Potatoes

Cut seed potatoes so that each piece has 2-3 eyes. Allow to air dry 4-5 days before planting. They can be started indoors in a container, placing potato just below soil level. The container and garden soil should be loose and drain easily. Transplant outdoors when all chances of frost have past. Or plant directly in the garden 2-4” deep, cover with leaves or mulch 2-3 weeks before last frost date. Keep the soil uniformly moist but not soggy- don’t allow the plants to dry out. After the plants bloom (July or August) cut back somewhat on the water. The plants will begin to decline. Check roots to see how big the tubers are. Harvest when they are desirable size or allow them to hold in the ground. Harvest all before the ground freezes!

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Asparagus

Perennial roots are available commercially as 2 year olds. Soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. The crown of the root needs to be planted 12-18” below the soil level. Dig a trench 18” deep and spread the long roots sideways to nestle the crown low enough. Cover the crown with 3” of soil and water in. After a week or so a sprout will appear. Allow it to grow 8-9” and cover ½ way. One the sprout has cleared the soil level by several inches fill in the rest of the trench. They prefer some moisture but not a lot. Once they are established they require little care. You can begin harvest after 2 years.

Variety

Martha Washington – 3 year old plants

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Seed Definitions

Heirloom: Historically harvested seeds (over decades) that produce roughly identical plants from generation to generation.
Open Pollinated: Seeds are produced by wind or self-pollinated and produce roughly identical plants from generation to generation.
Hybrid: Seeds generated from 2 parent strains targeting specific characteristics; heavy production, disease resistance, hardiness, etc.
GMO: Genetically modified Organism. Genetic engineering inserts genes into another unrelated organism to bring a desired outcome, eg; bacteria introduced into corn to offset the damage of earwigs on the ears of corn.
Organic seed: Any seed produced meeting the USDA standards for Organic growing; does not include GMO’s.

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Onions (Allium)

Any of the alliums can be sown in the garden March/April and can be planted provided the plants are hardened off. They like a loose, moist (not wet) well-drained soil.
Sets: Small bulbs are sold bagged and usually develop into stewing type onions. Plant with the pointed side up, just under the soil line.
Scallions/Bunching Onions/Green Onions: Easily seeded in the garden early spring or started indoors late winter. The whole plant is harvested and used. The tops can be used much like chives. The small root bulb is mild in flavor. Sow in a shallow trench, use a seed tape or plant young seedlings. Plant with the white bulb just slightly below the soil line.

Slicing Onions: Transplants are usually young onion plants sold bundled or in soil. Starting them indoors early guarantees a larger onion earlier in the growing season. Plant so the white (yellow or red) roots are concealed by dirt. The may be flimsy at the start but will firm up in days. As they mature the top foliage yellow and shrinks. They can be harvested and stored by hanging them (including the tops) or clean up the bulbs and store in a refrigerator.

Leeks: Started by seed indoors late winter. They don’t develop a bulb like onions, rather develop a thick stalk used for soups, egg dishes or general flavoring. Plant by seed or young seedlings. Harvest when the stalk is large enough for slicing.

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Corn

One of the easiest crops to grow- corn is a grass type plant. It likes it sunny with supplemental nitrogen. “Knee high by the 4th of July” is the adage that determines if you’ll be harvesting or not! Seeds can be soaked overnight before planting to help break the seed coat. Sow just below the soil line. Overall, the crop excels with a fertilizer or soil nutrient high in Nitrogen.

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Peas

One of the first crops we get to seed in the ground early spring! Pre-soaking the seeds overnight (or several nights) helps the seed take up water and break the seed coat. From years of experience we find this ensures 70-80% success in germination. Some use an inoculant to try to stimulate better germination, but its success varies. Take into consideration that they don’t like the heat, so choose a site where the temperature won’t spike early in the summer. Peas like rich soil with consistent moisture. Be careful early in the season to not overwater the young plants! When the heat hits, they slow in production. Sowing again in mid-July can produce a healthy fall crop.

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Garlic

Garlic is a bulb that usually is planted late summer/early fall and harvested the following summer or fall depending on the variety. Ideally when they are planted they will have time to root in sufficiently to endure the winter and late enough in the season to avoid tall green shoots that could freeze. They can be planted early spring and harvested late fall- but may not reach their full potential. Garlic is grown all around the world! Hardneck varieties are hardier and best for this region.
Soil should be rich in organic matter but should drain easily (especially if there’s consistent moisture during the winter). During the summer a light mulch layer of leaves or clean grass clippings on the soil can prevent the soil from moisture extremes. The bulb or cloves need to be broken into individual segments. The tip of the clove goes just slightly under the soil level, green sprout (or pointed side) up.

