Tag Archives: Raised Beds

Spring in My Gardens, 2018

Spring in My Gardens, 2018

Photos from March 30:  Lillian planting peas with her grandma, Terry.   Turning the soil in the raised beds.

Although its early May, I’ve already been working in my gardens for nearly two months.  Often the first trip to the community garden occurs on a warm day in late February or early March and snow may still be on the ground.  Many times, we’ve had to brush aside snow and chisel away at the soil to get our St. Patrick’s Day peas planted.  But not this year.   We had a rather mild winter in Colorado so the soil was uncharacteristically workable in early March.   My garden pals and I were thus at Rosedale digging early in the season and the peas went in like butter.

Photos:  Toasting St. Patrick’s Day with my mom’s Waterford goblets, picking up free compost and burlap bags at Allegro’s Coffee’s Earth Day Celebration, me posing in front of our robust garlic patch with Marilynn’s garden behind me.   She was my neighbor for 17 years and sadly died of lung cancer the day before this visit to our garden on March 16.

By March 16, we’d planted our first round of peas and spinach.   A few weeks later, we planted more peas with the help of Terry’s grand daughter Lillian as well as other cold crops including lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli and more.   I was also surprised to find that many crops that typically don’t make it through the winter, survived — cilantro, rosemary, kale, chard, parsley.

Photos from March 16:  Ana,Terry and Susan getting ready to plant peas on a very windy March afternoon, our tomato cages all lined up where we plan to plant tomatoes in late May, the garlic patch growing between planks of wood for walking.

We’re off to a good start and busily prepping all the beds for the big warm season planting in just a few short weeks.  Although the weather can be deceptively nice in May, we still must restraint ourselves from planting our precious tomatoes, peppers and warm season crops until we’re safely past May 22.   Last year, we had about 6 inches of snow around May 20!

Photos from March 31:   Free tomato seeds earned as a volunteer at DUG free seed distribution, tomato seedlings planted on March 31, two trays of 12 6 packs of tomatoes and peppers growing under lights and on heat mats.

Timeline of Chores

  • March 9:  Map the garden
  • Order or shop for seeds
  • March 12: Volunteer at Denver Urban Garden Seeds Distribution — earn free seeds
  • Visit the plots and make plans for prepping the soil
  • March 16: Plant peas and spring crops
  • Fill milk jugs with water and pack in back of car
  • March 30:  Start seedlings — tomatoes and peppers in early April
  • April 7:  Attend Rosedale Community Garden Spring Meeting, pay fees and network with fellow gardeners
  • Turn soil, pull weeds, lay down burlap on paths
  • April 20:  Visit Allegro Coffee for Earth Day Celebration — pick up burlap bags and free compost
  • April 23:  Flower garden consultation at home with Shirley at http://www.mindful-gardener.com (More later!)
  • April 25:  Transplant seedlings to larger pots
  • April 26:  Scored 6-packs of broccoli and cabbage seedlings at King Soopers for $3.49/pack
  • May 1:  Plant spring bulbs, broccoli and cabbage; plant cover crop in the pumpkin patch
  • May 2: Plant broccoli and cabbage at St. Philip Donation Garden with Jennifer

Photos from April 25:  Susan working on repotting the tomato seedlings, tomato seedlings ready to transplant, individual seedlings in peat pots.

Photos on May 2:  Newly planted broccoli and cabbage with Jen Drews at St. Philip Donation Garden.



Garden Envy

Garden Envy

In my travels, I visit gardens of all shapes and sizes and take tons of photos.  Always excited to visit my friends’ gardens, attend garden tours and visit local botanical gardens,  I just love to pick up new ideas and think about how I might apply new designs or planting combinations in my own gardens.   I am often as envious as I am inspired.  Here is a collection of some of the gardening ideas I admire:


Teri’s tomatoes were protected from early season hail under the hoops. They are so tall and healthy.



Dale’s potted tomatoes and trellised vegetables. Its a marvel what he accomplishes in a side yard.


