Tending a family garden  

Gardening projects at home can be a great stress reliver, while also providing fresh produce for homecooked meals or canning. With the shorter growing season in Southwest Colorado, one option is to buy healthy plants at a local nursery to jump start your summer garden.
Herbs and microgreens are ideal if you are growing a small garden inside your home, or on a balcony. Lettuce, spinach and microgreens will also grow quickly from seed packets. Yellow squash, cucumbers and zucchini are also favored among outdoor gardeners.
Cherry tomatoes, and other smaller varieties such as Early Girl tomatoes, will bear fruit sooner in cool climates. Hoop houses, cold frames and enclosed green house structures will also extend your growing season in the spring and fall.
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

With more time on our hands and the summer season coming on fast, this is the perfect time to start a garden, or till an old one. Gardens can be small or large, and depending on what size of garden project you are willing to take on will dictate the time and effort needed for success. 

Most of us have been self-isolating at our homes during the coronavirus pandemic, even as the weather gets warmer and outdoor activity becomes more inviting. Gardening is a passion and way of life for some, but for others it could be a new adventure to share with your family and help pass the time 

Herb gardens can be achieved using stand-alone planters, on a balcony or window sill. Larger vegetable gardens or greenhouse structures offer a wide variety of options, year after year. Tomatoes are easily grown in container style gardens as well. If gardening interests you, there are few limitations.  

This is a time-honored tradition in many families, and can be used as an activity ideal for younger family members, a way to share responsibility and teach new skills. My grandparents were dedicated gardeners, encouraging us help water the squash and pepper plants each evening, picking cherry tomatoes and raspberries from the vine in late summer. When it came time to weed the garden beds, we were often rewarded with spending money. That work ethic was instilled in us from an early age.  

Each summer I look forward to being in my garden as a way to unwind, and clear my head. It also provides some of that physical exercise that is missing from our day to day routine. The end result is also extremely satisfying, when the harvest is ready to eat 

 The Four Corners region, especially the Pine River Valley, offers a nice growing season with lots of sunshine, available water and long summer days. Depending on where you live you might have to bring in good soil, or build a raised garden bed. While some vegetables such as carrots and microgreens are grown from seed packs, other plants like tomatoes, herbs and most peppers can be purchased at your local nursery or greenhouse — giving your garden a head start, while providing some immediate satisfaction.  

 Grow things that you enjoy eating, the sense of satisfaction will be two-fold. Strawberry plants and raspberries will return each spring, as will chives and asparagus. Lettuce and other leafy things grow quickly and can be harvested throughout the summer. Fresh basil is a delight. The small investment of time and money can provide so much more than just vegetables — gardening is an excellent way to connect with the land and find a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.  



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