Growing Now

Rooted in Hope and Growing in Love: Colorado Gardening Is THE BEST!

I am honored that Beth Billstrom at More Than Oregano invited me to be a part of her Growing Now 2015 Garden Tour. I am also thrilled because those of you who regularly read my Facebook page, Instagram feed, twitter feed and blog are going to see some other amazing gardens. But before you hop over there, keep reading. I can’t wait to show you what we’ve done this year.

Beth and I became acquainted on Twitter where gardeners love to meet up on Mondays during #gardenchat. I have learned so much from the gardeners who participate. Beth is an avid gardener, doing so like me, on a small urban/suburban lot.  The Growing Now tour over on her blog is very informative. I am struck by how creative these gardeners are with the space that they are given.

Gardeners do need to be creative. I’ve gardened on small patios and lofty decks. This requires creativity. But this year, my garden has required more work and more creativity than what is typically normal.

When we first purchased our home, the backyard was a bit of a mess. On a limited budget, we have slowly (over 17 years) turned our backyard into a nice place to be.

But, there was one area that we had yet to transform, a place that had a lot of sun. But was it ugly! A squared off area of rock, weeds and hard clay soil that is typical for Colorado. Yuck. But it had lots of sun and because of that I’ve had my eye on this spot for YEARS! I’d love to show you what we have done.

In January 2015 we drew up the plans and built the first garden box to see if I’d like its height. Knowing I’d age in this garden, we settled on higher beds so I could work in them more easily. We also decided to use a sustainable wood product for the beds.

On the warmer days in February, we began to add more boxes. We layered the bottom of each box with tree limbs we had just removed from our property. We borrowed this idea from a method of raised bed gardening called huglekultur. On top of the wood we placed in the leaves we had raked from the past fall.

End of April

By the end of April we had finished the boxes. We decided to finish filling them with a mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat or coir. I highly recommend this mixture. The pictures below will tell you why. Here you can see we are adding the  white irrigation lines. That was creative and hard work! With all the rain this year, we’ve hardly had to use irrigation.


By June 6, the decking was finished and it was all planted out. My husband did all the structural work, I did the seed starting and transplanting. This area is an outdoor lab and I can’t wait to write more posts on my blog to tell you what I’m learning about gardening here in Colorado. We make a good team.

June 6

And just two weeks later on June 15 it looked like this.  We couldn’t believe the rapid rate of growth. The vegetable garden I have on the other side of the yard has never grown like this. Sun and good soil make a BIG difference. I highly recommend raised beds for Colorado gardeners.

June 15

And then, by the middle of July, we had a jungle. I planted and spaced this garden similarly to how I plant and space the vegetable garden on the other side of my yard where the dirt is not as rich and the sun doesn’t stay as long. Clearly, sun and soil make a difference! I’ll have to rethink how I space plants in these boxes next year!

Here is my husband checking to see if any tomatoes have turned red. He is eager to use them in his cooking.

Middle of July

I love this space. I love my whole back yard. Every inch is a place where rooted hope grows. I love using my garden to teach others about gardening. I’ve learned a lot about hope in the whole of my life as I grow (and lose) plants.  I’m glad you came by my blog today.  And thanks to Beth for adding me to her tour.  I’ll leave you with some more captioned pictures so that you can take a peek at what else is going on here in this place I love.

Entering into my yard from the top deck. The new garden is on the other side of the yard.

This is the garden I added when we first moved here in 1988.


The patty pan and piracicaba broccoli won’t quit!

Echinacea makes a garden in July pop!

Arugula flowers are beautiful and tasty!

I can almost taste the butternut squash soup. Be sure to find the recipe on my blog.

I’m a huge fan of calendula. I have it growing all over my garden to ward of pests. It works! And it makes one beautiful bouquet!

I’ve never had success at growing cauliflower until this year.

What is it about the color red?

The color green and purple go well together.

Oh the color blue.

Growing a garden helps me live in a way that I do not have to grow weary or lose heart. Thanks for stopping by.

Here is the link to More Than Oregano where you can find the Growing Now Garden Tour 2015. You MUST go see!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Terry Davis

    Laura I love your spaces! I look so forward to your post’s here because my own hope is to become as experienced as you have become.
    Each year here always brings a different challenge but its good because I learn a little bit each time.
    Trial and error and success leads knowledge especially here in Colorado. The one thing I have more work to do in is soil preparation.
    My question to you is what soil preparation you do at the beginning of each season?
    I didn’t do any really aside adding so Epsom salt and rabbit manure to mine. I also didn’t rotate where and what I planted in my raised beds except I did create a new area for growing my melons and squashes. This area needs a lot more wok as it very rocky. So needs a lot soil work which I will do as time goes.
    My next question is I love sunflowers and am not able to grow them very well.
    which I think has to do with soil. As I drive through town here in Colorado springs I see some in folks back yard that are just beautiful plants and so tall and healthy way past any heights my reach. In California I never had problems growing them.
    Do you have any experience with these?
    Do you have any

    • Laura

      Hi Terry. You are always so encouraging to me. I’m grateful. Yes, especially here in Colorado, soil amendment is so important. Our clay soil is challenging. With raised beds it is easier because the gardener can decide what kind of soil to put in it. And with my new beds I decided to go with what is called Mel’s mix (see square foot gardening). I’m sold by it. But some may want to go the more sustainable route and use coir instead of peat (which is one of his ingredients).
      If you are wanting to create a new bed, what I do is dig some clay out (actually removing the top 6-12 inches) and work to removed the rocks (since you have those). Then then build up (mounding my beds). On some level I’m building a “raised bed”. I build it up with compost. Lots and lots of compost. It might be compost I have made or have delivered. Or you can do a mixture of compost and top soil. But honestly, I don’t trust top soil. Some companies who sell soil by delivery truck do have some good planters mix (some with top soil, some without). I will be doing just this in early September. I have an area of my yard that is rock (along a fence). I plan to remove all the rock, dig down and remove about 8 inches of clay and then build up with compost. It’s HARD work. I can’t do it by myself. I have to have a strong person to do most of the removing of rock and digging out the clay. I used to do that kind of work by myself, but in the last year I’ve given myself permission to get more help.
      If you are wanting to amend an existing garden bed, what I do is after each fall clean up I place a layer of compost to sit over the winter. And then I might place another fresh layer of compost in the spring. In the fall you can even place a layer of manure, allowing it to age over the winter months. I never add manure in the spring (unless I know for sure it is truly aged manure).
      I am not experienced growing sunflowers only because I don’t have much sun and I hate giving up garden space in the sunny areas I do have. So I can’t help you with sunflowers!

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  • Angie Rose-The Freckled Rose

    Wow Laura, so impressive! You guys did such an amazing job. You really do take small space gardening to a whole new level, very inspiring

  • Jen McGuinness

    Very nice and inspiring! I like how you show the progression through the photos!