Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Colorado May Weather

4:20 pm: It has just begun to rain and it's about 46 degrees.   The forecast the next few days/nights is for rainy days in the mid-to-high 50's (not so bad), but 40-ish each night (not so good).  The past few days have been off-and-on cold with cold nights.  We've had some nice rain, so things are greening up.  It's just frustrating not knowing when to plant or what's ok to plant.

I guess I'm getting more exposure to Colorado unpredictable weather.  I know that May 15 is the "average" last frost date, meaning there's a good chance it will still be cold and/or frost after that date, but the last two years have been warmer and I've been too optimistic.  Next year I will start things later and not plan on being able to plant by May 15, as I have the past two years.

I know that tomatoes and peppers need warm weather, and have heard not to plant them until it is consistently 50 overnight.  However, I've had them out hardening off all week inside the cold frame, even the nights that were 30.  It was just too difficult to carry them in and out each night & morning.  Yesterday I went ahead and planted the tomatoes and today the peppers.  I'm keeping the peppers covered, at least overnight, until it warms up--the cold frame fits nicely on top of the peppers and should keep them well protected.  Some of the tomatoes have hoops over them and are ready to cover with frost cloth as need arises. So far, I'm leaving the tomatoes uncovered during the day.  Not sure what to do with them overnight.

I've read that there is really no advantage to getting the tomatoes out too early--that bigger tomatoes grown inside and planted out early aren't ready to harvest any earlier than those done a little later and planted when warmer.  Apparently warmth is the key, and it's possible that tomatoes planted in >40 degree weather won't produce as much fruit.  We shall see.  At any rate, next year I plan to start them later, and won't plan to plant them out as early.  If there's really no advantage, why bother?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


There is progress being made, and we're in the final countdown in the last two weeks until "last frost".  I've sown seeds for beets, rutabagas, peas and planted my seed potatoes.   I started my corn seeds indoors, as I did last year.  It worked well last year starting them in the mini blocks, so I'm doing it again.  So far the long-range forecast looks pretty good, warming up and fewer freezing temps at night.  I've also planted more leeks and scallions, and eaten some delicious asparagus.Last night it was Asparagus-Smoked Salmon Crepes, which turned out delicious.  

I've begun to "harden off" the bee balm and alpine strawberries for planting soon--I think they can handle some colder temps, but I'll watch the weather more closely before I plant. I'll be using the cold frame, moved to an empty bed, for my area to harden things off.  It'll be a walk to get the heavy trays there, but I think helpful--after a few days I should be able to leave things there overnight.

We're getting the beds ready for planting.  This year I'm trying out Steve Solomon's homemade "Complete Organic Fertilizer" (COF) to see how well it aids garden growth.  I'm leveling out the beds, mixing in the manure that was on the top of each bed over the winter, and adding the COF.  Some of the raised beds still are not framed, due to lack of materials, and difficult to keep them enclosed in the area I want them without some of the soil falling into the pathways.  I'll just have to make do and make the best of it.

Tim has leveled out the area where we plan to put the greenhouse and it's ready for concrete, which we hope to get this weekend.  It'll be bigger than I had imagined!  It'll be nice, particularly in the spring, for getting the seedlings going, and I'll be able to do that process without all the electricity we're using for the light bench.  We'll also put down a concrete floor for the duck house, so we can wash it off for cleaning.

Tim is also working hard to fix our upstairs porch, which needed new posts for supports.  The old ones had warped and were pulling the porch and its roof away from the house--not good.  He's working hard, and all these projects on top of his "real job".