How Does Your Garden Grow?

Simple steps to create your own farmers’ market at home

By Julie Bielenberg and Reece Jackson

Colorado is filled with residents who gravitate toward gardening. A hobby for some, but for many, gardening is also about health and good nutrition. Growing your own fruits and vegetables that simply go from your garden to your table is certainly one way to ensure the safety of the produce your family is consuming. And based on the growing number of local gardeners, home gardens are not just a trend but a solid lifestyle shift. Even multiple Front Range restaurants have established their own gardens with the intent of offering their customers the freshest seasonal flavors possible.

Whether you’re a full-scale expert or a complete novice, you can easily grow your own crops right at home. And the idea that a large space is required to grow a garden is long-gone—gardens are cropping up in all styles, sizes and locations, from back patio raised planter beds and urban garden walls to elaborate backyard mini farms. Whether growing your own produce or flower gardening for an aesthetically pleasing and fragrant outdoor space, you can nurture your green thumb passion regardless of your living environment. Grab your gardening gloves and dig in!

Photo courtesy of Sanddebeautheil

GREEN GARDENER

When starting out, it’s easy to get excited about the prospect of having your own expansive garden that produces a bountiful crop all summer long. But it’s wise for newbie gardeners to think on a smaller scale. A raised garden bed is a simple, effective and labor-reducing way to grow your own veggies and herbs. Even smaller, moveable container gardens are a great option. In addition to working well in outdoor spaces, like a back patio area, with the use of a little plastic wrap and clever gardening stakes you could be growing leafy greens and fresh herbs in the middle of winter in a sunny spot of your home. Plus, containers can be easily transitioned throughout the seasons from inside to outside.

Photo courtesy of Amirphoto

PLAY IN THE DIRT

According to the American Gardening Association, 98 percent of kids who grow their own vegetables will actually eat them. Imagine… children who actually want to eat their tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and peas! Encouraging your kids to get outdoors and into the garden is a wonderful way to instill environmental stewardship in children and promotes long-lasting nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Gardening is even catching on in schools all across the country. Here in Colorado alone, many school districts are now participating in Colorado Farm to School initiatives, building their own gardens and using them as an educational opportunity, as well as for ingredients for meals in the school cafeteria. To learn more about the state’s school gardening initiatives, visit coloradofarmtoschool.org

Getting your children involved in gardening at home is a wonderful way to help them learn about the benefits of fresh food, plus it’s a fun activity to do together. Pick up some kid-sized gardening tools, gloves and boots (most gardening centers sell them), take them over to the seed aisle and let them help select the veggies, herbs and flowers they’d like to grow. Kids will be fascinated to watch as their seedlings begin to sprout and evolve into plants. At harvest time, take stock of how many pounds of each vegetable your family has grown, then visit your grocery store’s produce aisle and check out the prices of those same items. This little activity will teach your kids about value and help instill pride in their own hard work.

Photo courtesy of Amirphoto

YEAR ROUND GARDENING

The idea of a fruit-producing tree in the depths of a Denver winter makes any gray day intrinsically summer. We all know we are blessed to live in one of the sunniest cities in the nation. Take Mother Nature’s bounty of sunshine and turn it into your year-round produce party. Greenhouses and small indoor garden conservatories were often a sign of wealth and status in America for generations. Now, with the plethora of greenhouse products, kits and high tech tools, you too, can join the ranks of this garden elite. From simple to sophisticated, a winter producing garden isn’t that far off. Growing Spaces, located in Pagosa Springs, produces the Growing Dome—a state-of-the-art greenhouse requiring little or no heating as it harnesses the power of the sun. The dome shape is extremely strong and wind-resistant allowing year-round growing even in higher elevations. growingspaces.com

Photo courtesy of Denver Dirty Girls

IN A TIGHT SPOT

Who needs a yard when you can toil in the soil on your balcony? If you’re a downtown Denverite with limited space, you have a friend in the urban gardening business. Urban Roots specializes in helping city dwellers with their horticulture needs for small spaces, balcony or rooftop gardens and container gardening. urbanrootsdenver.com

Another great local resource for container gardening, Denver Dirty Girls, can help you with a container garden design and maintenance. These gals are full of helpful advice and ideas for gardening in the city. denverdirtygirls.com

Photo courtesy of LA Urban Farms

GROWING UP

Also consider going vertical with your veggies with an urban garden wall. LA Urban Farms produces a product called the Tower Garden. Using aeroponic technology for vertical growing, this innovative product is terrific for growing tomatoes, lettuces, strawberries, cucumbers and loads of other fruits and vegetables in tight spaces. laurbanfarms.com

Photo courtesy of Bos

HOTTEST GARDEN ACCESSORY OF 2015:

How many times have you been in the garden and just wanted to hose off, but were afraid of the ice cold water? The Bos Surfboard Shower, custom made in Colorado by Wilco Bos, provides an answer to this dilemma with a brilliant design that transforms a surfboard into a hot and cold shower. Who’s ready for a beach party in the conservatory? bossurf.com