Spring is only 20 days away, and it’s time to start planning the vegetable garden! The vegetables I prepared for tonight’s stir fry dinner are a terrific inspiration for this year’s planting plan. Since water will probably be more expensive this year, I’m only going to plant what we regularly eat. In Zone 5, Denver, Colorado, the last average annual frost date is around May 15, but many vegetables can be started earlier from seed indoors. Whether you choose to start with your own seeds, or purchase transplants from a nursery, now is a good time to start planning. Here is a shout-out to Gardener’s Supply Company, which has a terrific, easy-to-use online planner for raised bed gardening. So easy, a novice can do it! Click here to try it out. Simply enter the size of your bed, and a square-foot grid appears. You can drag and drop your desired vegetable varieties, and the planner calculates the number of plants for you. Planting instructions for different vegetables are included. Flowers can be incorporated too. Be sure and check with your county extension office to find the specific varieties recommended for your area. To find out about the benefits of square foot gardening developed by Mel Bartholomew, click here. Happy planning!
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar titled, “Green Strategies for Colorado Landscapes.” presented by the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC). Designed for green industry personnel, it was a great way for attendees to learn how to share practical sustainable ideas with their clients. The speaker, Tony Koski, Ph.D., is an Extension Turf Specialist with Colorado State University, and is well-recognized throughout the country as a leading horticulturist. Tony delivered a terrific talk full of researched-based information on how to cope with the challenging landscape conditions in Colorado in environmentally sensitive ways.
Adopting one definition from the University of Minnesota, Tony defined a sustainable landscape as one that is “functional, maintainable, environmentally sound, and aesthetically pleasing.” The important principles that he included were:
Landscaping in harmony with the natural conditions in Colorado
Reducing waste and recycling materials
Nurturing healthy soils
Conserving water, energy and topsoil
Using integrated pest management
Reducing stormwater runoff
Creating and preserving wildlife habitats
Many of these topics can be adapted to the home, and backyard environment. Every gardener can create a “sustainable” landscape, incorporating some of these principles. As we head into the gardening season, look for more posts on this important topic!