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Attracting Beneficial Insects

Sunset Greenhouse:  1023 Sunset Road * 80909    (719) 634-6232

PLANTING FOR THE GOOD GUYS!!

In a world laden with synthetic and even organic pesticides, wouldn’t it be nice to return to a harmony with the way things are supposed to be, where the good bugs eat the bad bugs? If we provide the right plants, they will come…

Alyssum: flowers attract hoverflies whose larva devour aphids; draws bees to pollinate early blooming fruit trees
Borage: deters tomato hornworms and cabbage worms; one of the best bee and wasp attracting plants.
Carrots: blooms attract hoverflies and predatory wasps
Calendula: attracts bees and hoverflies
Catnip/Catmint: deters flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants and weevils.
Chamomile, German: host to hoverflies and wasps.
Centaurea: attracts bees, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic wasps.
Chives: attract hoverflies, bees and parasitic mini-wasps; keep aphids away from tomatoes,
Chervil: keeps aphids off lettuce
Cilantro: repels harmful insects such as aphids, spider mites and potato beetle. A tea from this can be used as a spray for spider mites
Cosmos: attracts lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic wasps
Dill: flower umbel attracts ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps but also the tomato horn worm so it would be wise to plant it somewhere away from your tomato plants.
Fennel: foliage and flowers attract as ladybugs, syrphid flies, tachninid flies, beneficial parasitoid wasps and hoverflies. It can retard the growth of some nearby plants.
Garlic: systemic in action as it is taken up by the plants through their pores and when garlic tea is used as a soil drench it is also taken up by the plant roots. It has value in offending codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly
Golden Rod: one of the best; attracts assassin bugs, big-eyed bugs, ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, praying mantis and parasitic wasps.
Lavender: repels fleas and moths. Prolific flowering lavender nourishes many nectar feeding and beneficial insects. Lavenders can protect nearby plants from insects such as whitefly, and lavender planted under and near fruit trees can deter codling moth.
Marigold: has roots that exude a substance which spreads in their immediate vicinity killing harmful nematodes.
Mint: the menthol content in mints that acts as an insect repellant and tiny flowers attract Braconid and Icheumonid wasps, and Tachnid and Syrid flies; bees and other good guys love it; deters white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, aphids. Earthworms are quite attracted to mint plantings, and it may deter ground squirrels and mice from tunneling in the area.
Morning Glory: attracts syrphid flies and ladybugs
Nasturtium: deter aphids, squash bugs, and striped pumpkin beetles.
Oregano: plant near broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower to repel cabbage butterfly and near cucumbers to repel cucumber beetle.
Parsley: flowers attract parasitic wasps and hoverflies.
Thyme: deters cabbage worms.
Yarrow: attracts predatory wasps and ladybugs; good accelerant to the compost pile.

 

Botanically speaking these plants draw in beneficial insects based on their assets to support the adults and/or the larva:

Plants that attract Lacewings:
Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow
Anethum graveolens Dill
Angelica gigas Angelica
Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite
Atriplex canescens Four-wing saltbush
Callirhoe involucrata Purple poppy mallow
Carum Carvi Caraway Coriandrum sativum Coriander
Cosmos bipinnatus Cosmos white sensation
Daucus Carota Queen Anne’s lace
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel
Helianthus maximilianii Prairie sunflower
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion

Plants that attract Hoverflies:
Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow
Achillea millefolium Common yarrow
Ajuga reptans Carpet bugleweed
Alyssum saxatilis Basket of Gold
Anethum graveolens Dill
Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite
Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed
Atriplex canescens Four-wing saltbush
Coriandrum sativum Coriander
Daucus Carota Queen Anne’s lace
Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat Foeniculum vulgare Fennel
Helianthus maximilianii Prairie sunflower
Penstemon strictus Rocky Mt. penstemon
Potentilla recta ‘warrenii’ Sulfur cinquefoil
Potentilla villosa Alpine cinquefoil
Tagetes tenuifolia Marigold – lemon gem
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion
Veronica spicata Spike speedwell
Vicia villosa Hairy vetch
Plants that attract Ladybugs:
Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow
Achillea millefolium Common yarrow
Ajuga reptans Carpet bugleweed
Alyssum saxatilis Basket of Gold
Anethum graveolens Dill
Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite
Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed
Atriplex canescens Four-wing saltbush
Coriandrum sativum Coriander
Daucus Carota Queen Anne’s lace
Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel
Helianthus maximilianii Prairie sunflower
Penstemon strictus Rocky Mt. penstemon
Potentilla recta ‘warrenii’ Sulfur cinquefoil
Potentilla villosa Alpine cinquefoil
Tagetes tenuifolia Marigold – lemon gem
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion
Veronica spicata Spike speedwell
Vicia villosa Hairy vetch

