Garden – Phase One

It’s hard to grow things in Colorado. Way different from the black dirt in Iowa that we were used to. Up until now the only thing we’ve taken a stab at was tomatos and even those were a touch difficult due to the short growing season. This year Rhonda saw a neat idea in a magazine that we could use to extend the growing season and so we decided to try our hand at gardening again.The basic idea is to accomplish three main things; better soil, solar gain, and regular watering.

We covered the ground with an old carpet earlier this year in the hopes of raising the soil temperature from solar gain. This worked out pretty well and I spaded up the soil to a depth of about eight inches and then Rhonda started adding compost, vermiculite, and other stuff to improve the quality.

Hoop Garden - Click for Larger PictureThe “structure” was my challenge. The magazine picture shows what looks like a simple hoop structure made out of a few boards, some plastic water pipe, and a plastic covering. I made a trip to Lowes and came home with some materials. It was one of those build it as you go projects which can sometimes create some interesting twists and turns in the design. The structure came together pretty well but the plastic covering was not so fun. Seems like every time we went to put the plastic on it was windy.

The fundamental concept was to create a raised-bed, square-foot style garden with a covering to extend the growing season and in this, we succeeded. The manual watering thing wasn’t going too well so to accomplish a daily water scheme I managed to tap into an unused zone on our sprinkler system and rig up some mist sprayers inside the structure which were programmed to come on for a short bit every morning. This made a huge difference in how the plants grew.

It has gone pretty well for a first attempt. We did have some problems with the soil being too “hot”, chemically that is, and the crazy plastic did not hold up to the intense ultraviolet well at all. By the middle of the summer it had gotten brittle and a good wind came along and shattered it into many pieces. But we’ve gotten quite a lot of yummy produce out of it so far.