the mountains is coming to a close. Before we know it the snow will be falling once again and the garden we've worked so hard on will disappear into the ground for another 6 months. This is a bittersweet time of year for me because though I love the Summer I love even more what is just around the corner... WINTER!! But I'm in no true hurry. I absolutley love the Fall and the weather it brings to us lucky souls who have chosen to reside in this wonderland that is the Rocky Mountains :)

As mentioned earlier, this time of year brings to a close the gardens many of us have worked hard on all Summer long and I am one of those hard working gals who loves to play in the yard and dig in the dirt. This Summer season has been a grand year for our flowers, trees and veggies. Part of the reason might be the decision myself and my husband made to not water our grass as much as we have in the past, because we've found it's a pretty useless and "fruitless" practice, unless we don't mind spending mucho dinero on endless amounts of water which in the end just doesn't do what we need it to do for the lawn: MAKE IT GROW! Instead we decided to water everything else and by doing so we have created quite a bit of privacy (the trees and the leaves block out a lot) for ourselves AND our neighbors. We also acknowledge the fact that by adding more life to our yard we help the air to be cleaner and the view to be better on the eyes :) We like to think that we add to our neighbors serenity, as well as our own, by creating beauty!

Over the last 6 years, since becoming homeowners with plenty of planting space, we've been able to let our garden gusto grow! We have admittedly gone through quite a bit of trial and error in regards to what will grow and what won't but this season I truly feel we have finally found some plants that will continue to be on our gardening list for years to come!

On our mountain garden journey thus far here are a few things we have learned:

1. The planting season is short so plant early and plan on covering the tomatoes before the season is over!
2. Focus on plants that will grow in our region! Many of the places that sell plants import them from warmer climates and in turn THEY DO NOT GROW WELL... That doesn't mean they won't grow but it may take quite a bit of TLC and patience.
3. Focus on plants that like warm days and cool nights because that's what we get!
4. Pay attention to the tag that states what kind of sunlight they need. When it say's Full Sun or Part Shade that is what it means. I find even the ones that say Full Sun sometimes crinkle and burn from our Colorado sunlight.
5. Look for plants that can withstand drought conditions because that is what we get ;)

Learning what makes our garden grow has been at times quite a painstaking process but this Summer we were really able to enjoy the "fruits" of our labor which gives purpose to the process ;)
In the past we've struggled with both edible plants as well as flowering plants but feel as though we have finally found a middle ground in both areas. Here are a few options, both edible and flowering, that have offered us an afternoon organic healthy treat as well as a homegrown peice of artwork:

Veggies
1. Peas
2. Carrots (They are super sweet and tasty especially when they are still small!)
3. Radishes
4. Kohlrabis (German Turnip) (They LOVE the cool nights!!)
5. Lettuce (All kinds!)
6. Spinach

Flowers
1. Hollyhocks (They create a ridiculous amount of seeds that can either be saved and planted the following year or they will drop and continue to grow all Summer long.)
2. Petunias (These are great because they drop seeds and will continue to grow especially when planted in the ground. If in a planter you may find them growing on the ground below.)
3. Clematis
4. Sunflowers (The birds love to eat them and also carry and drop the seeds. You can also harvest them and eat them or save them for next year.)
5. 4 o' clocks
6. Columbines (It's the state flower... what more can I say?)

What we have also learned is that once you've planted something, and it grows, it pays to collect some seeds for next year! We actually had tomato plants grow this Summer because of tomatoes that had fallen to the ground last summer and were rototilled into our garden this year! Not all plants are perrenials but if you save seeds you can keep the plants you love year to year without having to buy more seeds.

We still have time left in our gardens. Our tomatoes and squash actually made it through the 28 degree night we had a few days ago! From now on we'll have to pay more attention to the weather so as to cover the plants when necessary but that's part of the gardening game in the mountains and the diligence is worth it!
Continue to get down and dirty in the garden while letting dreams of snowy slopes slip into your minds... We really have the best of both worlds here in the hills!!!