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May 13, 2016

Growing Your Own Food

Spring is in the air! Soon our days will be longer giving us much more time to enjoy outdoor activities after work. One of the healthiest hobbies you can develop is growing your own food. If you do not have a yard available for gardening do a little research on how to become involved in your community garden. In the Vail Valley, community gardens can be found in West Vail, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Avon and Eagle. Community gardens are a great way to meet people in your town and also a great way for beginners to get involved in the gardening process.

The first step to take is figuring out which zone you are in, Vail Valley is zone 4, but the growing season in West Vail and the growing season in Eagle are still different by a few weeks. It is important to pay attention to the weather before planting. Another important factor to think about before planting is the slope of where you will be planting. Some North facing slopes do not receive any sunlight, be sure the land you have picked will be suitable for growing. Now you have your perfect plot, but before you plant, do not forget about the importance of healthy soil. Most mountainous soil is very alkaline, too alkaline for plants to grow. Adding organic materials to your soil will adjust the PH level of the soil. The best way to do this is by starting your own compost, Lori Russell has a fantastic article about how to start your own compost here.

In our Colorado climate, compost can take 6 months to a year to grow, since bacteria only forms in heat. Start your compost now, but you may want to go to your local garden center to purchase organic compost to get you started. You've got the space and the soil, now let's get started on the seeds! With a relatively short growing period, it is best to choose seeds with the shortest "days-to-maturity." Leafy greens and root vegetables are the best choice for high altitude gardens. Since the growing season is not very long in the valley, a good idea is to begin growing your plants in a pot at home if you have indoor space with lots of sunlight, then transplanting them when the time is appropriate, usually Memorial Day weekend.

With mountains, come animals, planting lavender in your garden will not only bring a beautiful smell to your garden but it will keep deer away. Lavender oil will work too and chili oil. Many places offer gardening classes, CMC in Edwards will be hosting a series of Gardening at Altitude classes towards the end of May.

Article by Danielle Fernandez