My neighbors at Rosedale in 2014, Diane and Johanna Montague, had such a perfectly orderly spring garden. Beautiful!


Christine’s garden was already chock full of produce in late May – garlic, kale, berries, onions, greens, herbs. I loved how she used every square inch and had seedlings growing in egg cartons ready for hot season crops. Easthampton, MA



At Nate and Ashley’s 2013 wedding in New Richmond, WI, the reception was held at a local farm. The little garden next to the house was surrounded by flowers and very organic in it design.


My friend Mary’s squashes were trellised on these cool wooden structures. Hartland, WI. July 2017


Centennial Gardens, University of Wisconsin, Madison. I love the order of this planter although I am realistic enough to know that my plants won’t conform to such order.



I love the idea of a garden right outside the front door. The log Adirondack chairs, prayer flags and hollyhocks in the background all create a lovely vignette. Steamboat Springs Garden Tour, 2013.


Spring Garden with lots of space to grow up. Spinach in the foreground with tomatoes in wall of water. Ute Trails Garden, May 2017


Starting a Community Donation Garden at St. Philip’s Church

Starting a Community Donation Garden at St. Philip’s Church

IMG_8596 Nearly two months after breaking ground on the new community donation garden at St. Philip’s, I am finally taking a breath to share how this project got started.    Several years ago, the concept of starting a community garden on the expansive property of our church was conceived by Tiffany Briggs, an active church member that I knew from the Prayer Shawl Knitting group.   We discussed it several times and energy began to mount.   At the time, I was too busy with my Denver community garden as both a leader and the manager of three plots, to invest much energy in another project.    Fast forward several years, Tiffany had moved away and I was finally retired from eight years as a leader at Rosedale Garden.   With a chunk of time and psychic space now free in my life, the conversation about the garden began again.  A church member and friend on the board encouraged me to get a proposal together and apply for a grant from the church endowment committee.   She felt that the time was right, internal support was present and that with me to champion the project, it could fly.IMG_8460

Bringing over 18 years of community garden experience as well as my training as a master gardener to the table helped me to put together a coherent, clear-sighted proposal very quickly.   The thought of speadheading a new garden project that would initially provide locally grown produce to the Sheridan Food Bank was exciting and challenging.    The first hurdle was to get agreement from the property committee to work a specific 30 ft X 60 ft site in the back of the church.    After several rounds of maps, walking the property and even a presentation given by my husband who sits on the committee, the land was approved by the property committee.  The second step was to obtain funding for soil admendments, raised beds, seedlings, and all the other various items one needs to start a garden.   I submitted a proposal for $1500 in late April and received notification on May 10 that a grant of $1000 was approved.    The Care and Compassion Committee also donated $250 to the project.

IMG_8417With little time to waste but out of town from May 10-17 to attend my 30th college reunion in Massachusetts, I scheduled ground breaking for May 24.    I wrangled a handful of volunteers including my husband, children and my church supporter and her family to get started on that Sunday morning.    Dave and I opened up Home Depot at 7 am to purchase the wood for 8 raised beds and by 3 pm, he had them all built.    The unusually rainy May had softened the ground and enabled the rest of the crew to dig out the normally concrete hard sod over the course of the next two weeks.    After Xcel Energy mapped out the areas with buried electricals, we placed the raised beds over those areas and decided to plow the unaffected areas later in the season.   By May 29th, two trucks of garden mix were delivered and everyone I could recruit including my 10 and 13 year old boys helped fill in the raised beds.IMG_8400

By early June, we had eight raised beds filled and planted with seeds, purchased and donated plants.   And several weeks later, we rototilled a 12 X 15 foot patch and planted it with donated plants from Creekside Gardens and Denver Urban Gardens.    At the time of this writing, the garden is healthy and ready to burst with broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, herbs, squashes, cucumbers and more.    We’ve already donated several pounds of lettuce, squash and herbs to the Sheridan Food Pantry with much more to follow this week.   God has truly shined upon this project with good weather, few pests and generous volunteers and contributions.

I will share much more about our new donation garden and future plans in the weeks to come.