Our ancestors grew their own food, and we can too whether we have multiple acres or just a few feet. Small farms, at-home gardens and indoor garden kits come in all sizes and complexities, and a common mantra, especially for new growers, is to start with things you like to eat and enjoy cooking the most.
Local Colorado farms say the best late spring/early summer plants and seeds for new gardeners are sweet peas (ornamental, not edible), lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, radish, arugula, kale and onions. Radishes are the easiest and quickest growing; they mature in about 25 days.
The Smokebrush Biodynamic Farm is located on the grounds of the historic Red Crags Arts & Agriculture House in Manitou Springs. The farm is a Demeter Certified biodynamic farm and tends to the earth in a way that honors its rhythms, harmonies and cycles. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops and soil as a single system, an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems, as well as its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties.
Farm manager Dylan Roberts explains a bit about biodynamic farming: “This is a method of farming that takes its inspiration from nature. The bounty never serves just one purpose and all the animals, including the goats and chickens, might be providing eggs and milk, as well as their droppings and discarded bedding to create an on-going compost pit. This is either applied directly to our vegetables beds or used for potting soil to start news plants in the garden.”
Smokebrush Farm hosts seminars and hands-on events from May through October, which includes seed saving, with the seeds (tomato and squash) harvested from their vegetables, elderberry syrup making and even a perennial favorite, pumpkin pie making with the elderberries and pumpkins harvested from the property.
“Gardening is the best therapy in the world, better than a therapist,” says Richard Ortega, co-owner of Nick’s Garden Center and Farm Market in Aurora. It’s all about late spring at Nick’s, which has a huge selection of seeds, plants and garden products to get your veggie garden growing. Once summer shines the garden center opens their Nick’s Farm Market, offering fresh, Colorado-grown produce everyday through October.
With five locations in Colorado including Grand Junction, Way to Grow helps their customers learn to grow the best hydroponic and greenhouse plants possible. A great way to expand your tomato plants is by cloning a particular favorite by razor cutting one of its branches at 45-degree angle. Then, according to their blog: “Dip the stem in filtered water or a cloning solution and place in the soil or a cloner. If harvesting numerous cuttings at once, makes sure to put their stems in some water to keep them hydrated until you are ready to move forward.” Those interested can learn more on their website.
Acme Hydroponics is located in Broomfield and offers a variety of indoor and hydroponic gardening supplies including grow lights, nutrients and grow mediums, along with the seeds to grow on your own at home. In a short time, all of us indoor gardeners will be able to grow natural/organic produce and herbs, with an added plus of knowing where our vegetables are grown.
There is nothing wrong with giving Mother Nature a helping hand, and perhaps she respects both the inside gardeners who can get a jump start on the way-too-short Colorado summers, as well as the backyard go-getters!
Photos by Sofia Hernandez Crade.
Wendy Wilkinson has been a writer and publicist in the celebrity/ lifestyle worlds for more than twenty-five years. Her work has been published in many national and regional publications including the Los Angeles Times, Colorado Living Well, Cowboys & Indians, and Fit and Fit Yoga. As an author she co-wrote Parents at Last, Celebrating Adoption and the New Pathways to Parenthood, People We Know, Horses They Love, with cover Robert Redford, and Morgan Freeman & Friends, Caribbean Cooking for a Cause.