by Rachel Pound, Garden & Education Coordinator, Brigit’s Bounty Community Resources
You have probably heard the expression “if you don’t like the weather in Colorado now, just wait a few minutes.” Colorado weather is incredible and can change very rapidly. These past few weeks have been beautiful with the increase in temperature and moisture. This fluctuating weather can make it difficult to plan planting times for gardens. Here is a quick rundown of how to get vegetables growing outside in mid to late spring.
The end of April and the beginning of May are great for cold weather planting. Be sure to read last month’s article for more information on that. Then May creeps on and we get those beautiful 70+ degree days and you start to think “this is the perfect time to plant everything… hold on, oh no we have two feet of snow coming…how will I protect my garden?!” The best thing to do is wait. Some folks say to wait until after Mother’s Day, some say wait until the end of May, and some say the beginning of June. It happens very rarely, but we have had snow the last week of May in previous years.
Something that has worked for Brigit’s Bounty Community Resources in the past is planting during the last two weekends of May. You can plant in waves depending on what you are planting. Plant items that are not as fragile (e.g., broccoli, violets, certain herbs) during the second to last weekend, then plant tomatoes, peppers, squash, marigolds, and anything else the last weekend of May or beginning of June.
Tomatoes will not start to turn red until nighttime temperatures stay at roughly 45ºF or higher. Tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash do not do well in the cold; they need temperatures above freezing. If we happen to get snow, not only do they need protection from the cold but also from the actual weight of the snow itself. The plant’s delicate leaves and stems are very fragile at their beginning stages and would need more than just a sheet to protect them. Upside-down five-gallon buckets and tarps work great as plant coverings to protect from last-minute surprise snows. These methods are not foolproof, but they are our consensus from years of shared knowledge and past experiences. Hopefully, this inspires you to get out, get plants, and get those gardens going.
Rachel is the year-round Garden and Education Coordinator at Brigit’s Bounty Community Resources. She creates and facilitates all of the affordable youth programming, manages hundreds of volunteers, attends community outreach events, recruits volunteers, and manages the entire 1-acre Giving Garden. Rachel is integral to the success of the organization. Find out more about Brigit’s Bounty at https://www.brigitsbounty.org/