Plants that attract Parasitic Mini-Wasps:
Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow
Achillea millefolium Common yarrow
Allium tanguticum Lavender globe lily
Anethum graveolens Dill
Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite
Astrantia major Masterwort
Callirhoe involucrata Purple poppy mallow
Carum Carvi Caraway
Coriandrum sativum Coriander
Cosmos bipinnatus Cosmos white sensation
Daucus Carota Queen Anne’s lace
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel
Limonium latifolium Statice
Linaria vulgaris Butter and eggs
Lobelia erinus Edging lobelia
Lobularia maritima Sweet alyssum – white
Melissa officinalis Lemon balm
Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal
Petroselinum crispum Parsley
Potentilla recta ‘warrenii’ Sulfur cinquefoil
Potentilla villosa Alpine cinquefoil
Sedum kamtschaticum Orange stonecrop
Tagetes tenuifolia Marigold – lemon gem
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy
Thymus serpylum coccineus Crimson thyme
Zinnia elegans Zinnia – liliput

Plants that attract Tachinid Flies:
Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite
Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat
Melissa officinalis Lemon balm
Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal
Petroselinum crispum Parsley
Phacelia tanacetifolia Phacelia
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy
Thymus serpyllum coccineus Crimson thyme

Plants that attract Minute Pirate Bugs, Damsel Bugs and Big Eyed Bugs:
Caraway Carum Carvi
Cosmos – white sensation Cosmos bipinnatus
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare
Alfalfa Medicago sativa
Spearmint Mentha spicata
Peter Pan goldenrod Solidago virgaurea
Marigold – lemon gem Tagetes tenuifolia

Author Jen Pelto Category How-Tos

Containers and Hanging Baskets

Ever see a breath taking combination and think- I want my stuff to look like that?  Easy!  When in doubt- copy what others do!  It’s not rocket science- just a little “know how”. A quip to fall back on is “thrillers, fillers and spillers”. In a nut shell that means: “POW” with a few really pretty bloomers, a few falling over the side and a supporting cast of complimentary foliage.

For example, in a hanging basket we use:
Thriller= a Geranium or Osteospermum for Sun
or Begonia/New Guinea Impatiens for shade
Fillers= Coleus, Grasses or Ferns for shade
Spillers= Calibrachoa, Petunias, Sweet Potato Vine or Vinca Vine

Big Pots:   Go Big!  Calla Lily, Big Easy Geranium, Marguerite Daisies, upright Salvias or Pennisetum grasses.

Shade Pots:   Use different types of foliage…there’s no dead heading and they are calmer to look at! Or embrace the Begonias, Fuschia, Impatiens and Torenia. (There’s much more to choose from see selections in our Annuals section)

More tips:

  • Use the color wheel to draw on striking contrasting colors:  yellow/ blue/ red or purple/orange/chartreuse.
    Or go monochromatic (use one color in varying shades).
  • Pot height should dictate the corresponding plant height.
  • Don’t use vines if they will get walked on!
  • Use packing peanuts or perlite to fill the bottom of the really big pots!  Use newspaper to stop the soil from falling through.
  • Pick the colors you love and you’ll always enjoy looking at them!

We create hundreds of hanging baskets and containers each season.  Come visit us in early May for the best selection.  Want us to fill your existing container or pot up a specific combo?  No problem… just tell us your sun exposure and desired color scheme and we’ll do the rest.     

Seed Selection For Our Climate

Our region has a wide diversity of growing climates and micro niches. Most long-timers go with short season crops, foregoing the big tomatoes and watermelons finding those at the Farmer’s Markets!  At first, experience success with the short season crops before moving onto the bigger challenges. On the seed packet it will give “Days to Harvest”. In Colorado Springs, estimate June 1 as day one. Our first killing frost is approximately Oct 1. So let’s say 120 good growing days without hail or rogue frosts. Crop time needs to fit in there or add protection at the beginning or end of the season. If it’s short harvest times, plant succession rows to keep the harvest coming!

Author Administrator Category How-Tos