Starting A Vegetable Garden
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, starting a vegetable garden is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. It doesn’t have to be difficult, and with planning, you can yield bountiful harvests year after year.
Vegetables are a good choice for your backyard garden because they’re a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also require less energy to produce than many other foods and can reduce your carbon footprint.
Traditionally, March is southern Colorado’s snowiest month; however, the region also has sunny, warm days with the transition to spring and the promise of summer. The garden is slowly coming back to life and there’s plenty to do.
Pruning: Clematis jackmanii, a garden classic with a large number of single royal purple blossoms produced in June, July and September, should be pruned in early March before the plant comes out of dormancy.
This cultivar of clematis blooms on new wood every year and, if left alone, will become spindly with decreased blooms. Cut back stems to 9 inches to 12 inches above ground with a clean straight cut. Prune to just above two strong buds.
In the following weeks, as new growth appears, apply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer and train the new stems around a support.
Prune out dead wood in trees and shrubs. However, do not prune living branches on spring-flowering shrubs such as lilac, mock orange or forsythia as these plants should be pruned after they bloom.
Soil preparation: As soon as ground can be worked, till an inch or two of compost or aged manure into vegetable garden soil. If you’re going to start a new perennial garden, dig out sod or weeds and work in the same amount of compost or aged manure.
Get a soil test for established gardens and lawns (learn how at agsci.colostate.edu/soiltestinglab).
Planting: Small bare root trees and shrubs can be planted in March. Choose a time when the forecast calls for three to four mild days. https://csfs.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Nursery-Planting-guide2015.pdf
Plant bare root roses. https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/selecting-and-planting-roses-7-404/
Fall-bearing raspberries also can be planted. https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/raspberries-for-the-home-garden-7-001/
In early spring, plant bare-rooted grape vines (If potted grape vines are selected, wait until May or June.). https://planttalk.colostate.edu/topics/fruits/1203-grapes/ Saint Theresa Seedless Grape, a sweet table grape, is a Plant Select recommendation for our region. See https://plantselect.org/plantstories/saint-theresa-seedless-grape-glorious-grape/
Before the end of the month, plant peas and sweet peas, soaking the seeds overnight first.
Cool-season vegetables, radishes, spinach, arugula, lettuce and onions can go into the prepared garden bed toward the end of the month.
Indoors, start seeds of cold-tolerant annuals such as stock, godetia and slow-growing impatiens, ageratum and lobelia.
Lawn: Core aerate the lawn or have it done by a qualified lawn service. Make sure the soil is moist before aerating to get 3-inch plugs. Leave plugs on the lawn.
Tools: Sharpen the mower blade and replace motor oil. If tools weren’t cleaned in the fall, do it now. Other maintenance includes raking and cleaning the yard and gardens.
Plan: On a snowy day, sit down with paper and pen and make a list of what you want to accomplish in the growing season. New plants? A water feature? Steps to a rock garden? A vegetable garden? It’s time to dream.
Submit gardening questions to email@example.com. Find us on Facebook at Colorado Master Gardeners-El Paso County. Sign up for classes at epcextension.eventbrite.com.