Ask Eartha: Time to test your green thumb |

Ask Eartha: Time to test your green thumb

Dear Eartha,

It is starting to feel like spring is finally reaching Summit County! I am getting in the mood to garden. I used to have a plot in the Frisco community garden, but it would be great to dust off the old green thumb. Got any ideas?

Layla, Frisco

Let’s get ready to garden! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, garden season is finally here. The sun is shining and it’s getting warm. So naturally all you green thumbers are excited to get outside and dig in the dirt. Whether you have a plot in one of the five different community gardens in Summit County, a garden at home or something yummy potted on your porch, there are lots of great ways to get ready for the season.

Right now is a good time to start prepping everything for your garden. It sounds simple enough but to get the most out of your plot, garden or porch it’s good to be prepared. I always plan my garden backwards. “Say what?” Don’t worry, I will explain.

Start by figuring out what you want out of your garden and what you can reasonably expect from your location. This might involve some research. Start by looking at vegetable varieties that are cold weather hardy and quick finishing, or veggies that friends and neighbors have grown successfully. This means leaning toward lettuces, peas and green onions rather than tomatoes, okra or asparagus.

You will then need to locate the seeds. Try to find organic or non-GMO seeds. My favorite seed company is Johnny’s seeds at, or go with a local nursery like Alpine Gardens or Summit Landscaping. Use the information on the back of the packet to determine if you are going to direct seed (put those seeds directly in the dirt) or if you need starters (transplanted babies). Remember the seeds have an expiration date. Start with a fresh packet for the highest rate of success. If you need a starter, you can find these at the nurseries mentioned above or you can grow them yourself indoors.

Planting in healthy soil is one of the most important things you can do for your plants. Summit County has their very own community compost program where you can purchase locally made compost for your garden. For more info, call 970-468-9263 x 0.

Last but not least, create a garden calendar for yourself based on the information you have collected. This will help you stay on track with planting and help you get the most out of your space. Also include reminders to weed at least once a week and add nutrients as needed.

There are lots of great resources for those getting ready to dive back into the dirt. Check out to get the scoop on what’s happening in all of the gardens and how to get involved. The Summit Garden Network is a great way to connect with other local growers and talk about everything from high alpine tomato varieties to vermin control. You can also get the latest in volunteer opportunities, garden events and even classes.

For all those second year plot holders or those looking to dive a little deeper into their gardens, please join us tonight from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Buffalo Mountain room at the County Commons for the free Graduate Garden workshop. Cassidy and Jen from the High Country Conservation Center will be tackling hard-hitting subjects like succession planting, heirloom varieties, trellising and companion planting. There will also be a Q&A session at the end for everyone to share their past successes and failures.

It’s a great time of year to start getting into the gardening mood. Whether you are a seasoned plant assassin or blessed with two green thumbs, you can always learn more and make your summer more fruitful. Check out or for more information about how to get involved, learn more and get growing. See you in the gardens!

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

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