Beginner Gardener

sklubrittMarch 4, 2011

My husband and I just bought a house with as big enough backyard to plant a vegetable garden. I'm a big home cook and can't wait to start using my own produce. However, I have no idea where to begin and the internet does not give me much assistance. What kinds of vegetables thrive the best in this cold, short growing climate? What vegetables do you recommend me planting as a beginner? When should I start? I've read online about starting warmer weather plans inside so I have seedlings to plant after the last frost. Should I or just wait until the last frost for sure?

Thanks for your help!


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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Kelsey,

Welcome to RMG!

Yes, you can, and should start some things inside---probably this month sometime, depending on what you're planning to start. You're also early enough to "winter sow" some things, again, depending on what you're planning to start.

Some questions first!

Where are you in Wyoming, and do you know what your zone is? Does your yard have an established garden area, or are you going to need to be turning over a new area and doing some amending of the soil? If you had your druthers, which veggies would you like to grow? Will the garden area have any protection from your Wyoming Winds? Have you grown veggies before, and you're just trying it in a new environment this time, or are you starting from scratch!

There are lots of people around here with good, real Rocky Mountain growing experience to help you as you get started!

Depending on where you are up there, brace yourself for tomorrow's weather,

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 1:19AM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Make a sketch of your garden area roughly to scale noting North South East West. Get approximate measurements of length and width and think about where pathways might be located. Include things like trees, bushes, structures, fences or any significant slopes.

Once that is complete then you can start organizing what plants to put where.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 11:52AM
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windwhipped(Z4 WY)

Hi Kelsey,

Nice to see another voice from WY. Please do let us know where you are, it really does make a big difference. I'm in Casper and bought my first house here in 2003, so I have been where you are trying to figure it all out.

By the way, in my yard I have grown tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, Japanese eggplant, peas, cukes, lettuce, paprika peppers, pumpkins (small ones) and various herbs. You can grow a lot here if you are careful about choosing varieties. And, yes, you do want to start most of them inside pretty soon now.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Radishes are easy and can be direct seeded. Peas are pretty easy too. Lettuce does pretty good.

I have little experience with starting tomatoes from seed, but it's best to have a large plant that was started indoors. Peppers are also easy if you buy them started from a greenhouse.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 11:54PM
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Get a book. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. It will save you from making a lot of errors and is a very easy read. It really teaches a lot to the home gardener. I've adopted a lot of his methods with a twist of my own.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 9:15PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

So, sklubritt, do we have an update? What did you brave trying, and how goes the battle? Hopefully you have some things coming in and are harvesting something?
Here's hoping it's all going well!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 11:06PM
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My husband and I have summered in Wyo. for 12 years. I was fortunate to start out with an established yard and grass.
This year I'm not liking the look of my grass. It has failed to green up in its usual fashion and appears to be struggling. What I do regularly, is put on compost in late Sept. In June when we arrive I put on Scotts weed and feed and try and intimidate the dandilions. With the porus ground I water reg. and deep. I have never re-seeded. I had it mowed mid June, but no other care until we arrived the end of June.(We usually get her the first part of June.) I'm not sure what type of grass I have. It looks like maybe bluegrass. It has a very thick root system.
Any suggestions as to what I should do to prepare for next summer and what my problem might be?
By the way, for sklubritt, I've had good luck with baby spinich in a large pot. I cover it with a cardboard box at night if I think we might get a freeze.
Thank you for any help.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 6:47PM
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I wish I had done this with all my beds when I started, so I recommend it to you: raised beds made of cinderblock, filled with lasagna method aka sheet composting. It's the easiest way I have found.

The beds require no construction; you just pile up 2 layers of cinderblocks. 3 across is a great width, and you can make them as long as you want. You can sit down on your nice cinderblock wall to work your bed. As a bonus, you can plant some marigolds or nasturtiums (or garlic or shallots or herbs) in a few of the holes. Here's a good explanation:

If you pile organic material and dirt inside in the fall, then by spring you have a wonderful soil that you never dig. That's right, NEVER DIG. Ever.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 6:19PM
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