By Meghan Godby
In the early days of spring, garden stores are bustling with activity. Shoppers eagerly scoop up bags of potting soil, seed packets (candy cane beets, anyone?) and fancy tools. Their hard work is bound to pay off – as they tend to their potted flowers or rows of seedlings, a spring garden promises bountiful harvests and colorful blooms all summer long.
Given the record heat we’ve been having lately, it’s hard to imagine that fall is right around the corner. But once temperatures start to drop and flowers begin to wilt, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop gardening. In fact, there are many varieties you can plant now, while the weather is still mild and the first frost has yet to creep in on us.
Because there is no harsh, sweltering heat, many plants root better in the cooler fall soil. Let’s start with vegetables. This time of year, hardier crops like lettuce, spinach, peas and radishes are your best bet. They thrive in cooler temperatures and can bring food to your table in just a few short weeks. Since the weather is warmer, you can direct sow (no need to fuss with seedlings indoors) and the soil is already primed for planting after months of summer sunshine.
No time to sow seeds, but still eager for some fall color? Consider favorites like Garden Mums. These colorful plants are easy to come by and will bring pops of red, white, yellow and orange to your yard or garden. If you have patience, it’s also a great time to plant bulbs (think daffodils, tulips) that will grace you with color come springtime.
Trees and shrubs also take well to cooler soil and can often be purchased at a discount this time of year. This includes fruiting plants like raspberries, blueberries and grapes. Although you won’t be able to harvest come wintertime, you’ll be grateful for your hard work once springtime rolls around.
Inspired? You can always stop by a home improvement store or even a grocery store for some quick buys. But why not support a few local mom and pop shops? Young’s Market and Garden Center (9400 W. 44th Ave.), Abner’s Garden Center (12280 W. 44th Ave.), Al’s Pine Garden (6815 W. 4th Ave.) and Southwest Gardens (4114 N. Harlan St.) have been around for decades and are staffed with knowledgeable neighbors that can help you make the best selection.
So don’t pack up your gardening supplies just yet! Whether you’re new at the hobby or a seasoned pro, you still have plenty of time to get your hands dirty. If you’re interested in learning more about what grows best here, head over to almanac.com and search for Zone 5b – that’s the hardiness zone for most of the Denver metro area.